Higher Education Links Scheme

hels schemeProgression Routes into Higher Education
The Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS) gives 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.

Programmes leading to Level 5 and Level 6 Major Awards are available through providers who have programmes validated with QQI. Application to participate in the programme is made directly to the provider.

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 caluclated and the results are forwarded to the CAO in July of each year.

You can calculate your score using the free online points calculator at www.careersportal.ie/qqi/, 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

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Business Courses

business trainingThe business studies field can be a bit of a maze, with a huge selection of courses to choose from. The choices can range from business startup on to business administration or if choosing specialist topics these can vary from business with a language or business with art or one of several other specialist areas. As business is a subject that easily pairs with nearly every other discipline, there are many more variations than in most other courses.

Two things that you should keep in mind when deciding on a business course are how much time you can dedicate to the course and what level you want to study at. The large range of courses on offer is a bonus in this case as there are courses to suit all schedules and levels.

Courses based on online business and marketing are very popular at the moment but nearly all regular business and commerce courses cover this area so it is good to have a detailed look at the course content for each option when making a decision. Details of courses are always found on the college websites and the majority of universities, colleges, private colleges and IT’s offer business training courses.

The field of entrepreneurship and innovation is another popular area, with many courses featuring modules on topics such as developing and managing early businesses. Courses that have experienced lecturers and well developed tuition in this area are important, as are opportunities for work experience and real world assignments.

Part time and evening business courses including business management and start your own business courses can be viewed on Findacourse.ie at the following link.. https://www.findacourse.ie/business-accounting-courses-c3-0-1.html

All further education colleges offer business training courses in some shape or form and these can be a great starting point for those entering third-level education or the field of business studies for the first time. Most of the level 5 and level 6 courses allow for progression to higher education and can often be structured to suit students with family commitments or in employment.

Some examples of level 5 and level 6 business courses on offer are:
Business Administration with MOS level 6 at St. Louis Community School, Mayo.
Business and Computers Level 6 in Stillorgan College of Further Education
Tourism with Business Levels 5 & 6 in Moate Business College
Business Management in Portobello Institute, Dublin.

There are many higher certificate level 7 business training courses on offer around the country also. A level 7 qualification is a step below an honours degree and can be convenient for those who want to up skill without the commitment of the three to four year degree programme. Level 7 qualifications can generally be easily converted to full honours degrees.

Some examples of level 7 courses on offer are:
HETAC Bachelor of Business level 7 (part time) in Dorset College Dublin
Higher Certificate in Business in Office Information Systems in the Institute of Technology Tralee
Higher Certificate in Business in Social Media Marketing in Athlone Institute of Technology
BA (Ordinary) in Business in Griffith College Dublin

A level 8 degree is an honours degree and as well as the traditional courses that take three or four years to complete, there are also many top-up options, part-time courses and accelerated courses that are suitable for those looking to combine work with study.

Examples of level 8 business courses are:
Bachelor of Business (Honours) in Entrepreneurship and Management in Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology
Business Studies in Griffith College, Cork City
Bachelor of Business Studies from the Institute of Public Administration – (This course can be completed part time by distance learning)

Postgraduate, or level 9 and level 10 courses, are for those who have completed a level 8 degree, however, not necessarily in business. There are many level 9 converter courses available alongside the large selection of full and part-time postgraduate courses and MBA programmes.

Some examples of post-graduate business courses are:
Postgraduate Diploma in Business in Cultural Event Management in Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology
Specialist Diploma in Supply Chain Management with Ulearning in Limerick City

For more Business Studies course options view the Business and Accounting course page on Findacourse.ie

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Erasmus Plus Programme

erasmusThe Erasmus Programme, set up in 1987 by the European Union, is the most successful student exchange programme in the world and operates in 37 countries. Another Erasmus Programme was established in 2007 and ran until the end of 2013. During that time, 30,000 Irish students travelled to one of the 37 countries and now it’s predicted that by 2020 up to 50,000 will have had the opportunity to study abroad as part of the new programme.

Erasmus Plus took over from the older Erasmus programme on 1st January 2014. A 40% budget increase was amongst the changes which were geared at giving students a chance to increase their skills and knowledge through studying and working abroad. The programme is available to third level students, students in secondary school, further education and adult education as well as youth organisations and charities.

