In this column last week we focused on the National Framework of Qualifications and in particular Level 7 and 8 on the framework. Students may also apply for courses at Level 6 and Level 5.
Level 6 are also known as Higher Certificates. They are generally two years in duration. This level can be accessed both by making a CAO application if you wish to study in an institute of technology or private colleges, and by applying to certain courses in further education colleges, commonly referred to as PLCs, or Post-Leaving Certificate courses.
If students attend a CAO institution, they will proceed directly into a Level 6 course. Leaving Cert students need to achieve the minimum entry requirements, any essential subjects which may be required, and then compete with other applicants on CAO points. The minimum entry requirements for Level 6 are five Ordinary grades at D3 or above. CAO points in 2013 begin at AQA to approximately 300 points.
However, if you enter a further education college you will study at Level 5 for year one and Level 6 for year two.
Level 5 courses are generally available at further education colleges. They are also commonly referred to as FETAC courses. These are normally of one year's duration and are available in a wide range of disciplines both academic and practical. Students are mostly required to have five passes in the Leaving Cert and foundation, ordinary, and higher level will be considered. As students are normally invited for interview and these colleges are not part of the CAO system, no points are required.
So what does all this mean for students? Well firstly it means that students may make application for a wide variety of courses with a wide range of entry requirements.
This means there are opportunities for every student after Leaving Cert if they wish to take them up, irrespective of ability. Secondly because this system can be considered a type of ladder it means that, irrespective of which step the students enter on, it is possible to climb the ladder right to the top.
Students may apply for up to 10 Level 8 courses on their CAO form. They may also apply for a further 10 courses at Level 7 and 6. In addition to their CAO application, students may apply for Level 5 by making applications directly to further education colleges. If students use all of these options fully there is no reason why they should not have a course to move on to after Leaving Cert.
It is often the students who do not fully investigate their Level 5, 6 and 7 options, who receive no offer in August. Remember you can only be offered place in courses you have applied for so use your options fully just in case things do not go as you expect in August.
In this column next week we will clarify how students can use the ladder to progress to higher levels, even if they begin at Level 5 or 6.
Important dates this week: Today Open day College of Amenity Horticulture – Botanic Gardens UKCAT booking and rescheduling closes Tomorrow Open day Gurteen Agricultural College Careers Fair Ormonde Hotel Kilkenny IGC Friday Open Day Ballyhaise Agricultural College Kildalton Agricultural College NUI Galway (2 days) Last day of testing for UKCAT Saturday Test Date for SAT entry to university test Tuesday (October 8) Open Day Mountbellew Agricultural College