August 2014 E-News

Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter August 2014 E-Bulletin
Education NewsCollege Progression Rates Study
Education News
A recent study by the Higher Education Authority has found that 84% of full-time first year undergraduate new entrants in 2010/11 in Irish higher education institutions progressed to the following academic year 2011/12. This compares to 85% in a similar study of 2007/8 entrants. The rates of non-progression are broadly similar in both studies, even though this new piece of work looks at students who entered college as the recession began to seriously impact.
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Featured Educator Institute of Art, Design and Technology
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IADT is unique in Ireland. It is one of the 13 Institutes of Technology, but the only Institute of Art, Design and Technology. Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology specialises in creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation in the digital age set in an educational environment that values the whole student experience.
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Featured Courses
NEFPC Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer and Group Instructor Certificate

NEFPC Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer and Group Instructor Certificate , Nationwide locations
The NEFPC provide tools and strategies to get on the fast track to success as a Fitness instructor and Personal Trainer. The team of tutors are highly successful trainers in their chosen fields and are there to give more than just content from a manual. Participants will learn tried and tested advanced training techniques used by Ireland’s strongest Personal Trainers and Group instructors.
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Certificate (and Diploma) in Project Management

Certificate (and Diploma) in Project Management , Dublin
The Certificate in Project Management has given hundreds of project managers and project team members the core knowledge and skills required to deliver projects successfully. This programme covers best practice in project initiation, project planning and managing people in a project setting. Students will learn from experienced tutors, and from each other, how to manage their projects effectively and to meet the expectations of their stakeholders.

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Category Focus Languages
Featured Category
From Arabic to Vietnamese, our languages category page offers a wide range of courses from languages for beginners to more advanced course options for improvers.Check out our Languages Course Listings for more information and our Languages Articles for language learning tips and information.

Featured Article Higher Education Links Scheme
Featured Article
In 2013, FETAC introduced a wide range of major awards with new features, many of which provide links to higher education through the CAO. The new awards are part of a national awards system for further education and training known as the Common Awards System (CAS). These new awards use all the features of the NFQ.
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College Open Days
Open days can be a great way of evaluating a college and getting a flavour of what you can expect in term of facilities, location and class tutors. See a selection of upcoming open days and open evenings on
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Upcoming Open Days
upcoming courses
distance learning courses
IPASS, BSM Building, Parkmore Business Park West, Galway
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College Progression Rates Study

college progression and drop-out ratesA recent study by the Higher Education Authority on college progression rates has found that 84% of full-time first year undergraduate new entrants in 2010/11 in Irish higher education institutions progressed to the following academic year 2011/12. This compares to 85% in a similar study of 2007/8 entrants. The rates of non-progression are broadly similar in both studies, even though this new piece of work looks at students who entered college as the recession began to seriously impact.

Non-progression rates vary across the higher education system. Among level 8 (honours degree) programmes, it ranges from 17% in an institute of technology (compared to 16% in 2007/08) to 9% in the universities and 4% in other colleges, (consistent with the last study). Regardless of the sector or level that a student enters, students with lower Leaving Certificate points are less likely to progress to the following academic year.

Computing non-progression rates are seen to have improved across all levels since 2007/08. Improving from 35% to 31% at level 6, 36% to 34% at level 7 and 25% to 23% at level 8.

Concern continues, however, about high levels of non-progression in construction related courses. At level 6, Engineering and Construction and Related have the highest non-progression rate at 39% and at level 7, Construction and Related has the highest rate at 40%.

The highest rates of progression continue to be amongst the profession-orientated courses such as Medicine, Veterinary and Teacher Education.

As was the case in the 2007/08 study, females continue to display higher rates of progression than males. The overall male non-progression rate is 19% compared to 13% for females. This compares to 17% and 13% in 2007/08. This shows a disimprovement in male progression.

