Private colleges: A choice of courses and a strong student experience
Colleges that do not participate in the Government's 'free fees' scheme are referred to as private or independent colleges. They are often under-valued and under-researched, but they can be the perfect choice for some school-leavers as well as people returning to education.
They offer a wide selection of courses, which can be accessed both through the CAO and through direct application to the college.
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Courses available through the CAO are accredited by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and sit at Level 6, 7 or 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). Additionally, many of the courses will also offer recognition from professional societies such as The Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) and the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP).
Courses are of high quality, but often offer the opportunity to enter at significantly reduced points. For example, psychology in UCD was 501 points in 2018, while psychology in DBS was 202 points. Both are recognised for graduate membership of the Psychological Society of Ireland.
These colleges can also offer a strong student experience. Griffith College Dublin has student accommodation at its Dublin campus and well as a variety of clubs and societies. Dublin Business School is located in the heart of the capital, giving students the opportunity to enjoy student life in the city and participate in more than 50 clubs, societies and sports teams.
For a full list of 2019 CAO courses, click here
The idea of attending a private college may be seen as prohibitively expensive for many but, in reality, the cost may only be slightly more than attending an institution which falls under the 'free fees' scheme.
Private college fees tend to lie in the region of €5,000. Fees, which have been stable in recent years, are tax deductible at a rate of 20pc.
If attending a private college allows a student remain in the family home rather than finding accommodation, it may be a more economical option. However, students are not eligible for SUSI grants.
This year, private colleges in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick have courses listed in the CAO. Offerings include degree programmes in a range of areas including business, acting, psychology, law, computing, fashion and design.