There are opportunities for further study after the Leaving Cert for every student. You can apply for a wide variety of courses with a range of entry requirements.
The qualifications system can be seen as a ladder, so regardless of which step a student starts at, it is possible to climb higher. The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) works on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest point. Having completed your Leaving Cert, you can apply for courses from Level 5 to Level 8. (Levels 9 and 10 are Master's and PhD courses. Entry at these levels requires that you already hold a Level 8 degree).
FET and PLC
Further Education and Training (FET) is a bridge between secondary school and third level education, where Level 5 or 6 qualifications can be gained. These are fully accredited and are recognised by institutes of technology, universities and colleges in the UK, the EU and beyond, as well as by employers.
FET courses typically consist of eight modules, including a work placement. They are 1 or 2 year programmes of classroom learning with applied practical learning. Students are assessed on assignments, research, placement and end of year exams. Courses are generally available at Further Education (FE) colleges.
Level 5 courses (often referred to as Post Leaving Certificate or PLC courses) are normally one-year in duration. They are available in a wide range of disciplines, both academic and practical, across a range of career interests. To get into a Level 5 course, students are generally required to have five Leaving Cert passes. Foundation level, ordinary level and higher level grades will be considered.
As FE colleges are not part of the CAO, no points are required. Students will usually be invited for an interview as part of the application process for Level 5 courses.
Level 6 courses are known as higher certificates. These are generally two-years in duration and can be accessed in two ways:
- By making a CAO application if you wish to study in an institute of technology or private college;
- By applying to certain courses in FE colleges.
If students attend a CAO institution, they will proceed directly into a Level 6 course. However, if you enter a further education college (for which points are not needed) you will study at Level 5 for year one and Level 6 for year two.
||This page is designed to help you find and research full-time PLC (Post Leaving Certificate) courses that lead to QQI awards. All these courses allow students to continue their education into Higher Education through the Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS).
To get directly into a Level 6 course, Leaving Cert students need to achieve the minimum entry requirements for the programme, i.e. any essential subjects and grades that may be required - and then compete with other applicants on CAO points. The minimum entry requirements for a Level 6 course are five ordinary level grades at D3 or above. CAO points in 2015 ranged between AQA (all qualified applicants) to about 300.
Which Universities and Colleges accept my FET Qualification for entry?
Dublin City University - Many DCU programmes have an entry route for QQI/FETAC Level 5 applicants. For those programmes with a QQI/FETAC entry route, approximately 10% of places are retained for QQI/FETAC applicants. Applicants presenting a minimum of five distinctions in a specified QQI/FETAC Level 5 award, with specified modules if required, may be eligible to compete for a place. Applicants are ranked based on their performance as outlined here. To review the QQI/FETAC requirements for DCU programmes, please click here. Applications should be made through the Central Applications Office (CAO) by the 1st February.
Maynooth University - Any QQI/FETAC award (at Level 5 or 6), with a minimum of five distinctions, fulfills the minimum entry requirements for admission to the University. Students with appropriate QQI/FETAC qualifications and modules, with distinctions in at least five modules, will be considered for admission on a competitive basis to the first year of the following honours degree programmes at Maynooth University. Details here.
NUI Galway - Holders of recognised QQI/FETAC qualifications, with appropriate modules and who achieve a minimum of five distinctions, may be admitted onto certain degree based programmes at NUI Galway on a competitive basis, based on the student’s scores. Quotas for QQI/FETAC applicants are available here.
Trinity College Dublin - Students with appropriate QQI/FETAC (Level 5) qualifications and modules, with a minimum of distinctions in five modules, can be admitted on a competitive basis to the certain Degree programmes at TCD - details here. Application is made through the CAO.
University College Cork - Entry to the first year of a large number of degree programmes at UCC is available on a competitive basis to students who present with one of the recognised QQI/FETAC qualifications listed here. However, students must meet the specific module requirements and have achieved the required distinctions (i.e., 80% or greater). Details here.
University College Dublin - Students with the relevant and appropriate QQI/FETAC (Level 5/6)* qualifications and components, with a minimum of distinctions in five modules, may be admitted on a competitive basis to certain UCD courses. Details here.
University of Limerick - UL now has a QQI/FETAC entry route to first year in 20 of their undergraduate degree programmes for students who have achieved the relevant QQI/FETAC Level 5 award. Candidates will be ranked on the basis of their performance in that award. All applications for admission under the QQI/FETAC entry pathway must be made through the Central Applications Office (CAO). Details here.
Use the PLC Course Search Wizard to find all PLC course links for all colleges.
Institutes of Technology
AIT - QQI/FETAC Admission Information available here.
CIT - QQI/FETAC Admission Information available here.
DIT - QQI/FETAC Admission Information available here.
DKIT - QQI/FETAC Admission Information available here.
IT Sligo - QQI/FETAC Admission Information available here.
LYIT - QQI/FETAC Admission Information available here.
Advantages of FET
- An alternative route into the Third Level college course of your choice
- If you fail to meet the Leaving Cert Points requirement, you can still pursue your course of choice by meeting the FE entry requirements
- Offers a more gradual progression from school to college
- Can be a good way to spend a gap year while waiting to take up a deferred place or when you are undecided about courses
- Offers a taster opportunity of subject areas not available in the Leaving Cert Curriculum
- The compulsory Work Experience module gives valuable practical experience
- Students that have completed Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) can access third level education via the FET route.