The students are tracked using a student identification number unique to the institution. A student is deemed to have progressed if they are present in second year of the following academic year in their own institution. The study does not take account of students who transfer from one institution to another.

Commenting on the study, John Hennessy, Chair of the Higher Education Authority said,

“Internationally, we continue to perform well. We have one of the highest participation rates in higher education in the world and a very good progression rate to ensure that students complete their course. Improvements in progression in computing and science are welcome. That said, we need to understand why many students don’t make it through. There is increased emphasis by the colleges on support in first year but we need to ask are some students sufficiently prepared for college life? Do they pick the wrong course and therefore, need greater guidance at second level?”

“Behind these statistics, there are around 7,000 students who do not progress from first to second year. This has an impact on their lives but is also costly to the system.”

The National Forum on Teaching and Learning, established by the HEA, is currently examining good practice at improving progression rates.

Reproduced under licence from ©Higher Education Authority.
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CAO Offers and Acceptance Process

cao-formCAO offers and Acceptances: Things to know and consider before you say ‘I do’

Shortly after the Leaving Cert results are received, the CAO offer and acceptance stage begins. This stage of the CAO calendar of events is pretty straightforward; when guidelines, requirements, and important dates, should be kept in mind.

In relation to level 6/7 and level 8 courses; offers are issued independently. There are some applicants who may be successful in receiving two offers of places simultaneously. If you do receive more than one offer, you may make successive acceptances, but each acceptance automatically cancels and supersedes any previous acceptance(s). CAO will allow you to have only one current acceptance in the entire system at any one time. Also an offer will lapse unless accepted within a specified period. There are cases where students have lost out on courses by not adhering to the time-frames in place when it comes to accepting a CAO offer.

In terms of how courses are offered: each applicant will be offered a place in the highest of their course preferences to which they are entitled (if you are entitled to any offer in the first place). When you have been offered a place in one of you course choices, you are excluded from further consideration for any course which is lower in your order of preference than the one in which you have been offered a place. This means that while you may subsequently move upwards in your order of preference if places become available; you will not be considered for a place in a course which is a lower preference than that already offered. However, you could be offered a course which is not your first preference but you may subsequently be offered a place in a course of higher preference if such a place becomes available. This applies whether or not the earlier offer has been accepted. It is not necessary to accept an offer in order to be considered for a higher preference if it becomes available later.

As a new student about to enter higher education, it is worth serious consideration and attention. When being offered a place, the applicant will have more than likely won that place over somebody else. Essentially it is an investment in the future. This can be a three/four year commitment and that is how it should be approached; as a serious commitment.

Before you make up your mind about the course you accept; familiarise yourself with every aspect of the course you have been offered and the career prospects on completion. This can be done easily by accessing course details from the relevant college website. Look at the entire content of the course as some new students get a shock to discover they will be studying various subjects within their course that they abhor or don’t have any interest in. Ask yourself ‘am I genuinely interested in this course and the career that it will lead to’. Up to 33% of first years drop out before the end of first year from some faculties – often because they did not like some of their lectures.

It is often the case that students will automatically choose whatever they get offered from their honours degree course list and dismiss a course they might have a genuine interest (if given thought and reflection) in from the  level 6/7 higher certificate/ordinary degree programme list, just because it is not an honours degree. This is quite unfortunate for a number of reasons but more so because higher certificate/ordinary degree programmes offer students the options of progressing onwards to level 8, if they wish to do so.

There are graduates today who are very definite when they admit, that in not receiving their first choice through the CAO application process, but in accepting a lower preference, that they ended up in a course they loved and subsequently in their dream job. Therefore, sometimes what seems like a misfortune can be that ‘blessing in disguise’ – even when it comes to CAO offers and acceptances.

