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Huge variety of courses available for school leavers and adults




By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

There are over 200 colleges of Further Education (FE) nationwide which provide approximately 70,000 places on a huge variety of courses for school leavers and adults.

This year for the first time ever a link to these courses is available on the CAO website so that applicants are made aware of the broad range of training and education options available outside of CAO courses.

In recent years about one in four Leaving Cert candidates has opted to do a Post Leaving Cert course (PLC). These courses which result in QQI FET/FETAC awards are generally one or two years in duration and are accredited at Level 5 and 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications. It is possible to use these standalone qualifications to go directly into the work place after completing the course but there is an ever-increasing number of students using them to progress onto Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) annually by applying to CAO as a QQI FET/FETAC applicant. A quota of college places each year are reserved for QQI applicants in universities and institutes of technology (HEIs) which students can apply for on a competitive basis. This allows students to progress onto and complete undergraduate degrees at Level 7 and 8.

In 2021, 13,125 applicants to CAO presented a QQI FET/FETAC qualification from Further Education colleges and centres. It is likely that many of these applicants did not secure their chosen CAO courses directly from Leaving Cert because of not having the required points or entry requirements. Taking the FE route is another chance to access places in third level and if you have completed the Leaving Cert Applied Programme (LCA) it allows you to progress into higher education which is not possible directly from LCA.

Good reasons to choose FE courses

Missing out on your chosen CAO course because of points is not the only reason to apply for FE courses. If you are a school leaver who is unsure about what you want to do, a PLC offers the opportunity to try an area of interest out and gain work experience before jumping into a three or four year degree. It also prepares you very well for progressing onto studying that subject area in more detail giving you a great foundation for further study. Second level education has been impacted hugely during the pandemic so you may feel that you are not ready for the move onto university or an institute of technology. FE colleges are similar in size to school so getting to grips with independent learning and living while developing confidence as well as key skills in communications, IT, referencing and research in that type of supportive environment makes the transition to third level easier. Figures show that the drop-out rates in higher education are lower among students who have completed a FE course first. Accommodation is also a huge problem for students so if you would like another year of living at home you will find lots of options within easy travelling distance.

Applying to colleges of Further Education

Applications are now open for autumn 2022 and entry is not based on Leaving Cert points. It is possible to apply throughout the summer, but it is advisable to apply early, as popular courses fill quickly. Begin by exploring the full list of options nationwide on You can also use the course search facility on and For the latest information on the QQI FET/FETAC links to higher education courses and entry requirements for CAO courses if you plan to progress into HEIs, check out the relevant section of

You can apply on or on individual college websites, where you will find the entry requirements for each course. To explore options locally see who are hosting an Open Week from March 22 to 24. Email for more information and to book your place.

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant. For details see



Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes



Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.


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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate



By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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