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Education Progression Routes – Moving from Further Education to Higher Education

If you have any questions about progressing from further education to higher education, you can chat online to a trained Youth Information Officer or leave us a message and we can get back to you.

Qualification Levels

In Ireland, qualifications (QQI) are on a scale from Level 1 to 10 of a National Framework of Qualifications (NQF) – The higher the number, the higher the qualification.

In the image below you will see that the Junior Certificate is Level 3, the Leaving Cert is Level 4 and as you move along the arch, you can see Degree is Level 7 or 8, heading towards to Level 10  (PHD!)

QQI Level 5 & Level 6 are usually done in a College of Further Education. QQI Level 7 – 10 are normally done in IT or Universities.

Ladder of Progression

The ladder system of progression is where add-on qualifications are used to build up from a level 5/ 6 all the way onto Level 8 honours degree and further!

Did you know

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) e.g. ITs & Universities, offer preferential entry to students who successfully complete a QQI Level 6 (sometimes 5) Awards. Competition for these places are separate from all other applicants.

To find out which Higher Education Courses accepts your Level 6 course, you can check the college website or use the Careersportal Higher Ed. links tool to find the CAO courses that are offer progression opportunities to students with a Further Education (QQI level 5/6) Award. Remember, it is the course code of your course, rather than the course name, that you use.

CareersPortal.ie website is a great place to start:

  1. CareersPortal.ie Guide to PLC Progressions routes CareersPortal.ie has produced a Comprehensive Guide & Video on progression to Higher Education from a PLC course.
  2. CareersPortal Higher Ed. links  Use this tool to find CAO courses that are available to students with a Further Education (PLC) Award.
  3. Careersportal Calculations Tool Use this tool to calculate if you have got enough credits from your course to put towards applying to a Level 7 or 8 Course.

Funding your progression through education

SUSI grant

You must be increasing (progressing) your QQI level to be considered eligible for a grant (e.g. from QQI level 6 to a level 7 or 8)

You must be attending an approved course that –

  • leads to a higher level of qualification than any you may already hold,
  • is at a higher level than any course you may have previously attended,
  • is progressing from one year to the next and not repeating a year (save in exceptional circumstances)
  • full information from SUSI website

If you are not progressing, you may still be considered eligible for funding as a “second chance” student – it is well worth checking your own situation out, by contacting SUSI directly or we can help you do it.

Returning to Education Social Welfare payments (VTOS or BTEA)

If you are getting certain Social Welfare Payments and you wish to return to education, there are financial supports available to you.

Contact us or your local Intreo Centre and ask about the ‘return to education’ supports available – Make sure that you get a definitive answer from the local Intreo Centre, who make the decision on what you are eligible to apply for depending on your individual circumstances.

If you have been deemed eligible for a ‘Return to Education’ Social Welfare Payment – it is possible to continue to receive them as you progress through your qualification levels – once again, you should check this out in your local Intreo Centre

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