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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



Seven An Post staff retire

Seven well-known staff members at An Post Killarney celebrated retirement this week. The staff, Mary O’Sullivan, Joe Clifford, Paudie Cronin, Joe Coffey, Tom Ashe, Jerry McCarthy and Dan Murphy were […]




Seven well-known staff members at An Post Killarney celebrated retirement this week.

The staff, Mary O’Sullivan, Joe Clifford, Paudie Cronin, Joe Coffey, Tom Ashe, Jerry McCarthy and Dan Murphy were treated to an night of celebration and reminiscing by the South Kerry branch of the Communication Workers Union of Ireland.

The retirees, their families and colleagues enjoyed an evening at ‘The Panoramic’ the newly named restaurant upstairs at Killarney Racecourse.

Ollie Favier, of the Shire fame has taken over responsibility for operating the coffee shop / restaurant at the racecourse.

“A beautiful venue and apt that Ollie’s father Dan RIP from Glenflesk, was also a long serving postman in the community,” said John O’Shea, the Union Secretary An Post Killarney.

“The night included music with Derry Healy and Rosie Healy and was attended by up to 80 people, under the attentive guidance of Sales and Marketing Manager Emma O’Connor and Ollie’s right hand man, Colin Daly

“The event the food and the atmosphere was a great success and credit to all Ollie’s staff for being great hosts. “

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Watch Video: Primary School Students share knowledge from Coffee Cup Project



Killarney primary schools have joined the crusade against single use coffee cups this week by joining the Killarney Coffee Cup Project and declaring themselves single use coffee cup free. The Killarney Coffee Project is a community grassroots project aimed at eliminating single use coffee cups from Killarney town centre to protect Killarney National Park and the towns surroundings all in the name of conservation.

Alan Oliver, a local coffee shop owner, Lir Café, who is one of the participants of the project has said that he is “thrilled to see the project extend into the local schools. Teaching young people about why we should be moving away from a throw away culture is imperative to the continuous success of projects like this. Today’s young people are the future custodians of this town and so educating them on the importance of sustainability will ensure that Killarney and its National Park will be in safe hands for future generations.”

The schools involved in declaring themselves single use coffee cup free include Holycross Mercy, Gaelscoil Faithleann, Presentation Monastery, Glenflesk, Knocknanes, Coolick, Loreto, Lissivigeen and Tiernaboul. This follows on from the Killarney Coffee Cup Primary Schools Initiative which took place last November supported by Killarney Credit Union, the Kerry Biosphere, and the IKC3 project in MTU.

In November the 5th classes in the Killarney area were brought to Muckross School House and Killarney House for a 2-hour immersive environmental education experience around our connection to the Kerry Biosphere and citizen climate action. Here the students learned about our biosphere and how we as citizens and sustainable initiatives like the Killarney Coffee Cup Project can protect this Special Area of Conservation. Finally, they went outside to work with a park ranger, collecting acorns in leftover disposable compostable cups that the project had gathered from various businesses. They took these acorns back to their classrooms where they have planted and are caring for their oak tree. In 2024, these young oak tree seedlings will be planted back into the National Park.

The Killarney Coffee Cup Project is the 1st of its kind in the world, and it is something that belongs to all the citizens of the town. We all own this!

Want to hear from the future voices of our environment?

This week the Killarney Advertiser caught up with primary schoolers who have been busy learning all about protecting our amazing natural environment

Watch our video where the future eco-warriors share what they’ve learned about keeping our Killarney healthy and thriving! Here is to the next generation of environmental stewards!

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