Computer Networking Courses

networking coursesThe number and range of opportunities for skilled graduates which exist in the Computing/IT sector in Ireland has been well documented. Employers in this sector are continually highlighting the difficulties they face in filling certain vacancies. Currently, in Ireland, opportunities are outgrowing supply. Most recruitment websites are testament to this.

If you wish to specialise in a specific area of Computing and IT, Networking is one viable option. In the world of computers, networking is the practice of linking two or more computing devices together for the purpose of sharing data. Networks are built with a mix of computer hardware and programming software.

Networks can be categorised in several different ways. One approach defines the type of network according to the geographic area it spans. Local area networks (LANs), for example, typically reach across a single home, whereas wide area networks (WANs), reach across cities, states, or even across the world. The Internet is the world’s largest public WAN.

Networks are a major component of ICT (Information & Communication Technology) communication. If Networking interests you, there are many courses of offer – both via private course providers and the CAO. Most courses provide learners with both the practical and theoretical knowledge of basic networks. Participants will learn about the different components used to create a network including hardware, software and topologies.

In terms of career prospects in this specialised area; many view computer networking as one of the best and ‘hottest’ career fields available today. Some claim that a serious shortage of qualified people to fill these networking jobs exists, and these claims are luring some people into the fray hoping for an easy position with a fast-growing company.
networking courses
Courses on offer:

Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) with CMIT – this is a Distance Learning course, so it is therefore ideal for somebody already working in the sector and who wishes to up-skill.

Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) validates the ability to install, operate and troubleshoot a small enterprise branch network, including basic network security. The curriculum covers networking fundamentals, WAN technologies, basic security and wireless concepts, routing and switching fundamentals, and configuring simple networks. CCENT is the first step toward achieving CCNA, which covers medium size enterprise branch networks with more complex connections. This comprehensive e-learning course prepares students for the Cisco CCENT Certification. The course is completed online, at your own time, at a location that suits you. You progress through the course materials and complete the online lessons and tests.

Once you successfully pass the programme, you will receive a Diploma in Networking from CMIT. You may optionally take an exam to receive Cisco certification. This is assessed through a computer-based multiple choice exam (642-822).

Kilroys College run a Network+ – IT Skills Preparation course for the CompTIA A+ certification. This is also a Distance Learning course. If you are interested in becoming a Network administrator or PC Support Specialist, then this CompTIA sponsored Network+ course could be for you. It will help you prepare for the Network+ exam which will give any prospective employer proof that you possess the required technical knowledge and skills to support a network. It also gives you the perfect foundation to build on towards other IT qualifications. Leading technology companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Intel have identified Network+ as the perfect entry point into a networking career.

CMIT also run Windows Server Networking (MCTS) course. This is the official Microsoft Certification for Windows Server Networking 2008. This series will prepare you for the MCTS: Windows Networking exam. This exam is the only requirement to apply for the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: Networking certification, and will also count toward the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP): Enterprise Administrator or Server Administrator. .

This comprehensive e-learning course prepares students for the Windows Server Networking 2008. This course will prepare you to monitor a Windows Server 2008 system, as well as configure IP addressing, name resolution, network access, and file and print services.

To receive full Microsoft Certification you must complete the Microsoft exam. This course is assessed through a computer-based multiple choice exam (MCTS 70-642) which may be sat when students have completed the course.

Cork Institute of Technology run a Computer – Networking & Security Postgraduate course (Level 9 NFQ). This course is designed to provide the graduate student with the advanced theoretical knowledge and skills in the interrelated areas of Computer Networking and Computer Security.

Mallow College of Further Education offer a Computer Networking & Maintenance course (Level 5). This full time course is ideal for students interested in computers and how they work. It is designed to give students the opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to implement and support PC systems and networks. This course specifically prepares participants for careers in computer and network support.

Career prospects:

Several types of positions exist in Networking. The basic job titles one sees for computer networking and networking-related positions include:

• Network Administrator
• Network (Systems) Engineer
• Network (Service) Technician
• Network Programmer/Analyst
• Network/Information Systems Manager

Network administrators and managers in particular have grown fond of networking-based certifications like Microsoft MCSE and Cisco CCNA. Therefore, it is important to keep this in mind when pursuing a course in order to attain a particular position in a company or as a self-employed person in this growing industry.

View IT Training and Networking Courses on our Computer Courses Page

Montessori Childcare Courses

montessori Childcare CoursesThe Montessori childcare method applies an educational approach to children based on the research and experiences of Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori (1870–1952). It arose essentially from Dr. Montessori’s discovery of what she referred to as “the child’s true normal nature”. The teacher’s role of observation sometimes includes experimental interactions with children, commonly referred to as “lessons,” to resolve misbehavior or to show how to use the various self-teaching materials that are provided in the environment for the children’s free use. The method is primarily applied with young children (2–6), due to the young child’s unique instincts and sensitivity to conditions in the environment.

