About Further Education/PLC

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Not everyone goes straight into the CAO system after his or her Leaving Certificate, for a number of understandable reasons. Many students choose to take a post-leaving certificate course at a College of Further Education. Further education courses are designed to prepare students for work by giving them specific skills and training and also act as a stepping-stone to other third level qualifications at ITs, universities or other colleges.

There are about 30, 000 students taking a PLC course in Ireland’s further education colleges, with about 1, 000 courses available ranging across approximately 60 disciplines and subjects. This presents a tremendous number of educational options for the school leaver, and ensures no student can complain about the lack of courses available that suit them. Further education courses provide education and training for specific occupations. Over the last twenty years or so the post leaving certificate sector has introduced excellent courses in areas such as business studies, arts and crafts, information technology, construction and electronics.

Lately there have been more courses offered in new subject areas including childcare, community care, teleservices, e-commerce, tourism, sports, and leisure. These are only a few examples from the huge variety of options available. The entry requirements for a further education course usually include the leaving certificate or equivalent qualification. There is generally an interview for the student to attend before their place on the course is confirmed, and enthusiasm as well as commitment is often just as important as exam results. Some courses require a basic level in school subjects related to the course applied for, e. g. maths or art.

Further education courses are also open to mature students who want to return to education after some time out. Further education courses are overseen by the FETAC awards scheme. FETAC (The Further Education and Training Awards Council) is a fairly new organisation which now looks after courses formerly offered by bodies such as Fáilte Ireland (CERT), FÁS and Teagasc, Vocational Education Committees, adult and community education and training centres, and the Institutes of Technology.

Further education courses taken by school leavers are usually at level five and six of the National Framework of Qualifications. Some further education colleges have links with an IT, University or other college in Ireland or the UK, and successful students may continue their studies at that college after completing their further education course.

FETAC full award holders are also now able to apply directly through the CAO process. Many students decide to take advantage of the opportunities offered by further education providers after their leaving certificate. It’s an attractive option as students receive a high standard of education and training and also have the chance to continue the educational progression up the third level ladder.


Whichcollege.ie is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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