Cavan Institute: New Points System to enhance progression opportunities for PLC students

Cavan Institute, one of the leading Further Education and Training Colleges in the country continues to attract over 1,300 students from Cavan and the surrounding region annually.

Speaking during registration which is currently taking place, the Director of the Institute, Ms Ann Marie Lacey, reported high demands across all course areas reflecting a continuing confidence that students and their parents have in the Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) sector.

“While it has been reported nationally that points are down for many degree courses, the PLC route into higher education remains a very viable option for many students for a number of reasons” stated Ms Lacey.  “Many students are still unsure about their career path and the courses offered at Cavan Institute allows them both time and space to reflect on their chosen areas and at the same time gain valuable qualifications at Level 5 and Level 6 on the National Qualifications Framework”

The new points system introduced this year is expected to further enhance the wide range of progression opportunities that graduates from Cavan Institute will have.  Ms Lacey explained that the points system for graduates of PLC programmes has also changed.  The points gained on successful completion of a PLC programme for entry into Universities and Institutes of Technology can often be greater than points students already achieved in their Leaving Certificate according to Ms Lacey.

As a result of the change in the points system, the formula for calculating points gained after the completion of a PLC programme has also changed.  Each subject in a PLC programme is awarded a specific number of points depending on the subjects credit value.  Most subjects have a credit value of 15, but some may have credit values of 20 or indeed 30.  A weighting is applied to the results as follows: Distinction = 3.25, Merit = 2.16, Pass = 1.08.  A maximum of 8 subjects can be used to calculate the points gained.  So, for example, a student who gained 8 Distinctions with a credit value of 15 will be awarded points as follows:

8 X 3.25 X 15 = 390 points.  

Another example would be a student who received 5 Distinctions, 2 Merits and 1 Pass.  This students points are calculated as follows:

(5 X 3.25 X 15) + (2 X 2.16 X 15) + (1 X 1.08 X 15)  = 324.75 points.

As can be seen from the above examples, this system will have enormous benefits for PLC students who wish to progress to Higher Education.

Students who are considering their options at the moment should take into account that they can use these points from a PLC course as an alternative to repeating their Leaving Certificate, according to Ms Lacey.

Cavan Institute has experienced an unprecedented growth in recent years to its current position as the largest provider of Further Education courses in the region and the second largest College of Further Education in the country. 

The Institute Director also offers advice for students to think very carefully about their options. “There are many paths to their chosen career and they should take time to reflect on what they really want to study. Students should not panic, there is a route for every student regardless of their Leaving Certificate results and the CAO points race. Some students will exceed their expectations and others will be disappointed with their results. Some students will find their options restricted because of their subject choice. The ever changing points system has implications for all Leaving Certificate students. Many students and their parents will be faced with an offer of a course they may not be sure about. At this stage it is important to take the time to consider all options.”

Reflecting on the options available to students the Cavan Institute Director cautions students to take their time. “It is important that you are ready to take that next step, a year exploring a career you didn’t previously consider may help you decide regardless of the fact your points permits you to aim higher than you planned.” Ms Lacey also stressed that some students may receive an offer of a place on a course they hadn’t really considered. “On the CAO list with 10 choices some students may receive an offer of a course down their list and one that they aren’t really sure of – it is important  to seriously consider whether it is the course for you,” says the Cavan Institute Director.

“All courses at Cavan Institute offer an alternative route to a number of degrees, for example, science and music courses at Cavan Institute are linked with relevant degree programmes at NUI Maynooth while the business and computer courses are linked with similar courses in Athlone, Dundalk or Sligo Institutes of Technology. There is an established route for students who complete the Pre-Nursing course at Cavan Institute into Nursing degree programmes throughout Ireland and the UK while the Childcare and Social Care courses have well established links with degree programmes in Ireland and the UK.”

“It is also important to point out that while many students use a PLC programme as an alternative route to Higher Education, a substantial number of courses lead directly to employment.  In many cases, there have been close to 100% employment progression for students from courses such as Beauty Therapy, Hairdressing and Hospitality” stated Ms Lacey.

* A full list of courses on offer at Cavan institute is printed on Page 24 in this week's Longford Leader (Friday, September 1 edition)

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