The founder of this method of teaching was a lady called Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to graduate in medicine from the University of Rome. Maria worked with disabled and mentally challenged children in the early 1900s. In 1907, she opened the Casa dei Bambini, where she taught children of normal intelligence using her methods from her research in philosophy, child development and education. She spent most of her remaining life writing, lecturing and teaching about her methods.

montessori courses in Ireland

The benefits of a Montessori education are numerous. The main goal of Montessori is to provide a stimulating, child oriented environment that children can explore, touch, and learn without fear. Each child learns at his or her own pace. Teachers are understanding and encouraging, so that the child can enjoy learning, and feel happy about her path and purpose in life. Here are some of the benefits:-

• Montessori schools teach independence from an early age. The children take an active part in running their school, like preparing and serving at the drinks break, and putting learning equipment away after they have used it. Practical tasks like sweeping, polishing, making sandwiches and tying shoe laces, are all available for children to learn on a daily basis.

• Children are not expected to conform to set standards of achievement as in conventional schools. The Montessori method takes account of the needs, talents, gifts, and special individuality of each child. The children learn at their own pace, so they are not being constrained nor criticised for what they do. There is a total freedom to learn which makes the learning fun.

• All children, whatever their abilities or interests, reach their full potential. All children fit in, including children with learning disabilities. Many children learn best in different ways, and the equipment is designed for this. For example, one piece of equipment is the sand alphabet – the letters of the alphabet in sand on card. The child traces over the sand letter with his/her finger, and then writes the letter on paper. For all subjects there are items of interest to the child. For example, for geography, not only are there books, but globes, map puzzles, pictures, and animal figures (sensory items). There are also regular visits from people, pets, animals, and different activities depending on the topic being taught.

• In a Montessori environment children are encouraged to respect and help each other. If they choose, they will work with other children, and help each other, or ‘teach’ each other, and they enjoy doing so.

• The environment of a Montessori school is peaceful and facilitates learning. Because children are happy and learning at their own pace, discipline is usually not an issue.

To find Montessori and Childcare courses in Ireland, view our Montessori Course Listings on

Pre Nursing Courses

pre nursing courses in IrelandPre-nursing programmes are designed to give a solid foundation in the theory and practice of Health Care and Nursing Care for those who intend entering the nursing, paramedical or community care service.

Pre-nursing courses have a number of different aims. Firstly, they provide foundation skills and entry requirements to access degree courses in Nursing. They develop and foster a range of personal and interpersonal qualities necessary for work in a range of care environments. They teach and emphasise the importance of creating and maintaining appropriate relationships with the client, their family, and other professionals involved in their care. On completion, graduates will have acquired specialist knowledge, skills and competence in the role of the care assistant.

Principal Areas of Study:

Nursing Studies Course Modules
Introduction to Nursing
Anatomy and Physiology
Human Growth and Development
Care Skills
Work Experience
Health and Safety at Work
Social Studies

Irish based pre-nursing programmes are designed to prepare students for academic programmes in the nursing sector and/or employment in the health sector as a care assistant.

Holders of a QQI Level 5 pre-nursing award may be in a position to apply to UL, NUI, UCC, NUI Galway, and the Institutes of Technology for entry to the first year of Nursing Studies Degree Programmes (through the Higher Education Links Scheme). A distinction in 5 modules in the  Level 5 course, is required, which must include a Distinction in: D20001 (Anatomy and Physiology), D20012 (Introduction to Nursing), and D20032 (Human Growth and Development) or C20006 (Biology).  A reserved number of places are allocated to applicants presenting with QQI qualifications. Places are allocated on a competitive basis. The best eight modules, at a single sitting, are considered for scoring purposes. Of course, there is also the option of applying for other related Health Studies degrees in Universities and Institutes of Technology in Ireland and various colleges in Britain, like Social Care and Health Promotion.

Most course providers require a Leaving Certificate standard or equivalent and an English language proficiency test where deemed appropriate.  The College Registrar for the Nursing Studies course will discuss and advise you on the course details and career options. Mature students with relevant prior experience may be exempt from the above requirements.

Most Nursing Studies programs are delivered over one academic year and work experience is usually a mandatory part – where students are given a chance to blend classroom theory with hands-on practical experience.

A number of PLC course providers and private colleges offer pre-nursing courses, the courses are usually named Nursing Studies courses and are at level 5 on the NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications), some of these are listed below:

Dunboyne College, Meath

Moate Business College

St Louis Community School, Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo

Dorset College Dublin

Portobello Institute, Dublin

In an age where some people are reluctant to commit to a four year program, (especially if they are unsure of their suitability or the future employment prospects) a pre-nursing course is an ideal way to sample a course and a work environment to ascertain your compatibility. At the end of the academic year, even if you do not wish to pursue a nursing career, you have a certificate, that entails many valuable transferable skills, that you can take into other career areas related to health care and community work.

View the following link for some Pre-Nursing course listings on –

PLC Courses as a Route to Third Level

plc coursesThere was a time, not too long ago, when your Leaving Certificate grades and the points that they translated into determined whether you would become a third level student, go directly into employment or head for distant shores. Thanks to the Further Education system, more options have become available for those leaving secondary education or those wishing to return to education.

Today many view the PLC (Post Leaving Cert) route as their alternative stepping stone into Higher Education Institutes. At the end of your studies it doesn’t really matter the method of entry, but the qualification and experience gained in the process.