Gerry O’ Sullivan, Head of International Programmes at the Higher Education Authority (the national agency for Erasmus+ in Higher Education), says that students who have been involved in the programme have experienced many benefits such as personal development, greater focus, increased cultural awareness and improved language skills. In the new programme students will be able to do a traineeship in two months instead of three, which is the current programmes minimum, and new students will also be allowed to do a traineeship in the year following graduation which is a first for the programme.

The top five countries of choice for Irish students are France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden but there are many other destinations to choose from. The main bonus of partaking in Erasmus is that students don’t have to pay any extra fees to the college that they choose to visit. Students are also able to apply for an Erasmus grant if they need help in covering the cost of living abroad and students with a disability can apply for additional grant to cover any expenses that occur.

Studying abroad with the Erasmus Programme is a brilliant opportunity to get a taste for what it’s like to live in a different country, to absorb a different culture, to immerse yourself in a different language and to meet new people. To be able to do all this with no additional tuition fees is an experience not to be missed.  To have been involved in work or study in another country is a great addition to a CV, especially if you are studying a language, politics or International Relations, but everyone can benefit from travel and a broader education.

Leargas is the national agency for Erasmus+ in Adult Education, School Education, VET and Youth. They operate a number of Erasmus workshops and discovery days. To view more information about Erasmus Plus with Leargas, view their website at www.leargas.ie

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HEA Nursing Fact Sheet Published

nursing courses facts and figures reportA recent publication by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has shown some interesting data on nursing trends and statistics in recent years. The ‘Nursing Fact Sheet’ looks at the student profile of those studying or graduating in nursing from Irish higher education institutions.

The vast majority of Irish graduates with nursing degrees (96%) remain in Ireland for work immediately after graduation, according to the study. The statistics also show that 90% of those studying nursing are female. About 1,800 students will commence studying nursing at undergraduate or postgraduate level this month.

Some of the key findings are listed below..

  • Overall nursing new entrants decreased by 6% between 2011/12 and 2015/16 but while full-time undergraduate nursing enrolments decreased by 3%, enrolments in postgraduate nursing courses increased by 43%. This reflects a small but growing shift to nursing as a postgrad programme.
  • 20% of nursing students come from Dublin while 9% have Cork addresses.
  • 48% of Irish nursing new entrants were in receipt of a SUSI grant in 2015/16 (compared to 46% of all Irish new entrants in the same year)
  • 90% of nursing new entrants are female
  • 4% of nursing new entrants are non-Irish
  • Of the 2015 nursing graduate cohort, 94% are in employment nine months after graduation
  • 98% of nursing graduates employed in Ireland are working in Health Services
  • 71% of undergraduate nursing graduates are earning between €25,000 and €45,000 (compared to 50% of all graduates), 28% are earning less than €25,000 (compared to 47% of all graduates) and 1% are earning €45,000 or more (compared to 3% of all graduates)
  • 44% of male postgraduate nursing graduate are earning €45,000 or more compared to 41% of females in the same cohort
  • The vast majority of Irish nursing graduates are remaining in Ireland for work (96%) compared to 88% of non-Irish Nursing graduates.

nursing courses facts and figures from HEA

Higher Education Institutes offering nursing courses include; DCU, NUIG, TCD, UCC, UCD, UL, St Angela’s, Athlone IT, Dundalk IT, Galway-Mayo IT, IT Tralee, Letterkenny IT and Waterford IT.

Use the following link to view the full report online – http://hea.ie/resources/publications/hea-nursing-fact-sheet/

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Types of Distance Learning and Online Education

online courses and e-learning options in IrelandDistance learning as we know it today has significantly developed from the foundations of correspondence learning; In the past students would receive course materials including textbooks and other course materials through the mail. These course materials and textbooks allowed for complete independent learning at their own pace.

Many correspondence courses have stood the test of time and the encroachment of technology; however, they have largely been replaced by online courses, which offer instruction and support from tutors, a multimedia educational experience and interaction with other students via various forums. Thanks to technology, the shift from the traditional classroom experience to online or distance learning only seems natural.

Distance education and online learning is a field of education which uses specific tutoring and technology, with the aim of delivering course material, often on an individual basis, to students who are not physically present in a traditional educational setting such as a classroom. Distance education courses that also require a physical on-site presence for any reason (including taking examinations) have been referred to as hybrid or blended courses of study.

