Further Education Courses (PLC’s)

Education and Training Boards (ETB)

Each area in Ireland has an Education and Training Board. These Boards oversee education from Early childhood through primary, post-primary and on to Further Education and Training (FET) for adults. The purpose is to ensure that each person has access to the skills training that are required in society and to ensure that those skills are kept up-to-date and relevant to what is needed by industry.

The ETB’s are responsible for FET courses (formerly called PLC’s) and apprenticeships among other types of education and training. ETB’s are also responsible for Youthreach (keeping teenagers in full time education) as well as literacy programmes for adults who may have never learned to read or write. The ETB’s have a governing body called Education and Training Board Ireland (ETBI). You can visit the ETB website here. On that website, you can also link to the ETB in your local area.

Further Education & Training Courses

These courses are run in your local area under the ETB in your county. They were formerly called Post Leaving Cert Courses but have changed name to reflect the changed purpose of the courses. While originally set up to provide a stepping-stone for teenagers who were not quite ready for Higher Education, their intake is now aimed at adults of all ages, including school-leavers. The qualifications achieved by successfully completing an FET course are stand-alone in their own right being linked to the National Framework of Qualifications – see the NFQ section in Useful Information. They do, however, still retain that original purpose of being an in-between transition for anyone looking to get into third level education but may not have the points required through the normal channel of the CAO.

Pro’s and Con’s

The benefit of these courses are as follows:

It is easier to gain entry to these courses then Higher Education via the CAO.

Many of these courses are run in your locality so the student may still be able to live at home.

The courses are not as challenging as university courses and therefore easier to do well in.

The universities are obliged to allow a small number of successful students of these courses direct access to linked university courses (more on this below).

They allow the student to get a good taster of the topic of study at a cheaper rate than the university equivalent. They will know afterwards if it is an area, they would like to continue in.

All courses are ranked on the National Framework of Qualifications (mostly level 5 or 6) which allows employers or other institutions of education to gauge the quality of the course.

Courses can be found on the ETB website (here) or through the Qualifax website (here). Using the Qualifax website allows you to see all courses available for the one topic across all NFQ levels.

They are not without downsides:

Not all ETB’s run each course so a student may have to travel some distance for a course they would like to do.

If a student is using these courses to gain entry to third level education, they have to ensure they enrol onto the right course, and it can be quite confusing (more below).

If a student is using this as an entry into third level, they may find the courses not as challenging as the university equivalent and could get bored.

Application to the course is through the school/community college where the course is being run. The student has to make individual applications for each course they wish to apply for. The closing dates may differ for each course and/or college of further education.

How to find an FET course.

You can search for courses using Qualifax the National Learners Database or Careersportal.ie. Examples below are from Qualifax.

Search by keyword but remember to refine your search by choosing filters like Post Leaving Cert Course, province and/or county to narrow down the results.

This will provide a list of all suitable courses in your area.

How to use to get entry to a university course

To use this course as a “backdoor” to a university course see the example below.

Using the Qualifax website, search for desired university courses. Here displayed is a selection of Nursing courses for the Dublin area. Choose the desired course by clicking on the course name as highlighted below.

That will bring you into the details of the course which will give all the information relevant for applying through the CAO. However, about halfway down the page, you will find QQI FET Entry Requirements. Click on this web page (here also), noting the CAO code of the course, in this case DC215.

Enter in the course code and you will get a list of all the FET courses that will be accepted for entry on DC215 General Nursing in DCU.

 Ensure the FET course you choose to apply for is accepted for the University and note the requirements above: “Must possess distinctions in 5 modules which must include…”

Application for the FET’s are direct to the course provider and their individual websites will give all details.