Who is the PLC route for? Many argue it is for those who are more practical than academic. Not necessarily so anymore! As year after year, many entrants into the PLC sector of education also have the offer of CAO courses. Some PLC students don’t want to commit to a 3 or 4 year course in a third level institution until they have actually experienced or studied a similar Level 5 or 6 certificate course. PLC courses can assist students in making a more informed decision prior to further commitment.

There are PLC courses that prepare you for specific further study as well. Courses such as Nursing Studies, Art-portfolio preparation and Pre-Engineering courses are some of the examples. Some students attend a PLC college in order to have a second opportunity to score higher points than they got in their leaving cert.

plc courses in Ireland

Whatever the reason for doing a PLC course, you will find over 1400 further education centres registered with QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland – Formerly FETAC). The distinctive feature of further education is its diversity and breadth of provision, and its linkages with other services such as employment, training, area partnership, welfare and community and voluntary sector interests. Further education and training programmes typically have a vocational or work focus and reflect national, regional or sectoral economic needs. An element of work experience and job preparation is inbuilt into all programmes, which are essential components for students who wish to enter the employment market. PLC courses are not just aimed at the student leaving school but also at adults retuning to education.

The buzz word these days is ‘progression’. Many PLC/FE courses lead to QQI Level 5 and 6 awards, and in some cases you can progress with this award via The Higher Education Links Scheme or The Pilot Scheme to a third level course in a variety of higher education institutions including universities, institutes of technology and even private colleges. The Higher Education Links Scheme facilitates progression to specific third level programmes whilst the Pilot Scheme allows you to compete for CAO places alongside leaving certificate students. Most Higher Level Institutes now reserve a quota of places for QQI graduates. If you look at the National Framework of Qualifications you can place yourself according to your level of education on the framework (. From your starting point you can go from one level to the next should you wish to do so. One level becomes a ladder to the next.

The National Framework of Qualifications is now the single structure mechanism for recognising all education and training in Ireland. All framework awards have an NFQ Level (1-10) which tells you about the standard of learning and an NFQ Award-Type which tells you about the purpose, volume and progression opportunities associated with a particular award. A key element of the NFQ is to improve access (entry) to education and training, transfer within and between education and training and progression within and between education and training. (see for further information)

National Framework of Qualifications

NFQ Diagram – Fan diagram showing the 10 certification levels and overlaps within the National Framework of Qualifications – see for more details.

In order to progress with your QQI award – it is important to remember that applicants must have obtained a full QQI major award. Many students who complete a level 6 programme have been successful in gaining advanced entry to year 2 of a relevant programme in The Institutes of Technology. Some FE colleges even have individual progression agreements with their local IT, affording students access to a specific number of reserved places. Links with the UK have developed over the years between individual colleges and specific universities in the UK.

Further education courses are open to those with a Leaving Certificate or an equivalent qualification. It is recommended that students check individual course entry requirements. FE courses are also open to mature students subject to Leaving Certificate standard of education or suitable life/work experience. It is important to keep in mind that some of the most popular courses fill up by April each year. Some courses also require that you attend for an interview.

It is worth keeping in mind the fact that there has been a decrease in the numbers of mature students applying to third level colleges and an increase in those accessing further education at QQI Levels 5 and 6. Guidance Counsellors have also noted the increase in students making both PLC/FE and CAO applications each year.

The PLC/FE route may not be part of the third level system but it certainly has as much credibility as an education option and it continues to go from strength to strength.

To see more details on PLC courses and further education courses, check out the following link –

Accounting Courses

accounting and payroll trainingWhether you want to balance your own books or launch an international fraud investigation, accountancy is among the most practical skills for everyday life and can also be an important and rewarding career.

Generally, accounting is the process in which the financial information of any organisation is communicated. Management accounting reports financial information to people involved with the day to day running of businesses in order to make management or operating decisions. Financial accounting provides information to people outside the business including information to shareholders, banks, and government agencies. Financial accounting is heavily regulated by both local and international accounting standards and laws.

All accountancy courses, regardless of level, will develop the quantitative, computational, and analytical skills required within this discipline. Introductory courses in accounting concentrate on the basic managerial and financial accounting concepts. For example, those offered at Community Schools such as the Old Bawn Community School focus predominantly on bookkeeping for either individuals or small businesses and include tracking debits and credits, balancing accounts, and tax office returns such as VAT, PAYE, and PRSI returns. Many private colleges also offer introductory courses.

Kilroy’s College offers a distance education diploma course for beginners in accounting and bookkeeping that focuses on practicalities such as understanding ledger accounts and business planning. Kilroy’s College also offer several courses that focus on accountancy for specific employment groups such as the self-employed and farmers.
Accounting courses in Dublin and around Ireland

The Portobello Institute in Dublin offers the ACCA Accounting Technician Certificate course that spans full-time over two years, includes one year of work experience, and culminates in the CAT qualification. Graduates with this certification are typically employed as accounts or wages clerks, accounting assistants, sales ledger clerks, tax assistants, or accounts manager. CAT can be used as an introduction to the accountancy profession or as an accelerated route to the ACCA Professional Qualification.