Aside from the range of distance learning courses on offer, there are also variations in the format and the way the courses are delivered and accessed. The format depends on the purpose of the online course. It is important to know which type of distance learning course you are taking, so you can understand the time, technology and even the travel requirements that could be expected of you.

The types of distance learning courses fall under the categories of either synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous literally means ‘at the same time’, while asynchronous means ‘not at the same time’.

Synchronous distance learning involves live communication either through sitting in an on-line classroom, or chatting online. Asynchronous distance learning sometimes has a set of weekly deadlines, but otherwise allows students to work at their own pace. Synchronous learning is less flexible and disrupts the student’s life to a greater extent. It is, however, the most popular format used by university online learning departments, as it facilitates a greater amount of interaction between students and tutors, especially if working towards a degree or masters programme.

Those courses that weigh more heavily on projects and assignments thrive in an asynchronous format because they provide the students with more time to focus on their work. With open schedule online courses, students are allotted the greatest amount of freedom. This is an asynchronous form of learning in which students are provided internet-based textbooks, mailing lists, email addresses, to complete their coursework.

Blended distance learning courses combine synchronous and asynchronous learning which creates a structure in which the student is often required to meet at a specific time in a classroom or Internet chat room along with working online independently.
Some distance learning colleges provide students with round the clock access to eLearning for the duration of the course. The student is usually given a comprehensive course manual, along with access to numerous online resources along with being assigned a personal tutor. Assessments are usually uploaded online and feedback follows promptly.

There is no need to feel isolated in your distance learning studies as there are many supports available to you from the provider. With easy access to tutors, questions or queries can be submitted and answered very easily with the online system. There are often also open forums where other peoples’ questions and answers can be viewed and therefore can be used as a reference for others. Many offer a record of your progress throughout you studies or track your progress for you, which you can see every time you log on.

Aside from private distance learning providers, some Higher Education Institutes offer distance learning via their Adult & Continuing Education departments or have their own Centres for Distance Learning. These courses often require you to meet with your tutor and other students occasionally for workshops and tutorials. In most cases, you receive a set of self-paced, self-instructional learning materials. Learning materials are broken into modules, which you study on your own. These programmes of study can lead to various awards including: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Business and Masters Awards. They also offer additional supports including: the opportunity to study in groups, return to-study skills modules along with a day-to-day advisory and support service.

Regardless of the types of distance learning courses; what they all have in common is a proven track record of success for learners along with excellent employment prospects.

View distance learning course listings on Findacourse.ie

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CAO Second Round Offers and Other Options

third level studentsFor many students, a college place will await them after the first round of offers from the CAO. For others there may be some disappointment, perhaps the course offered on the first round is cause for uncertainty or downright refusal. If so there is always the second round to follow and this sees many new options arising for those questioning the suitability of the first round.

Second Round Offers

Second round offers are made just over a week after the first round (This year they go out on 31st August), with the closing date for acceptance of these offers on September 6th. If options are still failing to arise, there are still some other options available to students..

Available / Vacant Places

The CAO vacant places list is updated daily following the first round of offers. This list can be viewed on the CAO website (www.cao.ie). If going this route, students need to examine the course options and career opportunities carefully and try not to make a snap decision out of fear of not making it to college. More details of the CAO Vacant Places option can be viewed on the video below (video guide provided by www.cao.ie).

Repeating the Leaving Cert

For some students this will be the best option, many students (this author included) have enjoyed a much happier and less stressful leaving cert year the second time around. The hard graft has hopefully been done to a large extent so with motivation and planning it should be possible to see better results second time around. It’s a good idea to view some of your exam scripts from last year to see where you went wrong (although normally viewed with the hope of appealing exam results, this can be a successful tool for improving future results also – Viewing dates are August 28th and 29th). If the core subjects have been passed there is also the possibility of taking up a new subject to pick up points. If choosing this option, try to select a subject with some crossover with past subjects (for example Biology will have crossover content with Home Economics).

Post Leaving Cert Courses (PLCs)

Many places will be filled for the more popular PLC courses at this stage, however it’s worth checking out if you’re preferred study area was not offered via CAO. Many PLC colleges offer viable progression routes onto third level and many of the courses will offer career options without need for further study. This will also be a good option if you wish to try out a certain area of study before continuing on with it full time through the CAO.

