How does CAO system work with a FETAC qualification?
Q I am doing a course leading to a FETAC qualification in a PLC college this year, and I hope to apply on the basis of that to CAO next year. How does the selection system work?
A There are several different entry schemes for applicants with FETAC (Further Education and Training Awards Council) qualifications to progress into third-level colleges in the CAO sector.
Applicants should check carefully with the college in question about what system applies for the course they are interested in. If applicants hope to apply to a Level 8 honours degree programme, a lot depends on what course they are applying to.
Most higher education institutes (HEI) reserve small quotas of places 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.
At the outset, the higher education links scheme (HELS), as it was called, applied to courses in the institute of technology sector only.
Nursing Honours degree programmes were among the first Level 8 degree programmes in the university sector in CAO to open up a quota of places for applicants presenting with a relevant FETAC award. Increasing numbers of courses have followed suit. Not all courses admit applicants through FETAC routes. College prospectuses give full details.
The quota of places for FETAC applicants on the different nursing courses in HEIs is small and the minimum requirement is at least five distinctions from eight FETAC course modules, although this result may not guarantee applicants a place. Nursing applicants with eight distinctions may find that there are more applicants with such results than there are places available and that places are allocated by lottery or random.
Competition is less keen in some other courses.
Applicants to nursing and science courses in Trinity College may be pleased to know that from next year, applicants presenting appropriate FETAC (level 5) qualifications may apply to a number of programmes in the university.
Applicants presenting distinctions in five modules can be considered for admission to Science (TR071), General Nursing (TR091 and 093), Psychiatric Nursing (TR095); Intellectual Disability Nursing (TR097) and Midwifery (TR913).
It is expected that 10 places will be available on TR071, and a total of seven places available across the nursing programmes.
Most institutes of technology and some other HEIs are operating a second FETAC entry route scheme on a pilot basis. (It does not apply to nursing programmes.)
Under this scheme, applicants presenting any FETAC qualification will compete with Leaving Certificate candidates for most courses in the institution in question. Applicants for courses under this scheme are listed in order of their points merit, whether on Leaving Certificate points or FETAC award points.
A separate points scale is used for converting the scores of FETAC award holders, depending on three factors: the level of the FETAC award, the credit value of the module, and the points based on the result, whether pass (20 points) or merit (35 points) or distinction (50 points).
Eight modules are counted for points purposes. The credit value of a module in a FETAC Level 5 award is 1, so eight distinctions could score 400 points.
CAO's annual application figures show increasing numbers of applicants with FETAC qualifications.