Although it isn’t always necessary, many accountants have degrees. A three or four year programme in accounting will build upon the introductory concepts. Topics of study may include information systems; including information flow in electronic information systems, and electronic financial transactions. Differences between management and financial accounting concepts are investigated, and there is emphasis on, among other topics, financial transaction analysis, preparation of more complex financial statements, legal requirements, professional ethics, as well as tax concepts and tax planning strategies.

Some degree programs specialise in specific areas such as Griffith College in both Cork and Dublin, which offers a three year Accounting and Finance degree and in the later years concentrates on the impact of EU Law on accountancy. Each of the Universities offers degrees in accounting and offer opportunity for specialisation at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

If you are more interested in the payroll aspect of accounting or if working in this field then Payroll training courses may be a more suitable option. The Irish Payroll Association (IPASS) is Ireland ‘s premier provider of Payroll Training, PAYE Training, PRSI Training, VAT Training, qualifications and is the only representative body for payroll professionals in Ireland. Courses are offered countrywide and take place at several intervals throughout the year.

While accounting graduates commonly work in financial services, marketing and administrative fields, career opportunities can be found in every corner of the globe, at every level of business, and in every specialty. Anywhere there is a business, institution, government body, or volunteer organisation there is a need for accountants. Students who successfully complete accounting courses can expect a wide range of opportunities in this field.

To see a wider list of accounting and payroll training courses, you can use the following link;

Getting into Java

java programming coursesMany of us associate the word ‘Java’ with coffee and coffee houses. However, if one was to scan through any number of job sites – Java is a frequently occurring word in the list of job vacancies.

So what is Java? Created in the early 90s for Sun Microsystems, it is the underlying technology that powers state-of-the-art programmes including utilities, games and business applications. You might not know this, but Java actually runs on more then 850 million personal computers worldwide, and on over a billion devices including mobile and TV devices. Java in essence is a programming language and computing platform. It provides more interactivity and security.

Why do we need Java? You might have learnt this the hard way as lots of applications and websites won’t work unless you have Java installed. So from the lap-top you are in front of right now, to your game console, to your Iphone, to the internet – yes like coffee it’s everywhere and we all need it at some stage!

Why else would you want to learn more about Java? Perhaps you question how computer programs work? Maybe you would like to write your own computer programs or design/develop websites. Would becoming proficient in Java help you gain a new skill or help you advance in your current career area? By learning the Java Programming Language – you are literally learning a new language and different sets of instructions that will tell a computer what to do. Just like you won’t be able to help that tourist speaking a language unfamiliar to you – a computer won’t recognise the instructions you give it unless you learn its language. Java is just one example of a computer language – one that can be read and written easily by people. Like any other language it has rules that determine how it is to be written in order for the computer to understand and execute the instructions.
IT Training and computer courses
Back to ‘Java’ jobs! Your job Java search will turn up titles like: Java Developer/Programmer, Web Service Developer, Technical Architect. All these jobs work on application development, design and coding.

So if you like what you have heard so far and are interested in learning more, the next step is to find a suitable course for you! Here are some examples of course providers:

Limerick Institute if Technology offer a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in software development. This programme has been widely endorsed by industry and focuses on software engineering and software development techniques (including Java). This degree programme produces highly skilled graduates who are ready to meet the needs of modern IT companies.

Pitman Training Ireland have a new Software Development Diploma which allows participants to choose between the MTA and Java paths.

IBM Education Ireland offer an on-line self-paced virtual course in Java Programming. This course is designed for people with little or no Java Programming experience.

Dorset College in Dublin has a range of Java programming courses catered towards part time and full time learners.

The Fitzwilliam Institute Group offer a Post-Graduate Diploma in Java Enterprise Web and Distributed Programming with Sun Certified Java exam preparation module. The aim of this course is to provide learners with skills, knowledge and competencies to be able to write and design sophisticated professional programs using JAVA. This particular area of JAVA is used world wide by large companies. This course will be of particular interest to anyone who wishes to develop a career in Internet & Web Programming.

Solas also offer various related courses – contact your local Solas office for further information.

So whether it is out of personal interest or for career reasons you can’t go wrong in learning and becoming competent in Java programming.

Find IT Training and Computer courses on >>

50,000 Apprenticeship and Trainee Registrations by 2020

Solas Apprenticeships IrelandThe Government’s Plan to expand apprenticeships and traineeships in Ireland  was recently launched in Piranha Bar, a creative digital studio producing commercials, films and animated content in Dublin City Centre. The plan aims to deliver 50,000 apprenticeship and traineeship registrations by 2020. Piranha bar will be running one of these programmes – an exciting new traineeship in visual effects.

There are currently 27 apprenticeships in Ireland, in areas such as construction, engineering and the motor sector. Other countries have a much broader tradition of apprenticeship. For example, Germany has over 300 apprenticeships, across a wide range of sectors.

Under the Plan, Apprenticeships and Traineeships will give an alternative career path for many young people. Apprentices and trainees will be embedded in enterprises and will get the chance to learn skills and get hands on experience. It will give young people the opportunity to acquire applied, technical skills within a variety of sectors, and provide a very practical grounding which will stand to them as they move through their career and take advantage of promotional opportunities. For companies, the aptitudes which will be learned by these apprentices and trainees will be invaluable. It will help exporting companies based in Ireland to scale their business, to grow their exports and to take advantage of the opportunities offered by a global economy.

