Privately–owned colleges make a significant contribu-tion to the Irish third-level education landscape.
They concentrate on business and related areas, while some have built up a niche in areas such as arts/humanities – including media, film and psychology – law, interior and fashion design and computing.
Most offer a range of degree and certificate programmes leading to awards from HETAC (the Higher Education and Training Awards Council), the Irish body responsible for awarding qualifications in higher education outside the university sector. Application for these courses is made through CAO.
Many also offer courses accredited by overseas-awarding bodies or universities, such as in the UK, for which students apply directly to the colleges.
The private college charge fees, running to about €5,000- €5,500 a year for a full-time undergraduate degree course, with tax relief at 20pc.
With the increase in the Student Contribution Charge, to €2,500, next September for students attending publicly-funded colleges, on which no tax relief is available, the cost differential is narrowing. Parents may consider that, if the alternative is supporting a student away from home, a private college is a more cost-effective option.
The colleges are, in the main, located in Dublin and with campuses in the city centre, or very close by, they offer maximum convenience. Many students prefer the more intimate atmosphere afforded by these colleges.
About 10 of the 45 colleges participating in CAO are privately owned: American College, Merrion Square, Dublin; the Dublin Business School, Aungier St, Dublin; Griffith College (in Dublin, Cork or Limerick); Independent Colleges, Dawson St, Dublin; the College of Computer Training, Westmoreland St, Dublin; the Grafton College of Management Sciences, Dublin; IBAT College, Dublin; the Irish College of Humanities and Applied Sciences, Limerick; the ICD Business School, South Great Georges St, Dublin; and Portobello Institute, Dublin.
The two longest established and largest are the Dublin Business School and Griffith College.
Dublin Business School, which incorporates both the former L.S.B. College and Portobello College, offers a range of degree and certificate (mainly higher) programmes in business, accounting marketing, arts, law, psychology, and social science.
Griffith College has locations in Dublin, Limerick and Cork. It delivers programmes across a spectrum that includes business, accounting and finance, law, computing science, journalism and media communications, interior architecture, interior design, and fashion design. Its campus on South Circular Road, Dublin also includes purpose-built student accommodation.
Independent Colleges has four honours degree programmes in the CAO: journalism, business studies, accounting and finance, and marketing, while IBAT College and ICD Business School both focus on business courses.
The American College Dublin offers honours degree courses in accounting and finance, international business, hospitality manage-ment and in liberal arts.