Click Here to View PLC Feature on Findacourse.ie

Mature Students

There are lots of options available for those with youth on their side. Should third level study not be available right now then it could easily be again in the future. Many students enter the CAO with some years work experience or other suitable study achievements behind them. Even if lacking the required points now, students who have passed their leaving cert may return as mature students and use this work experience or study to gain entry in the future. For more information on mature entry, view the video below (video guide provided by www.cao.ie).

and remember if you still can’t decide what’s best for you, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Guidance counsellors are there for a reason and can be of assistance in choosing the correct path. For more info contact your local school or ETB or view www.guidanceireland.com to find a local guidance counsellor.

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CAO Vacant Places

CAO Vacant places (also called Available Places) is a facility which enables students to apply for CAO places on courses that are not yet filled. After round one offers have been made a continuously updated list of courses with available places can be found on the CAO website – cao.ie. More details about applying for vacant or available places can be viewed on the video below (video created by cao.ie)

Applicants who have already registered with the CAO may make an application for a vacant place at no extra cost. Applicants who have not yet registered with the CAO may apply for vacant places for a fee of €40. All applicants must meet the minimum entry requirements for the course they are applying to, they will then be ranked on points in comparison to other vacant places applicants.

More information about vacant (available places) can be found at the following link – https://www.cao.ie/apply.php?page=vpl_enter

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CPD Courses

cpd coursesCPD or, Continuous Professional Development, refers to lifelong learning or continuing education. It is the means by which people advance their skills and knowledge related to their professions. In today’s competitive and rapidly changing world, taking part in a CPD course can be essential to ensure continued employment and career advancement.

Most professions have CPD obligations and as a result, there is large a variety of courses available around the country covering all career fields, from engineering to teaching. A new website running in partnership with Findacourse.ie is now online and will promote CPD courses on an ongoing basis. Log onto CPDcourses.ie for more details

The following are just some of the CPD course providers on Findacourse.ie that can help to enhance a CV and improve career progression options:

Griffin College provides a course in Commercial Lighting. Members of Engineers Ireland qualify for CPD credit on completion of this 5 week part-time evening course. Locations are Cork City, Dublin city centre, Galway city, Kilkenny, Limerick City, Belfast City and Londonderry.

Portobello Institute offers a course in Environmental Impact Assessment in Dublin City Centre. This part-time evening course is for managers, to improve and audit environmental performance. Members of Engineers Ireland, The Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and the Institute of Archaeologists Ireland are eligible for CPD accreditation on completion.

– Portobello Institute also provides a REPS Fitness Instructor Level 2 course which is accredited by the European Health and Fitness Association. Students are eligible for CPD credits on completion and the course is an essential requirement onto the level 3 Personal Trainer course.

Pitman Training offer a wide range of courses in the areas of IT, business and accounting, management and professional development. Courses can be completed on a flexible learning basis.

Hibernia College is Ireland’s only government-accredited eLearning college. It offers a selection of CPD courses for teaching professionals such as summer courses and professional development courses in areas such as special education and numeracy and literacy. There are also courses on offer for professionals in the pharmaceutical and bioscience industries.

IPASS (Irish Payroll Association) is Ireland’s leading training provider for those seeking to upskill or reskill in the areas of payroll, VAT and taxation. The association offers training courses in many locations around Ireland.

These are just some of the options on offer for CPD courses. For more information on job training and professional development, view job training courses on Findacourse.ie at https://www.findacourse.ie/job-training-courses-ireland.html

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Sales Training Courses

sales training coursesDo you have the ‘gift of the gab’? Perhaps you are the persuasive sort that can convince your friends that trekking through the Antarctic would be great fun. If so then a career in sales could be for you. Being a strong sales person will always be in demand. The top people have a deep understanding of their products, know how to relate to their customers and – in all probability – have that charming sales patter down to a fine art. As fans of The Apprentice will know, Alan Sugar simply can’t get enough of people who can swap products for cash, and he’s not the only one.

We often hear about ‘born salespeople’. It’s certainly true that there’s a particular, outgoing personality that’s a key requirement when it comes to doing the job well, but that’s not to say that sales technique isn’t a skill you can develop and improve. That’s where sales training – both on a business-wide and individual level – can become a key factor in the success of a company and of an individual. After all if you can bring in significantly more than the company pays you, your boss will be your biggest fan.