The plan is based on the view that in order to have a properly functioning skills development system to support a growing economy, and in order to provide career paths for people of different types of interest and abilities, we must develop a stronger pipeline of apprenticeships and traineeships. Higher education institutions alone will supply a portion of our skills needs, but there is a need for stronger alternative routes and alternative sources of the different types of skills that a growing economy requires.

The Plan will accelerate the delivery of new apprenticeships and traineeships:

  • Roadmap with annual targets for the number of new Apprenticeship and Traineeships up to 2020
  • Clear 10 step path for the development of new apprenticeships and Traineeships
  • 2017 call for new Apprenticeship and Traineeship proposals to refresh the existing pipeline
  • Details of how state agencies, education and training providers and employers will work together
  • Enhance collaboration between the three education agencies SOLAS, HEA and QQI, in liaison with the Department of Education and Skills
  • Proactively engage with employers and enterprise to secure buy in and engagement with the apprenticeship and traineeship routes
  • Strategically build capacity within the education and training system, in the areas that include curriculum design, quality assurance and enterprise engagement; and mechanisms to underpin expansion with robust, ongoing monitoring and evaluation.
  • Launch an apprenticeship web portal; Enhance national IT systems and supports for apprenticeship underway to support connections with employers and apprentices nationally
  • Run a Promotional campaign, to target SMEs and FDI, guided by Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the regional skills fora.
  • Review patterns of participation in apprenticeship and traineeship by groups in apprenticeship, including female participation; identify any barriers existing, and makes recommendations for the future.

The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship, the first of the new programmes developed through the Apprenticeship Council’s first call for proposals, launched in September 2016 and an Industrial Engineer Apprenticeship commenced in November 2016. 13 further new apprenticeships are due to launch later this year in various sectors including medical devices, polymer processing and financial services.

A campaign to promote apprenticeship is currently being developed by SOLAS in consultation with key partners, including the Apprenticeship Council. The campaign will raise awareness and promote the value of apprenticeship for individual apprentices and for employers and it will cover both existing apprenticeships and the new apprenticeships now coming on stream.

For more information visit the SOLAS website at

Paper Versus Computer Screens

books versus computer screens for learningComputers and the internet play a huge part in learning nowadays. Online courses, online lecture notes for students and research material for essays are just some of the reasons behind the rise of computers in education.

But is our increased use of computers affecting our quality of learning? Would we be better sticking to traditional books and paper? Researchers at the Children’s Digital Media Centre in LA set out to answer these questions in a series of studies and the results were interesting.

The studies, based on sixty six students, examined three questions; what medium the students preferred to work with, if their memory and reading comprehension was better on paper or screen and which medium was better for critical thinking when essay writing.

Sixty of the sixty six students said that they preferred to study with paper than on the computer but when scientists tested this, the results showed that there was no difference in reading comprehension skills or memory after reading on paper or on screen, even when the students were allowed to multitask. Multitasking, however, did mean that the students took longer to read.

The scientists also found that there was no difference between reading source materials for essay writing online or on page. Even though the students felt that their essays would be better when they had researched on paper instead of the internet, the quality was the same for both paper and online research.

These results were only applicable to when the students did not have access to the internet, once the students went online and multitasked, the results went down. However, when students took notes from the internet using a pen and paper, results improved again.

While the internet and computer screens do not appear to hamper our learning dramatically, the way we read on the internet could be affecting our quality of reading. Cognitive neuroscientists have warned that humans are beginning to develop ‘digital’ style brains that skim through information and are unable to read slowly.

In the US, at the time of the study, time spent online was expected to be around five hours per day for the average adult; a three hour increase from the previous year. It is this time spent on the internet and on social media that has trained our brains to skim sentences for buzz words and has left us unable to read long pieces of writing as we are scrolling and scanning through pieces instead of reading.

This habit of jumping through text is bad news for studying, as we need to be able to absorb what we are reading in order to be able to learn. Maryanne Wolf, a cognitive neuroscientist at Tufts University, recommends having a balance between reading from books and on screen and advocates taking breaks from the computer to have time to read a book slowly.

So, when it comes to absorbing what we read, it appears that having a balance of both the computer and books is advisable.The old fashioned method of jotting down key points onto paper from online or digital sources is a good way of merging old and new, and try to stay away from social media when studying as this encourages the skimming style of reading mentioned above (feel free to use it to share this article though).

Author: Fiona McBennett

CAO Timetable 2017

With the CAO deadline on February 1st as the closing date for applications, now might be a good time to review the other important dates on the CAO calender for 2017. The table below outlines the timeframe for amending course choices, registering for PAS, HPAT tests (nursing and medicine students only) & completing HEAR/DARE forms (for socio-economically disadvantaged & disabled applicants). For more details check out the CAO website at

