PLCs offer route to college
Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are very popular and with good reason: they can equip students to enter the workplace and also give students, who are unsure of their subject area, the opportunity to try out a course before committing to degree programme. There are excellent opportunities to use PLC courses to gain entry to universities and institutes of technology.
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: 457 CAO course accept any PLC qualification for entry in 2016.
This year, a number of PLC colleges have opened their application process earlier than ever with some accepting applications since December. While most students are very focused on the CAO, they should also be considering making some PLC applications if they have not already done so. The application process is simple and students apply to each college they are interested in directly. Application forms are generally short and straightforward. It costs nothing to apply, but it is important to apply early as places on the most popular courses fill up quickly. Once the application has been received the college will invite applicants for interview.
Minimum academic qualifications for these courses are normally five Leaving Cert passes, with some courses requiring specific subjects such as maths. PLC courses will also accept students with Leaving Cert Applied qualifications. However, as entry is competitive, students should always try and present the best results they can.
There are many benefits to taking PLC or QQI Level 5 courses, as they are also known. Students interested in applying to a PLC course as a possible route to higher education, should, as a first step, check with the university or institute of technology as to which PLC course they accept for entry to the particular CAO course and whether there are certain subject requirements. Many colleges print this information in their prospectus. The qualifax.ie website outlines which PLC colleges offer these courses. It is better to search by course code in the PLC section of qualifax.ie rather than by name of the course.
A PLC course normally involves completion of eight modules over one year. Students will then fill out the CAO for the following year and have their application considered based on their PLC results rather than the Leaving Cert. This can be helpful for students who excel in a certain area but may not achieve the CAO points from other subjects to study that area in higher education.
Some PLC courses offer advanced entry into third level. For example, the Level 5 course in renewable energy and sustainable construction at Colaiste Dhulaigh, Raheny on Dublin's northside, allows graduates to progress to second year of DIT Building Energy Services Level 7 Degree (DT005).