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PLC courses offer important route to further education

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'An advantage for arts graduates is that they can get an additional qualification in the time it takes a STEM student to complete an undergraduate degree.' Photo: PA

'An advantage for arts graduates is that they can get an additional qualification in the time it takes a STEM student to complete an undergraduate degree.' Photo: PA

'An advantage for arts graduates is that they can get an additional qualification in the time it takes a STEM student to complete an undergraduate degree.' Photo: PA

While students are focused on filling out their CAO, this is also the best time to make applications for post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses.

The application process is simple and students apply directly to any college where there is a course of interest to them. Application forms are generally short, straightforward and require mostly factual information. It costs nothing to apply but it is important to apply early as places on the most popular courses fill up quickly.

Once an application has been received, the college will contact the applicant and invite them for interview.

Minimum academic qualifications for these courses are normally five passes at Leaving Certificate, with some courses requiring specific subjects such as maths. PLC colleges, also known as further education colleges, will also accept students with the Leaving Cert Applied.

There are many benefits to taking a PLC course. They equip students to enter the workplace after completion, if they choose to do so, or offer those who are unsure of their subject area the opportunity to try out a course, before committing to taking a four-year degree.

There are excellent and growing opportunities to use a PLC to gain entry to universities and institutes of technology (IT). Opportunities for progression are available in nearly all areas of study. Some of the most popular include pre-engineering, pre-nursing, pre-science and computers, but there are many more.

This year there will be 457 courses on the CAO that will accept any PLC qualification for entry in 2015. In other cases, students must complete a specific PLC course. Students interested in using a PLC course as a possible route to higher education should check with the university or IT as to which course they accept as a basis for entry, and if there are any particular subject requirements. Many universities and ITs print this information in their prospectus.

Applicants should use ­qualifax.ie to find out which PLC colleges offer these courses. In the interests of accuracy, it is helpful to search by course code in the PLC section of Qualifax rather than by name of the course.

A PLC course normally involves eight modules over one year. If applying to the CAO the following year, students can ask to be considered on their PLC results rather than their Leaving Cert. This can be helpful for students who excel in a certain area but may not achieve the necessary CAO points.

Irish Independent