Further education has some superb options for those students who have just completed the Leaving Cert but haven’t got a CAO offer. All further education (FE) colleges are still taking enrolments and students can go on to any college website to apply online. In the City of Dublin Education Training Board (CDETB) area, Rathmines College has a long tradition in business, marketing, accounting, media, office administration, computer programming and English language courses. Rathmines College also has a very successful forty year history of running a repeat leaving certificate programme.
Classes are just getting started, so there is plenty of time to find a course.
Assessment and certification for FE courses are based on both assignment and project work during the year with some exams. For lots of students this is a more practical way of learning and is often a similar experience to that which is carried out while in employment.
Progression after finishing a Level 5 course can be sought through the CAO or for those who wish to do a second year and gain a Level 6, they can apply for advanced entry to second year of a degree programme. An example of this type of progression is offered by Rathmines College after completing a two-year level 6 advanced certificate in business, administration, software development or news and media. On successful completion students gain advanced entry to the second year of either a level 7 or 8 bachelor of business, computer science or news and media studies in a variety of colleges including NCI, IADT, DIT, ITB and ITT.
Rathmines College also runs a liberal arts access course where students can move to arts in UCD or Maynooth University.
For those who wish to go straight into the workforce Rathmines College also has employment orientated programmes in medical and legal administration, with almost guaranteed employment.
One noteworthy point to bear in mind is that someone wishing to get an accounting qualification does not have to do a business degree first. A primary degree is not a prerequisite for entry to professional accounting. Rathmines College students can take an ACCA diploma in accounting and business. After completing this programme and a research project, student get a BSc in accounting from Oxford Brooks University in the UK. There are also other options through the Accounting Technician of Ireland and the Certified Accounting Technician courses in Rathmines, which both provide access through the professional accounting route.
Rathmines College also offers the opportunity to repeat the leaving certificate. Some students find that the only way to progress their preferred choice is to redo the leaving certificate to get the required points. Rathmines College offers over twenty subject choices to around 130 students every year. This ensures that classes are small and the students gets the benefit of a more intimate classroom environment and access to the teacher. Approximately 85% of students improve their result and increase their points allowing them to progress to their chosen course in higher education. This is due to the dedicated team of highly experienced teachers supporting the students throughout the programme.
The fees in Rathmines College for FE courses are €460, or €210 with a medical card and for the Leaving Certificate course it is €300, or €173 with a medical card.
Speaking to Martin Keating past student of Rathmines College he tells us that after his Level 5 he finished with seven distinctions and three merits and was delighted with his success. For him, it was very different from any previous experiences of learning. He quickly grew in confidence and self-belief. He decided to stay in Rathmines College to do a level 6 higher national diploma in business. “I loved my experience in Rathmines College and it really prepared me for the academic world in higher education.”
After Rathmines, Keating went to IT Tallaght to complete an honours degree in marketing and through advanced entry went into the third year of a four-year degree. From there, he did a teaching diploma and is now teaching at Rathmines College.
“Further education can be a great stepping stone into college, or a worthwhile education in its own right. It is considerably more affordable than third level and the class sizes are much smaller, giving every student good quality time with the teachers. It equipped me with the skills I need and allowed me to develop into a better learner and subsequently teacher” he says.