With most of the focus at this time of year being on CAO applications, it is easy to forget that there are other ways to access education after leaving secondary school. PLC courses are a fantastic opportunity for those who may have an interest in a certain subject area but are concerned that CAO points may hold them back.
PLC courses are not applied for through the CAO system but instead the student applies directly to the college they wish to attend. It is free to apply and successful applicants are selected by way of an interview. These interviews are often informal and give the student a chance to talk about their particular interest in the course they are applying for.
Many PLC courses are a great opportunity to sample a course before doing a degree and some facilitate the student entering the work place. PLC courses can also allow students to gain entry to institutes of technology and universities with courses such as pre-nursing and pre-engineering now widely available.
Most PLCs are given by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and a wide range of subjects are on offer, such as theatre and stage, childcare, electronics engineering and many more. Students are charged €200 a year to attend a PLC course but there are some exemptions to this such as having a full medical card or being eligible for a student grant.
The qualifications a student receives at the end of their training will depend on the course they have studied. Most of the one year courses offer a level 5 NFQ. The majority of students with a level 5 qualification can take up a position of employment and also meet the minimum requirements for some higher education courses.
Other, more advanced, PLC courses may offer a level 6 NFQ which provides the student with the opportunity to continue their studies at third level. This level 6 qualification is awarded to a student on completion of two year long programme in a higher education institution and allows the holder to continue to the next level of the NFQ framework. A level 7 NFQ is an ordinary bachelor degree and allows for progression to a level 8 honours bachelor degree or higher diploma.