4th November (12:00) CAO online application facility opens.
CAO Change of Course choices facility opens
20th January (17:15) Apply online by this date to avail of the discounted application fee of €25.
1st February (17:15) Normal closing date for applications.
5th February (12:00) Online facility to amend course choices becomes available (€10 Fee)
Before 15th February Paper Applicants will be sent a Statement of Course Choices
(Contact CAO if you do not receive it)
Between 2nd February and 22nd February Registration for Mature Nursing Test (PAS)
25th February HPAT Test – Undergraduate Entry to Medicine
1st March (17:15) Closing date for amending course choices
Closing date for final completion of online HEAR/DARE forms
4th March MSAP Test – For mature applicants to certain courses in UCD, UCC, UL and NUI Galway
25th March GAMSAT Test – Graduate Entry to Medicine
1st April (17:15) Latest date for HEAR/DARE supporting documentation to arrive in CAO
Week beginning 20th April Mature Nursing Test (PAS)
1st May (17:15) Closing date for late applications
5th May (12:00) Online Change of Mind facility becomes available (Free)
Before 15th May Late Paper Applicants will be sent a Statement of Course Choices
(Contact CAO if you do not receive it)
Before End of May Statement of Application Record sent to all applicants
(Contact CAO if you do not receive it)
1st July (17:15) Change of Mind closes
Early July Round A offers for certain Non-Standard categories of applicants – applicants receive an offer by post, by e-mail and SMS text
22nd July (17:15) Exceptional closing date for late applications for those already attending a participating HEI
Early August Round 0 offers for certain Non-Standard categories of applicant – applicants receive an offer by post, by e-mail and SMS text
Mid-August Current year Leaving Certificate results issued
21st August Round 1 offers available from 06:00 online – also issued by post, e-mail and SMS text.
Applicants who have not received an offer will receive a Statement of Application Record
28th August Round 1 Acceptances closing date (17:15).
Acknowledgement of Acceptances posted within 3 working days.
31st August Round 2 offers available from 06:00 online.
Early September HEIs begin registration
6th September Round 2 Acceptances closing date (17:15).
Acknowledgement of Acceptances posted within 3 working days.
Early October Results of Leaving Certificate appeals released
18th October (17:15) Offer Season Ends.

What is VTOS?

vtos coursesIf you are over 21 years of age, unemployed and have been getting certain social welfare payments for at least 6 months you can apply for the Vocational Training and Opportunities Scheme (VTOS). The VTOS scheme provides a wide range of courses to meet the education and training needs of unemployed people. It gives participants opportunities to improve their general level of education, gain certification, develop their skills and prepare for employment, self-employment and further education and training. VTOS is operated through local Education and Training Boards and is aimed in particular at unemployed people who are early school-leavers.


What kinds of courses are available?
The courses range from basic education and training to advanced vocational training and there is a wide choice of subjects. The courses are full-time, about 30 hours a week (for example, 6 hours a day for 5 days) and can last up to 2 years. Many courses lead to qualifications such as the Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate and awards at Levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications. You can find a list of VTOS courses on your local ETB (Education and Training Board) website. Find your local ETB at


You may qualify for the VTOS scheme if you are aged 21 years or over and you are:

  • Getting, Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance or signing for credits for at least 6 months or
  • Getting One-Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance, Illness Benefit* or Invalidity Pension for at least 6 months or
  • Getting Blind Pension, Deserted Wife’s Allowance/Benefit, Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension, Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension or Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance for at least 6 months (conditions may apply in the case of these payments) or
  • A dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of an eligible person
  • A person who received statutory redundancy but who has not been in receipt of a qualifying payment for the required period.

Periods spent on FET training courses, Community Employment Schemes, Job Initiative, Youthreach programmes and time in prison can count towards the qualifying period.
* If you are claiming Illness Benefit, you should contact your local social welfare office about exemption/entitlement to continuation of your Illness Benefit payment.


There are no fees for VTOS courses and you will get free books and materials at the start of the course. Depending on your individual circumstances you may be eligible for the following:

  • Meal allowance
  • Travel allowance
  • Free childcare place for children under the Childcare Employment and Training Support (CETS) scheme,
  • A training bonus payment, if you have been getting an eligible social welfare payment for at least 12 months before starting the VTOS scheme. It was announced in Budget 2014, from 1 January 2014, the €20 bonus payment to long-term unemployed VTOS participants will end. This only applies to new participants.
    More detailed information about the rates of payment for VTOS participants is on the Department of Social Protection website.

How to apply

Students can participate in a chosen VTOS course as one of the following;

  • A core VTOS student attending a VTOS centre or adult education centre or
  • A dispersed VTOS student, usually attending a Post-Leaving Certificate course in a further education college.

Contact the VTOS co-ordinator at your local ETB centre to find out more about the VTOS courses available.



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Online Degree Courses

online degrees irelandDistance learning has become increasingly popular in recent years, however, the idea of distance learning is not all that new; there have been distance education programmes available in Ireland for over 25 years. These courses were print-based at the beginning, however, today it is easy to enrol in an online course, with the selection of subjects, colleges and courses, including degrees, greater than ever.

Doing a degree online is a convenient way for those with busy lives to study and work at the same time. The benefits of online classes, online tutor-student support and forums for discussion with classmates, provides a college experience without the commitment of having to attend a college every day for lectures.

There are many places to choose from when considering e-learning at degree level. Below are just some of the colleges in Ireland that offer degree courses online.

