Friday 23 March 2018

Getting a place in a private college

A wealth of courses available independently

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

WITH THE record demand for third level qualifications, every college place is extremely valuable and more highly sought after than ever before.

While publicly-funded institutions such as the universities and institutes of technology provide most opportunities, there is also a wealth of courses available in private or independent colleges.

These colleges have long filled an important niche in the Irish third-level market, and never more so than with the current record demand.

Last autumn, two in every three 17-19 year olds elected to pursue higher education, a huge leap on previous years .

This is because of the lack of job opportunities for schoolleavers and an increasing awareness that the more qualifications a person has, the better the chance of securing and retaining employment.

Private colleges focus on selected areas of study: in the main, law, business, finance, marketing, technology, media and design.

While fees are payable, and generally of the order of €4,500- €6,000 for an undergraduate degree programme, the cost is reduced somewhat through tax relief available at the standard rate.

Most of the private colleges are in Dublin, mainly in the city centre, so school-leavers in the city and its surrounds may see them as offering an alternative to travelling elsewhere to study, which, in the long term, could work out more expensive when accommodation and other costs are included.

Where courses are accredited by Ireland’s Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) or the Further Education Training and Awards Council (FETAC) they appear in the CAO handbook. But private colleges have many other options validated by universities in the UK, for which students apply directly to the college.

An important feature of the private college sector is flexibility. Colleges have progression routes where a student initially signs up for an ordinary degree/higher certificate at Level 7/6 with an option to go on to an honours Level 8, possibly in Ireland or the UK.

Dublin Business School (DBS), incorporating Portobello College, Ireland’s largest independent third-level college, and specialises in Business, Management, Law, Accounting, Finance, Marketing Event Management, Information Technology, Arts, Media, Journalism, Psychology and Social Science. Among its new offerings this year are a BA (Hons) Business Studies with work placement, and a Level 7 BA in Journalism & Media

Griffith College has campuses in both Dublin and Cork and specialises in business, law, journalism, computing science and design.

Its Dublin campus, on the South Circular Road, also offers state-of-the art halls of residence open to students attending any third-level colleges.

The Irish American University, also known as the American College brings a slightly different dimension to third-level education in Ireland, with its educational roots in the US. It has built up a strong reputation since opening in Dublin’s Merrion Square in 1993 and it has three Level 8 courses in the CAO: International Business, Accounting and Finance and Behavioural Science (Psychology)

Newer to the market is Independent Colleges, Dublin, which focuses on law, accountancy and journalism and, this year, is offerings its level 8 Journalism degree via the CAO. The college has also announced a new BA (Hons) in General Arts and a BA (Hons) in Business Studies, applications for which should be made directly to the College. Another recent face on the scene is the Institute of Business and Technology, Swords, Co Dublin, which offers courses through the CAO, at both level 8 and Level 7/6.

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