Courses are varied, both in price and cost, and picking the correct one is a case of matching your needs or the company’s needs to the specific content on offer. Many industries have their own specialised training courses, and while these may be a little more expensive, the precise skills learnt along the way could prove very helpful for those with more targeted ambitions. Colleges such as Griffin College in Dublin and CMI College for example, offer a range of training programmes, with Griffin College offering a course focused specifically on the development of telephone sales skills..
sales training in Ireland
Course content will vary depending on who you go with, but should involve plenty of theoretical study, tips and – where possible – hands on practice of the techniques that you learn. Content will usually contain most of the obvious dimensions of selling – the sales process, how to close a sale, discussion of price and how to deal with factors that influence the customer, for example – but many also delve deeper into other, related areas. Psychology, in particular, is often cited as an important part of sales training. How to make additional sales on top of the main ones and controlling the consultation process are also common additional features, with others dependent very much on the area you wish to focus on.

Other courses are more long term and even offer work experience and higher-level qualifications along the way. Of course, they’ll also require a more significant time commitment, sometimes as much as a year’s part-time study. There is also the option of online training options for those who prefer to study in their own time and at their own location.

With so many people and companies already involved in sales, there are plenty of options out there for both individual and corporate training, and we recommend shopping around and finding out about the courses specific content before you head along. After all, they can be costly, and given the variety, you can probably find a course that’s very well suited. There are plenty that run in the evenings or at weekends, as well as during the working day. Why go to the effort? Even if you’re not a salesperson, there are very few jobs in the modern world that don’t involve and ability to sell yourself, your company and your skills at some stage along the way. It makes sense to do so to the best of your ability.

Sales training courses on Findacourse.ie – www.findacourse.ie/Sales-Training-courses-s15-84.html

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Student Housing Problems Continue in 2017

student housing 2017The latest Rental Price Report from Daft.ie shows just how difficult it is for students seeking accommodation for the approaching college term. The report shows a yearly increase of 11.8% in the asking price for rental accommodation (the fifth quarter in a row where rents nationally have increased by at least 10%).

Katie Ascough (President of UCD Students Union), describes in the report the shortages being experienced in the rental market; “There are now fewer than 3,000 properties to rent nationwide.This is the lowest figure on record for the country. In Dublin there were just 1,121 properties available to rent on August 1st. That’s over 20% less than were available on the same date in 2016.” Katie also highlights the knock-on effects of this chronic undersupply in the housing market; “In Dublin, where the lion’s share of new third level students will be looking, rents are now 18% higher than their previous peak. The average property in the capital now costs €1,741 a month to rent. That’s one and a half times the current average rent nationwide, €1,159.”

Kevin Keane (President of TCD Students Union) also shares his views in the Rental Report; “The situation is so bad that if it’s to be even partially resolved before September, it requires major collective action from a range of stakeholders. As an example of what that kind of initiative could look like, Students’ Unions from Trinity College Dublin & University College Dublin have started working together with Daft.ie to put more affordable, student specific beds on the market.”

Kevin also comments on the relatively low uptake of ‘digs’ due to negative stereotyping from both sides and the added expense of purpose built student accommodation; “Even the recent increase in purpose built student accommodation by private developers won’t alleviate pressure for the majority – as, on average in Dublin, students are spending €1,500 more in this type of housing than the average spend for what’s available in the general market. In this context, college authorities, students unions and Government need to promote college digs as a priority over the next few weeks to make sure Irish homeowners are informed of how they can contribute to solving this crisis and the cash flow gains to be made. Otherwise many young people coming from outside urban areas, who don’t live near a university and can’t shoulder the costs of a long, pricey commute, will have to defer their college courses this September.”

Some facts and figures from the report are shown below..

rent report

rental trends 2017

Full report available at https://www.daft.ie/report

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CAO Offers And Acceptance Process – Video Guide

cao offers and acceptance processThe Central Applications Office (CAO) have a helpful online video tutorial aimed at students who will receive CAO offers this August. The 4 minute video can be seen below and also on the student resources section of the CAO website.

The video gives step by step guidance on the offer and acceptance process. It also answers some common questions that arise during this time. Eileen Keleghan (CAO Communications Officer) has encouraged students to share this video with fellow applicants to help them get the most from the offers they may receive from the CAO. The guide explains what to do on receipt of an offer and also some advice if no CAO offer is received.

