Private colleges can also be a good option
There are a number of private colleges offering courses via the CAO, while some also have programmes for which applicants may apply directly.
They tend to concentrate on areas related to business and humanities, while some have built niche areas in disciplines such as psychology, fashion, media and computers.
These courses are usually accredited by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) and are available from level 6 to level 8. In some cases, accreditation is by a UK institution.
Every year, more and more students are considering these courses for high-ranking choices on their CAO form, as well as a low points alternative to the university and institute of technology (IT) sectors.
Fees are payable and while in the past they may have been considered prohibitively expensive, with the increase in the student contribution charge to €2,750 next September, rising to €3,000 in 2015, they are becoming a more realistic option for many.
Fees tend to be in the region of €5,000 and have been fairly stable over the last number of years. There are, however, courses available for less. For example, Griffith College offers a wide variety of computer science courses for €3,500.
Increases in the student contribution charge does not affect fees at private colleges. Also, these fees paid are tax deductible at a rate of 20pc, while no tax back can be claimed on the student contribution charge.
For many families, it may prove more cost effective to attend a private college locally than to support a student in moving away to attend a university or IT. The majority of these colleges are located in Dublin, and in the city centre.
Many students enjoy the fact that private colleges are smaller than universities and ITs, but provide clubs, societies and the social activities one would expect from a third-level institution.
Colleges include: Dublin Business School, offering business courses, psychology, law, and liberal arts; Griffith College (which has campuses in Dublin, Limerick and Cork) offers a law degree, which is recognised for entry to Kings Inns as well as a number of creative courses, including interior design and media; Independent Colleges Dublin offers courses in law, arts, accounting, journalism and computers.
Many offer both full-time and part-time modes of study.
Other private colleges accepting applications through the CAO this year include: The American College Dublin; Grafton College of Management Science; College of Computer Training; IBAT College; ICD Business School; Portobello Institute; the Irish College of Humanities and Applied Science. A useful website is qualifax.ie, limiting your search to private colleges.
Also contact the institution, which will be more than happy to assist.