Higher Education Links Scheme – HELS

Higher Education Links Scheme – HELS

Progression Routes into Higher Education
The Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS) gives further education learners the opportunity to use their QQI Level 5 or 6 major award to apply, through the CAO, for a place in the first year of a higher education programme.

PLC or further education courses leading to Level 5 and Level 6 major awards are available through providers who have programmes validated by QQI (Quality & Qualifications Ireland). Application to participate in the programme is made directly to the course provider after graduating with sufficient QQI points from a further education course.

Rules for Eligibility to the Scheme
Level 5 and Level 6 Major Awards are made up of a number of Minor Awards known as components. Different combinations of components lead to different Major Awards.

Each component has a credit value, typically between 15 and 30. A Major Award needs 120 credits, made up by combining components. For example: 8 components of 15 credits each = 120 credits.

  • Progression requires a full Level 5 or Level 6 Major Award, with at least 120 credits. In some instances, progression is on the
    basis of specific Level 5 or 6 Major Awards.
  • Components (Minor Awards), or achievement of less than 120 credits, will not suffice for progression under the HELS
  • The applicant is responsible for ensuring that their college/provider applies to QQI for Major Award status on their behalf,
    prior to application to the CAO

Applicants MUST check both the individual Higher Education institution and the CAO websites to ensure they meet any special or essential requirements specified such as:

  • A specific Major Award.
  • A specific grade in specific components.
  • Additional Award requirements such as mathematics.
  • That all credits used for scoring purposes are achieved in one ‘single sitting’

What does ‘single sitting’ mean?
Whilst Major Award may be achieved over more than one year, it is important to note that some higher education institutions require that your 120 credits are achieved within a ‘single sitting’ between 1 August and 31 July of any certification year. Check the CAO and individual college websites for specific requirements.

The Scoring System for FET awards
Once all of the above requirements have been met, a learner can apply for a place on the linked higher education programme. The best score for each applicant is calculated and the results are forwarded to the CAO in July of each year.

You can calculate your score using the free online QQI points calculator at www.plccourses.ie, which is based on the following scoring system:

Each level 5 and level 6 component is scored:

  • 3.25 for a Distinction
  • 2.16 for a Merit
  • 1.08 for a Pass

This number is then multiplied by the individual component credit value to a maximum of 120 credits (a total of 390 points).

It may be easiest to multiply the individual component credit value by 3 for Distinction, 2 for Merit, and 1 for Pass, multiplying by 13 and dividing by 12.

Note: It is the responsibility of applicants to confirm linked awards, any additional requirements, application processes and scoring systems with the Admission Offices of participating higher education institutions or by visiting www.cao.ie

Detailed information on these progression routes and entry requirements, and on progression routes for apprentices made redundant after Phase 4 of the Apprenticeship Programme, are available from individual higher education institutions.

Note: All information relating to linked higher education courses has been provided by the participating higher education institutions to the CAO and every effort has been made to ensure that it is accurate and current.

More about the HELS
Since its inception almost twenty years ago, higher education institutions have used the scheme to expand transparent progression routes to higher education programmes. While awards standards have been updated over time, once a higher education institution links an award, admissions processes typically continue to consider that linked award as part of an application to participate in higher education programmes, along with revised awards and other new awards.

Linked awards, special requirements and available higher education programmes are published by the admissions office of the individual higher education institution and on www.cao.ie.

More Information – http://www.qqi.ie/Articles/Pages/HIgher-Education-Links-Scheme-(HELS).aspx

View some more information about further education and PLC courses in Ireland.