Important dates to keep in mind:

o      Mid-August

Leaving Certificate results issued

o      18 August (expected date)

Round 1 offers

o      25 August (expected date)

Round 1 Acceptances 5:15 pm.

o      28 August (expected date)

Round 2 offers

Useful Resources

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Going Green – Environmental Courses

environmental coursesThese days it is feared that human activity is causing a lot of problems with our environment. As a result, there is a great demand for graduates to fulfil the many job roles that have been created by environmental legislation. These roles are usually involved in minimisation & prevention of pollution, waste, climate change, resource depletion and other such issues. Some departments need environmental researchers, others need planners, whilst more legally focused minds will be needed in implementing the legislation as law. Such a rewarding and worthwhile course choice may well be worth investigating further by those aiming to enter environmental fields as a career.

Environmental graduates can go on to work in areas such as emergency planning, maintenance and preservation of national parks, research collaboration, waste prevention, sustainable energy management, town planning and a large number of other careers. A good environmental course will allow you to go into any of these fields, although more specialisation may then be required to steer students towards specific fields of study.

Enviromental Geology Courses Ireland

The length of an environmental course can vary depending on the level of the course. There are a number of higher certificate course options out there, the average length of those is two years. There are also degree courses in environmental engineering and sciences and they tend to last three to four years. However there are also short environmental courses offered at community colleges, these can give an idea of what is involved and also serve to supplement knowledge. In this way participants can test the waters before committing to a more lengthy study programme or can upgrade current skills & knowledge to further career prospects.

The following institutes have a selection of courses on offer for anyone looking to get into the areas of environmental study..

1. – Trinity College Dublin – Trinity College has a Centre for the Environment and thus has a vast array of courses. They are both undergraduate and postgraduate but the research that is conducted there may just give you the career edge.

2. – The School of Natural Sciences in NUI Galway offers a range of undergraduate, postgraduate and research options for environmental students.

3. – Environmental Institute at University College Dublin – UCD offers a general degree in the environmental sciences, and it is designed to give individuals an introduction to the elements involved in it!

4. – Waterford Institute of Technology – There is a two year National Certificate in environmental engineering on offer here, which is slightly different and offers a shorter term study option than the degree courses on offer elsewhere.

5. – Institute of Technology Carlow – This institution offers a range of courses, from the one year diploma to the two year National Certificate and includes a good range of work placement opportunities.

Further Resources
View the following link for Environmental Course Listings

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PLC and Further Education Options

plc coursesIf you have finished your secondary education in Ireland and would like to develop vocational or technological skills in order to get a job or to go into further education and training, a Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course may be what you are looking for. PLC’s are often seen as just an option for school-leavers. In fact, you will be also welcomed as an adult participant.

PLC courses take place in schools, colleges and community education centres around the country. The courses are full-time and last for one to two years. They offer a mixture of “hands-on” practical work, academic work and work experience. They are designed as a step towards skilled employment and, as such, they are closely linked to industry and its needs. Post Leaving Certificate courses adopt an integrated approach, focusing on technical knowledge, core skills and work experience. Almost 50% of the time spent on these courses is devoted to knowledge and skill training related to employment, with a further 25% on relevant work-based experience.

Over 90% of PLC courses are delivered by ETBs (Educationing and Training Boards). A wide range of disciplines are covered including business, electronics, engineering, computing, catering, sport and leisure, theatre and stage, performance art, art craft and design, equestrian studies, multi-media studies, journalism, tourism, marketing, childcare and community care, hairdressing and beauty care, applied science, horticulture etc. The Department of Education carries a list of PLC courses by county.

The qualification you receive at the end of your training will depend on the type of course you have chosen. Many of the one-year PLC courses offer QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland – previously FETAC) accreditation at level 5, while other more advanced courses may offer QQI level 6, which can lead to further studies at third level. Other qualifications such as City and Guilds are also available. It is important to check out the qualification attached to a particular course before you decide to enrol.

In general, you should have finished your secondary education and taken your Leaving Certificate examination in order to be eligible for a PLC course. However, if you have work experience relevant to the course on offer or think you can demonstrate a particular ability in that area, you should write to the college where the course will take place. Explain your circumstances in the letter and ask to meet the co-ordinator of the course.

