Further-education courses pave the way to university for many students
In case any CAO applicant has failed to register this fact, today, Monday (August 30), is the closing date for acceptance of round one offers. The vast majority of applicants who intend to accept their offer had done so before the weekend, with nearly 40,000 acceptances in total so far.
If an applicant fails to accept an offer, that offer will lapse, and the place will be offered to the next applicant on the waiting list.
Tomorrow, Tuesday (August 31) through Wednesday (September 1), college admissions officers all over the country will be busy checking the acceptances on every course, seeing where they might need to make additional offers to fill courses.
On Thursday morning (September 2), CAO will publish the cut-off points of the second round of offers. CAO will also mail out those offers on Wednesday evening, to arrive in applicants' homes on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a total of around 31,000 places will be taken up this year in the Further Education (FE/PLC) sector. Application in this sector is made directly to each college, and the process started last spring.
The most popular courses will already be full, but FE colleges are still interviewing for courses where places are still available. It is worthwhile phoning around.
City Of Dublin VEC, the largest provider of FE/PLC courses in the country, offers a free-phone course-information service on 1800 20 40 80
Further Education or Post Leaving Certificate courses can lead directly to employment, but many students use their FE courses to get places in universities and institutes of technology.
Some colleges estimate that more than 50pc of their students' progress to HEIs -- the remainder would enter the workforce in their specialised area, eg beauty therapy, hairdressing, accounting technician.
There are several progression routes from FETAC courses into the Irish third level sector.
The first route that was established was one whereby places are held for FETAC-award holders on courses in Institutes of Technology, which are linked in content to their FETAC course.
A second route developed as higher-education institutes (HEI) in the university sector started to reserve small quotas of places on some programmes for FETAC applicants, who are presenting with FETAC Level 5 awards in courses with modules relating in content to the course they are applying to.
When quotas apply, FETAC applicants compete with other FETAC applicants for the places in question.
There is another FETAC entry route scheme being operated on a pilot basis by most institutes of technology and some other HEIs.
Under this scheme, applicants presenting any FETAC qualification compete with Leaving Certificate candidates for most courses in the institution in question.
They are not confined to specific FETAC quotas, nor does their FETAC course have to be linked in content to the HEI course they are applying to. They are ranked in order of a points scheme, alongside Leaving Certificate applicants.
A word of advice: check the routes from the particular FETAC course you are choosing to the third-level course you may be aiming for.
Most colleges have dedicated information sections on their websites for FETAC applicants. FETAC's website, www.fetac.ie, is a useful source of information.
Q I hope to progress to a nursing degree in an Irish university or Institute of Technology from a PLC course. Which progression route applies?
A Links to nursing degrees are made through the Higher Education Links scheme. FETAC's Progression leaflet states that candidates will be eligible if they take any one of three specified FETAC Level 5 certificates, relevant to nursing degree programmes.
The minimum requirements are distinctions in at least five specified components of the course. Because the number of places on any given course is small, competition is very keen.
Applicants with even better results cannot be guaranteed a place. Random selection can apply. Applicants should always check with the colleges they plan to apply to.