Further Education options are a wonderful part of Irelands’ educational landscape. PLC courses are one such option in the Further Education and Training Sector (FET). There are a huge variety of PLC courses which offer independent qualifications and can be very attractive to those who are not yet ready to commit to a four-year course.
These courses offer great progression links to higher education courses, apprenticeships and directly into employment. They provide opportunities for school leavers and learners of all ages to consolidate their learning in their area of specific interest.
PLC courses are one or two-year long programmes of classroom learning, combined with applied practical learning. Courses typically consist of eight modules and include a work placement as part of the programme. Students are assessed on the basis of assignments, research, placement and end of year exams. A full, searchable database of PLC courses is available here.
Many of these courses can be used as pre-apprenticeship courses, giving students a flavour of what they might continue to learn in an apprenticeship contract.
Most PLC courses are at Levels 5 and 6 and tend to be 1-2 years in duration.
Higher Education Links Scheme
The Higher Education Links Scheme offers students in PLC courses the opportunity to progress to higher education using their PLC award. Certain named PLC courses provide linking pathways to courses in higher education institutions. Applicants apply through the CAO and progression requires a full Level 5 or Level 6 Major Award, with at least 120 credits. Components (Minor Awards), or achievement of fewer than 120 credits, will not suffice for progression under the HELS. Find out more about the Higher Education Links Scheme here.
You can see which courses have QQI links on our CourseFinder.
How to Apply to a PLC Course
Applications to PLC programmes can be made directly to the college/host institution. PLC colleges hold open days and interviews throughout the year, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on our events calendar to see when these information days and interviews are taking place.
Courses normally start in September and it is advisable to apply to your chosen course as soon as possible. However, it is always worthwhile to enquire about vacancies early in the academic year as places may become available if students decide to accept CAO offers. For further information, it is best to contact the institution you are applying to directly.
Further Education and PLC Courses
Alternatives to the CAO