Successful applicants to the CAO can receive notification through a variety of media depending on what they have chosen on their application form these methods include SMS text, email and also by post (arriving a little later than the electronic methods). Round one offers should arrive on 22nd August with round 2 offers arriving 10 days later.

Applicants are encouraged to check the available place listings on the CAO website. Students may apply for these college placements provided that they meet the minimum requirements (other restrictions also apply).

For more information on CAO application and student resources, visit http://www.cao.ie/index.php?page=video&bb=studentresources

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Exam Helpline for Leaving Cert Students

As over 60,000 Leaving Certificate students prepare to get their Leaving Certificate results this week, a Free Examination Helpline is available for those who may need guidance or information about what comes next.

Hosted by the National Parents’ Council Post Primary (NPCpp), it will open on Wednesday, 16th August to offer support to Leaving Certificate students receiving their exam results.

The 1800 265 165 Freephone Helpline opens from 10 a.m. on results day, to take calls from students, parents and teachers seeking advice and information on what choices are available to students, and will continue until Wednesday, 23rd August (see Freephone operating hours below).

The Helpline is sponsored by the Irish Independent and Eir and is supported by the Department of Education and Skills. It is staffed by members of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors who are fully qualified experts in their field. A representative of the grant-awarding body, SUSI, will also be on hand to answer queries.

Every year the NPCpp Helpline deals with thousands of calls and helps students to make informed decisions. Those seeking advice, information or reassurance can contact the Helpline on 1800 265 165 and speak to experienced, professionally-trained guidance counsellors. All queries on third level courses, such as the points system, rechecks, repeats, CAO procedures, apprenticeships and further training options will be dealt with in a professional and confidential manner.

To complement the Freephone Exam 2017 Helpline, Independent.ie will be running an interactive CAO blog on Wednesday August 16th from 10am and on Monday August 21st from 8am, Members of the IGC will also be staffing this, answering all queries and concerns around the results and further and higher education and career options.

The opening hours of FREEPHONE HELPLINE 2017 are:
Wednesday, 16th August: 10 a.m – 7 p.m
Thursday, 17th August: 10 a.m – 7 p.m
Friday, 18th August: 10 a.m – 1 p.m
Monday, 21st August: 8 a.m – 7 p.m
Tuesday, 22nd August: 8 a.m – 7 p.m
Wednesday, 23rd August: 8 a.m – 1 p.m

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Alternatives to the CAO

alternatives to the CAOThe CAO is the dominant method of gaining entry to college in Ireland and it is based on a points system (Click here to view online points calculator). Each CAO course is assigned a number of points as the entry requirement. This model has received some criticism as it is based on a supply and demand system. When demand is high for limited places the minimum level of points required can rise. Unfortunately for some this can mean failure to secure a desired course placement even though aptitude for the course might be high. So what are the alternative options when the desired course is not available?

Many people opt to repeat the Leaving Certificate. This can be time consuming and there is no guarantee you will be able to increase your points next time around (although most people will increase them somewhat). It is an option probably best suited to those who really did not give it a good enough shot first time round and feel that they can do much better if they give it their full attention and dedication. If you really can’t face another year in secondary school then fear not, education is increasing in importance in modern Ireland and luckily this means there are wider choices for those wishing to pursue further education outside of the CAO system.

Post Leaving Certificate courses are a popular option for those alternating from the CAO system. They provide an internationally recognised qualification and are one to two years in duration. A pass Leaving Certificate is required but entry is not based on the points system. Instead applications are made directly to the course provider and an interview process will determine candidate suitability. PLC courses offer a very wide range of subject areas and there are currently over 1000 PLC courses available throughout the country. Some examples are Childcare, Business Studies, Fashion and Hairdressing. PLC courses are orientated toward practical employment skills and include practical work, academic work and work experience. Many of these courses offer the option of progression to University or Institutes of Technology. PLC courses in Nursing Studies can help you progress to a Nursing Degree and some Engineering PLC courses are linked to University programmes providing access for those who have insufficient points. View PLC courses on Findacourse.ie at www.findacourse.ie/further-education-plc-ireland.html

Solas is a government body which promotes education and training for all. The most popular Solas training programme is the Apprenticeship Scheme. Apprenticeships are particularly popular with men who wish to receive qualifications outside the CAO system. Apprenticeships are not only for men and Solas offers grants to encourage employers in recruiting female apprentices. Apprenticeships offer training for those wishing become Carpenters, Electricians, Plumbers and a variety of other types of craftsperson. Admittance is not based on Leaving Certificate performance but you must get a qualified craftsman to agree to train you. Apprenticeship schemes provide alternating periods of ‘on the job’ training and ‘off the job’ learning. Solas also provide training in other areas and it is a good idea to check out the options which are available.
apprenticeships in Ireland

Online courses are also a good way of gaining qualifications outside the CAO system. They do require a good level of personal motivation and it is important to thoroughly check the legitimacy of your qualification before paying any fees.