PLC Grants
A maintenance grant scheme for which PLC students are able to apply is available. The maintenance scheme is means tested, and grants are paid along the same lines as the current third level student support scheme. Grant applications are available through SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland –

How to apply
Find the course in which you are most interested and apply directly to the school or college offering that course. Because the courses are work-related, you will probably be called for an interview before a final selection is made. These interviews are often quite informal and offer you the opportunity to discuss your particular interest in the course.

Click to View PLC Courses listed on

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CAO Choices Trend Towards Business and IT

cao choices 2014The latest figures to be released by the CAO show the main trends in this year’s college applications. One of the main trends was an increase in demand for courses in business, IT and engineering.

The figures also show that 41,897 applicants availed of the Change of Mind facility, the deadline for which was July 1st, a figure that is more than half of the total amount of this year’s CAO applicants.

The majority of changes, 38, 364, were on the level 8, honours degree course lists, with 22,007 on the level 6 higher certificate and level 7 ordinary degree courses.

The overall demand for college places is at record levels this year, with 77,725 applications in total, up 1,600 from last year. This increase it due to an expanding student population and an increase in students finishing second level education.

Last year saw business courses bounce back and the continuing trend for technology related courses reflects the current growth in jobs in the sector. Areas that suffered during the recession, such as construction and law, have seen a decrease in demand.

For those applying for medicine, entry is based on both CAO points and the HPAT aptitude test results. The HPAT gives students a good idea of their prospects and so, after the results are released at the end of June, applications for a place in one of the medical schools declines.

Applications for science, while they have been steady for the past few years, have levelled off, as have applications for teaching.

Mature student applications continue to drop this year, with just 11,000 applicants compared to 15,000 in 2010, as Springboard and other back to college courses have catered for that demand.

Round A offers were made on July 4th, these consisted of offers to deferred applicants and mature students. 7,240 offers were made, 6,232 of which were to mature students. The main section of CAO offers are to be made on Monday August 18th.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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New Awards Policy for IT’s

new awards policyQuality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) have recently published a revised policy on delegation of authority to Institutes of Technology (ITs). The policy will establish the infrastructure needed to allow ITs to create joint awards as well as allow them to validate their own research degree programmes in any discipline area at NFQ level 9.

The overall approach of the ITs when establishing these joint awards will be consistent with QQI’s approach and with the standards of the NFQ. Before a joint award can be made by an institute, the education programme and training leading to the award has to be validated by the institute against one of the NFQ’s higher education awards. This means that the learning must meet the expectations of the NFQ’s standards for learning outcomes.

Creating joint awarding involves risk, due to the involvement of multiple institutions and so diligence is required by ITs to ensure that the awards are properly recognised. It is also important that the awards are recognised in other countries where a transnational programme is involved.

A joint award, according to the HETAC Awards Council, refers to a higher education qualification issued jointly by at least two or more higher education institutions or jointly, by one or more higher education institutions and other awarding bodies, on the basis of an education programme created and/or provided jointly by the higher education institutions.

In order for an IT to make awards at NFQ level 9, the QQI must be satisfied with the institute’s:

  • capacity for maintaining an institutional strategy for research
  • ability to execute the awarding body management, functions and operations concerned with awarding research master’s degrees
  • operations and management with respect to the provision of master’s level research degree programmes and training, including a research validation process to replace the QQI’s research validation process

As a result of this new policy, ITs will implement sectoral protocols concerning joint awarding and awarding research master’s degrees. These sectoral protocols will be two high level documents, concerning joint awarding and level 9 research degree programmes, and will replace existing protocols already in place in ITs .

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Education NewsICT in Schools
Education News
Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Finland and Denmark have done it and now the UK is following suit. These countries have all updated their primary school curriculum to include ICT (Information and Communications Technology) as a subject and it’s time that Ireland did the same, say ICT experts. Ireland is currently a global hub for technology companies.

