In times of job shortages, many young graduates opt to improve their employability skills by adding a postgraduate qualification.
The most recent HEA figures for the academic year 2010/11 showed that 34,720 students out of 193,187 in higher education (either full-time or part-time) were pursuing postgraduates studies at diploma, master's – either taught or research – or PhD level.
A reader asked if the normal Central Applications Office (CAO) closing date of February 1 applied for applicants to postgraduate courses.
CAO handles applications for undergraduate courses, so its application dates are not relevant for people applying to postgraduate courses. Many universities and other higher education institutes (HEIs) manage their own postgraduate applications, although some use the Postgraduate Application Centre (PAC) for some courses, particularly the postgraduate diploma in education (formerly the H Dip in Ed.)
Like CAO, the PAC is based in Galway, although it is a separate entity from CAO. Its website is www.pac.ie.
Application dates for postgraduate courses vary from course to course. Applicants' first port of call should be the university or other HEI offering the postgraduate course that interests them.
If they are not sure which HEIs offer what courses, the Qualifax website has a good search facility for all postgraduate courses.
Those interested in applying to postgraduate courses in the UK will find that the normal undergraduate application dates for UCAS of January 15 is not necessarily relevant either.
In many cases, applicants apply directly to the university offering the postgraduate programme. The application is sometimes handled by a section of UCAS called UKPASS which can be accessed through the UCAS website, www.ucas.co.uk.
Griffith College, South Circular Rd, Dublin 8, – one of the best known private fee-paying third-level colleges – has just announced an interesting 'Student Exchange Initiative', where Irish students can offset their tuition fees for one year, in return for their family providing accommodation and board to an international student from the college. This initiative applies to students at any of Griffith College's campuses in Ireland– Dublin, Cork or Limerick.
Griffith College, which hosts an open day today from 5.30pm-8pm in Dublin, offers Level 8 and Level 7/6 degree and certificate programmes in business, journalism, law, media, music and drama, design, and computing.
The National College of Ireland, IFSC, Mayor St, Dublin 1, also holds an open day today from 11am-3pm.
As the month of January enters its final phase, open days and other information events begin to shift from the third-level to the further education (FE) sector.
Application dates for FE colleges are more flexible than CAO, with applicants applying direct to the college in question, many of which have online application facilities. However, early application often increases a FE applicant's chance of success.
A number of FE colleges hold open days today: Dún Laoghaire College of Further Education, Cumberland St, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, from 10am-4pm; Whitehall College of Further Education, Whitehall, Dublin 9, from noon-6.30pm; Kinsale College of Further Education, Kinsale, Co Cork, 7pm–9pm; Ballsbridge College of Further Education, Shelbourne Rd, Dublin 4, 11am-3pm.