If you feel you need a more structured system, there are a number of private colleges who operate outside of the CAO system. An example of this type of college is Griffith College Dublin which offers a large number of courses not listed through the CAO. Instead courses must be applied to directly through the college itself. These courses do not operate on the points system but they do require the payment of fees which are usually upward of 5 thousand Euro per year.

If you would like to attend University but cannot presently afford it then a good way of getting around the points system is by applying as a mature student. A mature student is someone who is over 23 years of age so if planning to go this route a younger student might decide to work for a number of years and save money. This can be of particular benefit if work can be gained in the area of study that the student plans on pursuing further down the line. Many universities reserve a certain amount of places each year for mature students and although some colleges require applicants to apply through the CAO, entry is not based on points. Instead, it is based on CV, an interview and in some cases an aptitude test.

Yes, the CAO may be the dominant means of gaining further education in Ireland, but it is not the only way. The points system can cause a large amount of stress to Leaving Certificate students as they try to gain access to desired courses. Thankfully though, there are other options available. These options can have the benefits of offering employment options as well as helping gain entry to a wide variety of CAO courses further down the line. So, for those who don’t achieve the desired Leaving Cert results, why not consider an alternative route to your dream career.

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Apprenticeship Funding for Institutes of Technology

apprenticeship options in IrelandCapital funding of just over €8million has been announced for 10 Institutes of Technology. The funding will enable the institutions to purchase equipment and carry out enabling works for the implementation of new syllabi for four existing apprenticeships in Electrical, Heavy Vehicle Mechanics, Metal Fabrication and Plumbing. Funding is also being provided to purchase equipment and carry out enabling works for a new apprenticeship in Pipefitting in Cork Institute of Technology.

This funding is being provided by the Department of Education and Skills through the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

The apprenticeships will take the form of structured education programmes and training which will formally combine and alternate learning in the workplace with learning in a classroom setting. An apprenticeship prepares participants for a specific occupation and leads to a qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications. Since the 1970s it is estimated that over 105,000 apprentices have been trained in Ireland. In 2016 there were over 3,800 new apprenticeship registrations. There is a current population of 10,316 apprentices with 3,919 participating employers (December 2016).

The recently published Action Plan to expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship in Ireland sets out how state agencies, education and training providers and employers will work together to deliver on the Action Plan for Education’s commitments on the expansion of apprenticeship and traineeship in the period to 2020. The plan contains a commitment to enrol 31,000 people on apprenticeship programmes in the period 2016-2020 which represents a near doubling on current activity.

Announcing the funding, Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD said:

“This supports our objective to expand apprenticeships and traineeships in the period to 2020 and ensure they are an attractive path for people to take. We plan to more than double the number of annual Apprenticeship and Traineeship registrations to 14,000 by 2020.

“Apprenticeships and traineeships give an exciting career path for many young people. As well as modernising existing apprenticeships we are also focused on supporting the development of new programmes.”


To view more details about apprenticeship opportunities and information view www.apprenticeship.ie

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Child Psychology Courses

child psychologyThere are many branches of psychology to specialise in; child psychology is one of the most frequently studied specialty areas. Child Psychology focuses on the mind and behaviour of children from prenatal development through to adolescence. This area of psychology deals with the mental, emotional and social development of children. All strands of child psychology are distinct and different from adult psychology. Children are no longer seen as a different and smaller version of adults. Today, psychologists, recognise that child psychology is unique and complex.

When child psychologists look at the development of a child, they take into account, not only internal factors, like genetics and personal characteristics – but contextual factors like their environment, which includes: social relationships, their cultural world, along with their socio-economic context. For example: children raised in households with a high socio-economic status tend to have greater access to opportunities, while those from households with lower socio-economic status may have less access to such things as healthcare, quality nutrition and education. Such factors can have a major impact on child psychology. Contexts are also constantly interacting and a child psychologist will examine these interactions also.