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Featured Educator NUI Galway Adult Education
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NUI Galway is one of Ireland’s leading centres of academia and has established a well earned reputation of high quality education. The college offers a large selection of programmes for adult learners, postgraduates and mature students.

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Featured Courses
Postgraduate Certificate in Psychology (Level 8)

Postgraduate Certificate in Psychology (Level 8) , Dublin City

This programme will appeal to any Graduates with an interest in psychology. It will also act as a bridging gap to those who want to continue on to the competitive Higher Diploma in Psychology courses available in Irish Universities such as UCD, Trinity and UCC.

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Journalism Media Diploma

Journalism Media Diploma, Dublin City

The Diploma in Journalism and Media Studies (ICM) will commence for 20 weeks, 6 months in total. Classes are held off Dame Street, Dublin 2, one evening per week. The Diploma in Journalism and Media Studies is a highly rewarding, challenging and fascinating course , covering both print and broadcast journalism. The Diploma is divided into five main units..

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Category Focus Management
Featured Category
If you are considering a career in management or perhaps feel that you are ready to take on more responsibility in your current position then a management course could help you learn some valuable techniques and set you in the right direction. There are a wide array of courses ranging from project management, event management, HR management and more. For more details view our Management Training courses page at
Featured Article Popular PLC Courses
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Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are full-time programmes available to students who have completed their Leaving Certificate as well as adults returning to full-time education. PLCs are typically run in vocational schools or in voluntary community, comprehensive and secondary schools. Aimed mainly at students who wish to develop technical or vocational skills in order to enter employment or continue to higher education, PLCs typically lead to QQI awards at NFQ level 5 and NFQ level 6.

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College Open Days
Open days can be a great way of evaluating a college and getting a flavour of what you can expect in term of facilities, location and class tutors. See a selection of upcoming open days and open evenings on

College Open Days ››

Upcoming Open Days, BSM Building, Parkmore Business Park West, Galway
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Apprenticeship Council to be Established

apprenticeship councilA new Apprenticeship Council has been announced which will develop the area of training and on the job experience.

To coincide with the announcement, an Apprenticeship Implementation Plan has also been published, following a review of apprenticeship in Ireland, chaired by Kevin Duffy, Chairperson of the Labour Court. (View Apprenticeship Implementation plan here).

An apprenticeship is the recognised training involved in becoming a craftsman in Ireland. Some of the main craft trades include mechanics, electrical, plastering, plumbing and carpentry. These trades have been designated by SOLAS and are within the scope of the Statutory Apprenticeship system.

Apprenticeships are demand driven educational and training programmes. Based in the classroom and the workplace, the programmes are aimed at developing the skills necessary for the needs of the labour market. Apprentices are paid an Industrial Apprentice Wage Rate, which may vary, depending on the employer and the occupation.

The first aim of the newly formed Apprenticeship Council will be to call for proposals from industries for new apprenticeships. The council with then submit the proposals to the Minister for a decision on what new apprenticeships should be introduced.

As well as this, the curricula for the current apprenticeships will be reviewed and five trades are currently being reviewed by SOLAS (Plumbing, Electrical, Carpentry and Joinery, Heavy Vehicle Mechanics and Metal Fabrication). Although this process has been slow, it is hoped that reviews for the remaining trades will be faster.

The Irish labour market has seen huge changes in recent years and there has been criticism that apprenticeships have not adapted to meet the new needs and job opportunities of the current climate. However, Minister Quinn said that he is aware of the importance of the modernisation of the apprenticeship system and is hopeful there will be new apprenticeships in areas where there are new job opportunities in two years time.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Information and Communications Technology in Schools

ict in schoolsIsrael, New Zealand, Australia, Finland and Denmark have done it and now the UK is following suit. These countries have all updated their primary school curriculum to include ICT as a subject and it’s time that Ireland did the same, say ICT experts.