NUI Galway
NUI Galway offers online , blended and modular learning programmes. The same education is provided online as in a classroom setting and the programmes offered range from level 7 to level 9 in the NFQ. Degree programmes typically take 4 years to complete and are assessed through assignments, learning journals and online contributions and examinations. Courses on offer include a BA in Social Care, a degree in Early Childhood Studies and Practice and a BSc in Rural Development.

Hibernia College
Ireland’s first wholly online provider of third level degrees, Hibernia College was established in 2000 and is best known for providing postgraduate primary school teacher training courses. It now trains more teachers than the all of the traditional teacher training colleges put together. Hibernia now offers a postgraduate course in second level education as well as degrees in computing and business.

Sligo IT
Sligo IT had more than 600 students register this year for online certificate and degree courses. The college has seen a 15% rise in their number of online students and this has brought their online student population up to nearly 1,300. The majority of courses are 2 year part-time and range from certificate to postgraduate level. Fees for a 2 year course vary from €4,000 for a level 6 certificate to €9,000 for a level 9 post graduate course.

Dublin City University offers a selection of online degree programmes through Oscail, where students can interact with their tutors online once they have paid their fee and registered. DCU’s virtual learning environment provides students with the opportunity to ask questions through online forums and attend live online tutorials. Each student has a tutor to help them with their studies and there are face to face meet ups on campus also. A BA course with Oscail costs €9,000 and students over 23 with no previous qualifications can apply.

UCD Online has been developed as a response to growing student demand as well as recent advances in online learning. Based on 150 years of experience in developing courses, UCD Online provides students with the same quality material and support as campus students but with a flexibility that allows students to work in a way that suits them. Students are assigned a personal tutor and many of the courses are taught through modules that are delivered on demand. Methods of assessment are specific to each module and each module is assessed separately. Courses on offer include a Bachelor of Business Studies.

Ulearning at the University of Limerick was established in 2008 and works to connect industry and academia by focusing on individual and corporate skill gaps. Degree courses such as Bachelor of Science in Supply Chain Management as well as a Masters in Software Engineering are on offer.

Click to View Distance Learning Courses on

: Fiona McBennett

Higher Education Links Scheme

Higher Education Links SchemeIn 2013, FETAC (now QQI) introduced a wide range of major awards with new features, many of which provide links to higher education through the CAO. These awards are part of a national awards system for further education and training known as the Common Awards System (CAS).

A major award reflects a significant amount of learning and creates an opportunity for progression to higher education. A new scoring system for CAO applicants to higher education was also introduced called the Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS), which continues to develop and grow and incorporates the CAS awards with other QQI awards. It provides progression opportunities through the CAO for further education award holders at level 5 and 6 to the first year of higher education programmes.

The HEL scoring system applies to level 5 and 6 awards listed on higher education institutions’ websites. Application requirements are as follows:

  • Progression is on the basis of achieving a major award which provides 120 credits. Scoring is on the basis of credits and component awards or achievement of less than this will not suffice.
  • The applicant must make sure that their QQI registered centre applies to QQIfor a major award prior to application to the CAO
  • A major award may be achieved over more than one year, however applicants should check with individual institutions to confirm.
  • Some programmes in higher education require achievement of specified component awards or additional awards, such as a language, and applicants are advised to check with the CAO and the individual institutions.
  • Results are scored on the best achievement of component awards to a value of 120 credits.

Universities and IT’s both offer places on the scheme but universities only offer places from a reserved quota for QQI award holders. IT’s generally accept applications on the basis on any CAS or QQI (NCVA) award in open competition with Leaving Certificate applicants, however, some programmes, such as some Nursing Degrees, have reserve quotas for QQI applicants only.

Applicants are advised to check all progression opportunities and details of course entry requirements, including additional requirements with the CAO website and with the Admission Office of individual institutes.

Author: Fiona McBennett

PCI College, 2017 Open Days

pci college open daysIf you are considering a career in counselling, or want an amazing personal development course to enrich your own life and understanding of others, then why not go along to one of the PCI College Open Days! You can find out more about the courses, and be entered into a draw to win a free place on the spring Certificate in Counselling & Psychotherapy, starting in February 2017.

The Open Days will be held in each of the course venues, and you can meet Lecturers, Admissions staff and Graduates to answer all your questions, from course content to timetables, qualifications, fees and teaching approach.

Open Days Venues & Dates

  • Saturday 21st January 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Dublin City Centre, College House, Townsend Street, Dublin 2
  • Saturday 21st January 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Cork, Cork Education Centre, Western Road, Cork
  • Saturday 21st January 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Dublin West, Corrig House, Old Naas Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22
  • Tuesday 24th January 2017 1.00pm – 7.00pm – PCI College Kilkenny, Butler House, Patrick Street, Kilkenny
  • Thursday 26th January 2017 1.00pm – 7.00pm – PCI College Dublin City Centre, College House, Townsend Street, Dublin 2
  • Saturday 4th February 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Athlone, Athlone Education Centre, Moydrum Road, Athlone
  • Saturday 4th February 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Belfast, Inspire (NIAMH/Carecall) Central Office, Lombard House, 10-20 Lombard Street, Belfast, BT1 1 RD
  • Saturday 4th February 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Limerick, Limerick Education Centre, Dooradoyle Road, Limerick

These Open Days are Free of Charge – Please Register your interest and let us know what time you plan to attend the Open Day. You can see more details here.

