There is more than one route from school to university

Galway daily news Almost 3,500 Galway students receiving Leaving Cert results

The established route from school to university is not a ‘one size fits all’ model.

That’s the message to students today from Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority.

He said that the impact of Covid-19 has been ‘immeasurable’ on all sectors of society, but despite COVID-19, one thing has remained consistent this year: the annual scramble for Leaving Cert students to ‘figure out their next step’.

“This year brings the added pressure and the complication of trying to map out a future alongside Covid-19,” said Andrew Brownlee.

“Following the publication of Leaving Cert results today, SOLAS is encouraging students, and their parents, to look at their options and to realise there are  diverse opportunities open to them as well as  the  traditional route of entry to higher education directly from school.”

He added that post-secondary education is not a ‘one size fits all’ model and that further education and training can offer students many benefits, such as smaller class sizes, learning on-the-job apprenticeships, and traineeships.

“After such a difficult and overwhelming year, I would encourage this years’ cohort of Leaving Certs to look at all the options available to them.”

FET Benefits

The benefits of further education and training (FET) highlighted by SOLAS include the following:

  • PLC courses can provide a foundation for students in specific sectors before they commit to completing an undergraduate course. Examples include Pre-University Law and Pre-University Science.
  • Recent research has shown that having a foundation in FET helps the chances of getting your degree if you move into higher education. We also know that 1 in 5 of the current intake in institutes of technology and technological universities come from FET, with more and more people recognising the value of this FET-HE pathway.
  • Many universities, colleges and Institutes of Technology have programmes in place to recognise FET qualifications as a route to entry. If a student completes a PLC programme with good results and meets specific criteria, they have a good chance of securing a place on a third-level course.
  • FET courses and programmes are available in every county in Ireland, delivered through 16 Education and Training Boards nationwide.
  • Apprenticeships are now available in a wide variety of areas, including international financial services, recruitment, auctioneering, engineering, hospitality and insurance practice, with more set to be announced within the coming months.
  • Another option for school leavers is to undertake a Traineeship. Traineeships typically take from six to twenty months full-time to complete. They provide occupation-specific training and integrate formal classroom training and workplace coaching with a host employer. Courses facilitate those entering the labour market for the first time and persons wishing to up-date or acquire new skills.

Mr. Brownlee added: “Leaving Cert results time is stressful for both students and parents

“Often, there is huge pressure on young people to have their education and career path mapped out, and unexpected Leaving Cert results can seem like a catastrophe and a dead end for these plans.

“With the added pressure of Covid-19 uncertainties, we’re encouraging students and parents to explore all their options – the CAO is not the only route to take.”

For further information on FET opportunities, visit or contact your local Education and Training Board.