Ireland is currently a global hub for technology companies. Despite the economic downturn of the past few years, the country remains the second biggest exporter of IT services in the world. Ireland has attracted big names such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter and EMC and the sector accounts for approximately €70bn in Irish exports.

However, the current shortage of skilled Irish programmers means that technology companies are recruiting employees from overseas. According to Padraig Flanagan, President of the National Association of Principals, the country now needs to provide a competent Irish workforce and education and training must start in the classroom.

Writing recently in the Irish Independent, Mr. Flanagan says that the Irish workforce needs to adapt to meet the ever-changing needs of the ICT sector. He states that there are many job opportunities available and that the next step, to ensure that there will be competent Irish graduates available, is to make ICT a Leaving Cert subject.

A recent Forfas report predicts that there will be a rise of 5% each year in the tech sector in Ireland for the next four years at least. This means that there will be 44,000 vacancies.

Mr. Flanagan suggests that putting coding on the Leaving Cert will put Ireland in the same league as the UK system, which will soon be introducing coding as an obligatory subject in all state schools.

Coding is a universal language used in all nationalities, which makes in an important contribution to the current digital era. However, there are challenges as to how it can be included on the Leaving Cert. Due to the need for highly trained teachers and high tech equipment; it would not be cheap to do.

According to Mr. Flanagan, this is not a reason to avoid teaching it. He recommends its introduction should begin as soon as possible if Ireland is to make the students of the 21st century ready to meet the technological demands of the future.

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Choosing a Springboard Course

springboard coursesRuairí Quinn, the Minister for Education and Skills, and Ciarán Cannon T.D., have recently announced that 6,100 new free higher education places are to be made available, through Springboard, to jobseekers in Ireland.

Springboard provides places for jobseekers on a range of part-time courses that lead to awards at certificate, degree and postgraduate level. Most courses last one year or less. The courses are generally free to jobseekers and specifically target areas where there are job opportunities.

This year Springboard has offered a choice of 171 free courses in 38 different colleges around the country. 21 of the courses on offer are in the area of ICT and are aimed at giving people who may have trained in another area, a chance to learn the skills needed to work in the growing ICT sector.

Speaking about the decision, Mr. Quinn said that the biggest challenge facing Ireland is getting people back into employment, which is what the Springboard programme aims to do. He said that work placements are being offered this year on nearly all Springboard courses in an effort to improve jobseekers’ employment prospects.

The Minister said that the programme is targeting areas of growth such as high end manufacturing, ICT and international financial services, as those areas currently offer the best job opportunities and have a potential for growth.

Since its establishment in 2011, 16, 429 jobseekers have participated in the Springboard programme which received a €54 million investment from the Exchequer. The Government plan on spending a further €25 million on it in 2014/15.

Ciarán Cannon said that one of Springboard’s core features has been the evaluation of the outcomes, such as how people get on in their chosen course and whether they get a job on its completion. Minister Cannon said he was happy that the results showed 94% of participants would recommend it to other job seekers and that more than 50% of the class of 2013 were in sustainable employment or self-employed within six months of finishing their course, with some courses even reported an employment rate of 90%.

The Higher Education Authority has put together a trend analysis to coincide with the announcement. It shows that the majority of applicants are male, between the age of 25 and 39, long-term unemployed and have higher levels of educational qualifications year on year.

The results also showed that more than 6 out of 10 participants complete their course and of those who leave the course early; a third do so due to getting a job.

Applications for Springboard course can be made online at Applicants are required to register with the website and enter a online application form. To search for a course simply click the ‘Search Courses’ button on the website’s homepage. Application deadlines are typically in August or early September but vary for each course. Dates are clearly stated on each individual course description page.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Are Internships Exploiting Graduates?

are internships exploiting graduates?A recent report by the Sunday Business Post has shown that graduates’ salaries are the lowest they have been in the last ten years. Between 2007 and 2014 the average salary has decreased by 11.7%, dropping from €26,919 to €23,777.

