How education levels work – and what you will need to pursue your profession
Students and parents may have heard phrases such as level 8, level 7, in relation to education post-Leaving Certificate and may not know what they mean.
In 2003, the National Framework of Qualifications was introduced. This is a system where qualifications are placed at an appropriate level on a scale from one to 10, higher numbers meaning a higher level of qualification. This system allows for quality assurance, international comparison and clarification for learners on their qualification.
In this system, the Junior Certificate is placed at Level 3 while the Leaving Cert is placed at Level 5, with Leaving Cert Applied at Level 4. From Leaving Cert, students may apply for studies from Level 5 to Level 8. This is because Level 9 and 10 are Master's and PHD courses, which require a student to have already completed a Level 8 degree.
A Level 8 degree is known as an honours degree. This is what many of us would consider the traditional university degree.
They are generally four years in duration with some notable exceptions – for example, medicine is five or six years and arts degrees are often three years.
Students mainly apply for these through the CAO with some private colleges offering courses outside of the CAO system. Leaving Cert students are required to meet the minimum entry requirements and essential subjects for these courses and then compete with other students on CAO points to win a place.
The minimum requirements for all Level 8 courses are two Higher Level C3 grades and four Ordinary Level D3 grades (with the exception of Trinity College Dublin, which requires three Higher Level C3 and three Ordinary D3). CAO points for these courses in 2013 ranged from 200 points to 585 depending on supply and demand.
For some courses, points are also awarded for project/portfolio/ interview/aptitude test.
Level 8 degrees are offered at university, institutes of technology, private colleges and training colleges.
Level 7 degrees are known as ordinary degrees. In the pre-2003 system, they were referred to as diplomas.
They are generally three years in duration and students mainly apply through the CAO, while some private colleges offer courses outside the CAO.
Once again, Leaving Cert students are required to meet the minimum entry requirements, essential subjects and then compete for places on CAO points.
Many institutions require a student to achieve five Ordinary D3 grades for entry to Level 7, although there are some exceptions.
Essential subject requirements are also lower at Level 7 courses. For example, a student wishing to study engineering at Level 8 in DIT will require a Higher Level C3 in maths, while engineering courses at Level 7 in DIT require an Ordinary C3 in maths.
Level 7 degrees are offered at university, institutes of technology and private colleges. This year, CAO points ranged from AQA to 410.
In coming weeks, we will look at some level 6 and 5 terminology and its meaning, and clarify how students can use this system to achieve their educational goals.
Important dates this week: September 25 Open day: Dorset College September 27 Open evening: Portobello Institute Discover Research Dublin 2013 TCD and RIA Dawson st. September 28 Open day: Pulse College September 30 UCAS 2013 – Clearing Vacancy Search is closed October 1 Open day: Clonakilty Agricultural College HPAT Ulster Test – Registrations Open October 2 Open day: CAFRE Loughry Open Day: College of Amenity Horticulture – Botanic Garden UKCAT – Booking / Re-scheduling Closes