A child psychologist’s ultimate task in not just to gather information that goes towards explaining a child’s existence, but to use that information to improve parenting, education, child care and psychotherapy. Some child psychologists use information gathered in the discipline of Child Psychology in a therapeutic/counselling setting. By having a solid understanding, how children grow, think, and behave; parents and professionals working with children can be better prepared to help the kids in their care. No matter what population a child psychologist chooses (whether toddlers or teens), his or her focus will be on helping understand, prevent, diagnose and treat developmental, cognitive, social and emotional issues.
Child Psychology Courses
If you are considering studying child psychology – expect to study the following topics:

  • Genetics
  • Environmental Influences
  • Prenatal Development
  • Social Growth
  • Personality Development
  • Language
  • Gender Roles
  • Cognitive Development
  • Sexual Development

The work a child psychologist undertakes depends upon where they work. Some professionals counsel young clients in therapeutic situations (as noted earlier), while others work in research to explore different aspects of child psychology including giftedness and development disabilities.

Career options could range from working as an adolescent psychologist, specialising with teenagers who suffer from psychological illness or distress including eating disorders, depression or anxiety to working as an educational psychologist, which involves the study of how people learn, including topics such as student outcomes, the instructional process, individual differences in learning, gifted learners and learning disabilities.

As a child psychologist, you must have a strong curiosity about a child’s behaviour and a desire to use your knowledge to help them. Those who choose to work with children must have the patience and skills to communicate with young clients who have not yet developed the cognitive or verbal capacity to express the problems that are causing them distress. This can make the process of diagnosing and treatment difficult and more prolonged. This work can be very demanding. You will need to be resilient and not become burdened by the problems you encounter.

Whether you want to become a Child Psychologist or simply want to develop an understanding of child psychology – there are many routes you can take.

There is no direct qualification leading to being a ‘Child Psychologist’. You either need to train as a clinical psychologist, then specialise in child psychology, or train in Educational Psychology to work with children in education. The first step to becoming a Psychologist in Ireland is to study for a primary degree at honours level in Psychology at University. There are psychology degree programmes available in most universities including: Dublin City University, Trinity College, NUIG and the University of Limerick, amongst others.

The BA in Psychology is accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland. For those who wish to become professional psychologists, it is important to remember that the undergraduate degree is only the first stage in professional training that will require an additional two to six years of study and supervised experience.

Queens University in Belfast offer graduates the opportunity to study: Educational Child & Adolescent Psychology.

NUI Galway offer graduates the opportunity to complete their Doctor of Psychological Science (DPsychSc) in Clinical Psychology. This is a taught doctoral programme that provides professional training in clinical psychology. The programme is provided in partnership with clinical psychology services in the Health Services Executive and other health service agencies. The overall objective of the programme is to produce competent and capable clinical psychologists for the Irish health service, through the provision of high quality training in the clinical, academic and research elements of clinical psychology. All trainees have placements in mental health settings working with both child and adult clients.

Child Psychology Courses (NON CAO):

The College of Management and IT (CMIT)
run a FETAC (LEVEL 6) Child Psychology course. This is a course is designed to provide the learner with an understanding of child psychology relevant to childhood education and care settings, and to equip the learner with the knowledge and skills required to understand child psychology from 4 to 18 years. The module leads to a Level 6 component award on the National Framework of Qualifications. This course is ideal for: teachers, childcare workers, youth workers, childcare supervisors and childcare managers.

Portobello Institute also run a Child Psychology course. The aim of this course is to introduce the student to the methods, language and practice of child psychology. It examines the core issues in relation to psychological development including language, thinking and socialisation, with particular focus on the emergence of the child as an individual.

A knowledge of child psychology is useful when working in any setting that involves children. Understanding their development stage and how a child’s contextual world might affect them emotionally and mentally – will go towards providing children with appropriate responses to their needs.

If you wish to pursue a full-time career as a child psychologist – expect both a demanding but rewarding career. Like most careers, but specifically when working with children, it is best to have a genuine interest in a child’s behaviour and well-being, rather than just an interest in the general area of study.

Click Here to View Childcare Courses on Findacourse.ie

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