Joe O’Connor, president of the Union of Students in Ireland, has said that the findings, complied by the Central Bank for their report titled ‘On the Slide: Salary Scales for New Graduates”, highlight the frustrating situation that many students are finding themselves in at the moment.

O’Connor criticised Ireland’s current “Internship Culture” and said that young people who are leaving college with good degrees expecting to be treated as an full member of the workforce are instead having to go through an internship that pays low wages.

O’Connor said that internships, coupled with high levels of youth unemployment after the recession, have created an employer friendly market that is not fair on qualified students. According to O’Connor, government backed internships such as JobBridge are damaging pay and conditions in the job market and reducing wages.

JobBridge is a scheme that provides work experience for interns for a six or nine month period for an allowance of €50 a week on top of existing social welfare entitlement. It provides up to 8,500 work experience placements, however, O’Connor feels that schemes such as this have contributed to the current ten year low in graduate pay.

According to the report findings, architecture was worst hit; with a reduction of 31% in wages, reducing the average wage from €31,500 in 2007 to just €21,448 this year.

O’Connor said that an area where there might be great opportunities now, may offer few jobs in the future due to the pace of change internationally in the jobs market. He also stated that third level education is as important now for getting a job as second level education was years ago. This has been demonstrated by the fact that 50,000 third level graduates filled the 58,000 jobs that were created in 2013.

The study also found that Arts graduate’s salaries have dropped by 19%, with a decrease from €24,445 in 2007 to €19,747 in 2014. Veterinary and medical students have also seen a drop of 11% and while researchers said that wages have also decreased in other countries including France and Britain, they have not dropped to the same extent as here in Ireland.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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ETB Changeover Suffers Setbacks

education and training boardsIn July 2013, 33 Voluntary Educational Committees (VECs) were replaced by 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs). An ETB is an education authority responsible for education and training, youth work and a range of other issues related to creating a suitably skilled workforce.

The main functions of an ETB are:
– To establish and maintain recognised schools, education training facilities and centres for education
-To plan for and provide education and training that includes education and training for the purpose of employment
-To support youth work services

The sixteen ETBs are:
– City of Dublin ETB
– Donegal ETB
– Kerry ETB
– Cork ETB
– Galway and Roscommon ETB
– Limerick and Clare ETB
– Cavan and Monaghan ETB
– Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB
– Kildare and Wicklow ETB
– Kilkenny and Carlow ETB
– Laois and Offaly ETB
– Longford and Westmeath ETB
– Louth and Meath ETB

While the official changeover took place last year, progress has been slow and many of the ETBS do not yet have a website. There have been problems with the changover process with some workers in the ETB’s taking industrial action over failures to reach agreement on transfer of services from FAS to the new further education and training authority; Solas. This action followed the lack of a cohesive planning structure from management dealing with issues such as, filling of vacancies, workloads, and the absorption of Solas staff and structures. The action will lead to delays in further progression of the Education and Training Boards. Discussing the action, IMPACT official Pat Bolger said that “The union remains available to negotiate, but we now need management to move on these important issues”.

With increased responsibility, compared to the previous VECs, and a decrease in the amount of centres; the country awaits to see if the 16 ETBs can complete the difficult metamorphosis and fulfil the needs of Ireland’s knowledge based economy with the provision of an effective, fully functioning education system.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Should Leaving Cert Students Have More Access to Technology?

computers used for leaving certThe Minister for State Training and Skills, Ciaran Cannon, has said that Leaving Certificate students should be given the option to use a computer when sitting their exams. Mr. Cannon said that there is no flexibility in the current system, which he feels is doing a disservice to those students who feel more comfortable on a computer.

The junior minister for education is currently developing a five-year strategy on digital learning and teaching and said that while Ireland has developed examination software for overseas markets, he would like to see that being used here as part of the Junior Cycle reform.

