Fetac courses offer students a second route to dream course
‘‘ If I had a better understanding of PLCs when I was 18, I wouldn’t have spent three years just drifting and staying afloat just to be in college in a course I didn’t want to do at all
She heard of the pre-university science course from a friend and took up a place at Killester College for Further Education.
Universities reserve a small number of places on many courses for students coming through the PLC Fetac course route. Trinity offers 10 places on its science course to students coming from the various Fetac science courses across the country, and UCD offers 30 places.
Other pre-university Fetac courses in- clude law, health science, nursing, arts, engineering and computer science. Many of the one-year PLC courses only cost between ¤450 and ¤600.
The further education courses can offer students with a particular aptitude for certain area a route to study it, if they fall short of the overall CAO points for the course.
Last year 10,880 students with PLC qualifications were offered places in third-level
Dr Graham Love, chief executive of the Higher Education Authority, says students who fail to get enough CAO points for their desired course should not panic. “Other options are available to you outside of the CAO system to access higher education,” such as Fetac courses, he said.
New apprenticeships in financial services, insurance, and IT are also being rolled out by Solas, a State further-education institution, to provide an alternative to third-level courses.
“I had always wanted to study science, I loved all the science subjects in the Leaving Cert, but I just was convinced the course was out of reach. I didn’t know there was another way,” Sweeney says.
“My Leaving Cert has absolutely no impact on the fact that this September I’m going to Trinity College and I’m doing science. The CAO is not the end of the world.”
Entry into the limited number of university places from Fetac courses is competitive. Sweeney got nine distinctions in her nine exams but, she says, even then she was worried she might not get a place in Trinity.
In the grand scheme of things, a year when you’re 18 or 19 is really nothing,” says Sweeney. “So many of my friends have dropped out, or changed courses, or switched colleges, or transferred.”
“I would advise anyone that’s unsure of taking a place in a course that there are other options, don’t just fall into a degree because you feel like you have to.”
Sinéad Sweeney at Trinity College Dublin: “Don’t just fall into a degree because you feel like you have to”