The Certificate in Counselling & Psychotherapy (starting February 2017) is a 100 hour introductory course in counselling & psychotherapy, which introduces you to the three main elements of Counselling & Psychotherapy – personal development, counselling skills and theories & approaches. It meets the entry criteria for the BSc honours degree, and is a fulfilling and energising personal development course which can benefit anyone.

If you want more information now, or have if you have questions about the Open Days or our courses, call us (ask for David or Adam) at 01-464 2268 or email and we’ll get in touch.

View PCI College Courses on

Engage ’17 – Galway: An Adult Learning Event that Focuses on You!

Engage Galway 2017If you are interested in up-skilling, changing careers, or are unsure about what study option to take, then come along to Engage ’17 on Saturday, 28th January in the Connacht Hotel, Dublin Road, Galway, from 10-1pm.

This event focuses on adult learners and brings together careers advisors and educational providers in the Galway region. “By reviewing what your current skills and interests are, our advisors can explore learning pathways with you, which can help you achieve your goals whether your direction is a work or study-based one”, explains Nuala McGuinn, Director, Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development at NUI Galway.

One-to-one consultations are available for those who wish to speak directly with a career counsellor. “These sessions, which are free of charge, can be pre-booked online. Each consultation will focus on the individual’s personal work and education history and will explore future study and career options with the assistance of a qualified counsellor”, advises Bridie Kiloran, Guidance Counsellor, GMIT.

The event is being hosted by the Regional Skills Forum West, a network which supports the development of businesses and their employees through training programmes, research projects and entrepreneurship activities.

Engage Galway

“This unique event brings together further and higher education providers with representatives from GMIT, GTI, GRETB and NUI Galway available to discuss study options, apprenticeships and support services for adult learners”, highlights Claire Hurley, Regional Skills Forum West Manager.

This one-stop-shop event also engages employers with representatives from eight, key industry sectors providing careers advice on the various roles and career options in their area.

Sectors include:

  • Business, Sales & Languages
  • Construction
  • Creative Arts
  • Humanities
  • Information Technology
  • Science & Engineering
  • Social Impact Careers
  • Tourism/Hospitality

It’s a perfect opportunity to hear first-hand, about job categories and specific skill sets that these sectors are actively looking for. “Meeting people who work every day in these industries provides a valuable insight for adults who are either seeking work or considering a career move”, outlines Siobhán Brangwyn of the Adult Education Guidance & Information Service at GRETB.

Register for the event and/or book your one-to-one consultation at:
Further information:
Phone: 091 494066
Social Media: #engagegalway

Further Education, The PLC Application Process

how to apply for plc courseFurther Education can be described as education and training which occurs after second level schooling but which is not part of the third level system. Further education providers offer a wide variety of QQI level 5 and level 6 courses often known as Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses. Students mostly enter into these courses following the Leaving Certificate or when returning to education. Most courses require applicants to have five passes in the Leaving Certificate or a pass at Leaving Certificate Applied, however, mature applicants without these requirements are also considered.

Around Spring each year, many further education colleges hold interviews for first round applicants. The interviews are normally conducted by members of the teaching staff who are aware that many students may not have been in an interview situation before. Therefore, questions are not designed to trick students and the interviewers are happy to help applicants if needed.

The purpose of the interviews is to assess if the applicant is suitable for the course and interview questions are based on course content and the applicant’s experience and career plans. Some colleges ask that applicants bring along samples of work, especially when applying for creative courses , however the colleges are only looking to establish the applicant’s level of interest and are not looking for a high level of skill. Colleges may also require a reference from the student’s school or a recent report.

Most further education colleges do not have a closing date for applications and continue to accept applications until all places are filled. However, with the popularity of these courses increasing in recent times, students are encouraged to apply early to ensure they have the best chance of attaining a place.

When applying for a course, applicants are advised to look over the course information and familiarise themselves with the course content. Applicants should also be ready to talk about how their chosen course will fit into their long-term goals i.e. Will they be entering into employment or continuing their studies? Applicants are also advised to mention any relevant work experience they may have and are advised to dress smartly and arrive on time.

Some examples of further education colleges are lsited below.

St. Louis Community School, Mayo, offers PLC courses in areas such as Childcare Classroom Assistant Special Needs (level 5), Nursing studies (level 5) and Business Administration (level 6).

Dorset College, Dublin, offers PLC courses in areas such as Diploma in Accounting and Business, Diploma in Project Management and Game Design and Animation Development.

Portobello Institute is based in Dublin but also runs courses in other parts of the country. It offers PLC courses in topics such as Speech and Language Therapy Assistant, Occupational Therapy Assistant and Advanced Beauty Therapy.

Dun Laoghaire College of Further Education runs a range of Arts, Business, Computing, Design, Healthcare, Media and Animal welfare courses in the South Dublin area.

Rathmines College in Dublin 6 offers further education and PLC courses in the areas of Business, computers, liberal arts, office administration, PR, Journalism and more.

Moate Business College in the midlands caters to a wide catchment area and offers a lot more than business. Students here can choose from healthcare, computer studies, art & design and more.

View PLC and Further Education Courses on –

Author: Fiona McBennett