Speaking at the recent Excited festival of digital learning in Dublin, hosted by Mr. Cannon, Dr. Aoibheann Gibbons, director of research development in UCD, said that promoting digital learning and then having students write for three hours in an exam was a contradiction. Dr. Gibbons said that writing for that amount of time was not psychologically or physically natural and that it was asking students to think in a linear way which is unlike how they think when using a computer.

A recent study carried out in the UK by BIC stationery company, showed that 39% of students fear that their handwriting will be illegible to examiners. It also showed that students worry about this more than they worry about forgetting information on the day. The study also revealed that two thirds of teachers marking exams have found poor handwriting has prevented them giving marks a student would have deserved had their handwriting been clear.

82% of the teachers surveyed admitted that they were concerned students are losing traditional skills due to an increased reliance on technology. 89% of students said that they use a laptop or computer to revise and 20% said that they use a tablet device. Over half of the students surveyed said they felt that taking notes using a pen and paper was outdated.

Handwriting expert, Margaret White, says that lack of practice can mean problems when it comes to writing on the day of exams. Bad habits such as holding the pen too tightly or leaning to heavily on the paper means that many students complain of aches and pains in their hands and arms after exams.

However, while two thirds of students said that they used laptops for revision, 85% admitted to getting distracted by the internet, with 58% of people citing social media as the biggest distraction.

Mr. Cannon’s digital learning strategy will emphasis new technology as well as teacher training and he said that these would require a significant investment which will allow future students a chance to succeed. It remains to be seen if keypads will replace pen and paper during exam time but in future this may be a logical route to take for the tech savvy youths of tomorrow.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Rising Rents to Affect Dublin Students

student accomodation ratesFour Dublin colleges have confirmed that they will be increasing their rent for the 2014/2015 academic year. Trinity College, UCD, DCU and Griffith College all provide on-campus accommodation and have said that their new fees are in keeping with current private rental sector in the city.

The cost of renting accommodation in UCD will increase by nearly 13%. Where before, a year’s rent in one of the on-campus Belgrove apartments would have cost €4,470, it will now be €5,050 and in Roebuck Hill, also an on-campus residence, there will be an increase in rent from €5,540 to €6,260 per annum.

A UCD spokesman has said that fees had remained almost the same for the past four years, with an increase of 2% every year since 2012. The university said that an estate agent was commissioned to give them a report on the current rental market in order to help them find a suitable rent.

Griffith College Dublin has announced an increase 9% for their accommodation fees. The college said that the increase was essential in order for the college to cover the rising costs of running their accommodation, which is not exclusively for their own students but for students in any college in Dublin.

A spokeswoman for the college said that the college found it necessary to increase the rent for Griffith Halls of Residence due to the Government withdrawing previous tax incentives, which had been the basis on which the accommodation was built. The college also stated that they undertook research in the Dublin rental market and decided on an average weekly increase of €12. The fee includes rent, services and utilities, student councillor services, security staff, parking and access to facilities on campus such as the library and the gym.

Trinity College announced an expected increase of 4% in their rental fees and said that the rise will be in context with the general private rental costs of Dublin. DCU have also announced a rise of 3%, the first rise in prices in seven years. DCU’s on-campus postgraduate accommodation, as well as residences in College Park and Hampstead will see a 3% rise, while fees in Larkfield, will remain the same. DCU stated that the increase was necessary to facilitate refurbishment.

The rising cost of rents and the cuts to student grants is not a good combination and Joe O’Connor, President of the Union of Students Ireland, said that the increases coupled with the lack of options in the rental market is a nightmare for students. Mr. O’Connor also said that the students from outside of Dublin opting to commute due to the high cost of rent will suffer the most.

Mr. O’Connor said the union had to speak to the Department of Housing last year and that properties under Nama were suggested to help supply the demand. He also said that government intervention may be necessary to deal with the situation.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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