Increasing number of Dunboyne College students accessing high points courses

An increasing number of Dunboyne College of Further Education (DCFE) students are accessing degrees programme requiring over 500 points with their results from the PLC college instead of relying on their Leaving Certificate, new figures show.

Over 90 per cent of eligible students who applied via the CAO in 2022 received an offer based on their QQI results and not their Leaving Certificate points according to principal, Denis Leonard. Some 416 DCFE graduates were offered places on Level 8 honours degrees with 273 receiving Level 7 offers.

Among the offers to DCFE graduates in 2022 were places on DCU’s Athletic Therapy and Training and Commerce in UCD for which Leaving Certificate students would have to achieve 554 points to receive a Round 1 offer. Offers were also made for in Psychologyin Maynooth University which requires 530 Leaving Certificate points.

DCFE students also received offers for Accounting and Finance in DCU (529 Leaving Certificate points), Home Economics and Biology with Teacher Education in St Angela’s College, (509 points) and Psychology in UCD (564 points).

TU Dublin offered places to DCFE graduates on Clinical Measurement Science (520 points) and Optometry (555 points) while Trinity College made offers on BESS Business Economics & Social Studies (576 points) and Biological and Biomedical Sciences (578 points).

It has also been particular strong year for Dunboyne Pre-Nursing students, according to Denis Leonard.

“The number of places for QQI Pre-Nursing applicants is very low in comparison to other courses but this year we saw some universities offer all their QQI places to our students with 80 per cent of all QQI places for general nursing in UCD offered to DCFE graduates. In other universities where there were specialised nursing courses all the places were offered to our students.”

The majority of DCFE graduates apply to and accept offers from universities and colleges in the Dunboyne catchment area, according to Mr Leonard, with TU Dublin making 270 offers across Level 8 and Level 7 courses to Dunboyne students and Maynooth University offering 87 places. Other Dublin based universities attracted Dunboyne students DCU offering 58 places, followed closely by UCD with 54 offers and 21 offers from Trinity College.

While the majority of the offers and subsequent acceptances reflected the geographical location of Meath’s only Further Education College other universities and colleges from Carlow to Cork, Letterkenny to Limerick, Sligo to the new South East Technology University in Waterford and across to Galway, were well represented in the figures.

The DCFE principal says their progression figures clearly support the move by Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education to allow students start their third level experience in further education.

“Universities are increasing the number of places for QQI graduates and our experience demonstrates that it is very possible to progress from Level 5 to a Level 8 degrees. We have been working closely with Irish universities including Maynooth and TU Dublin to open up opportunities for our students to get to where they want to go.”

The DCFE principal accepts that not every student knows what they want to study when they complete secondary school. “Nor should we expect them to,” he says.

“By opting for the further education route they can explore their options and use it to progress. It is not all about the high points or the CAO courses. Overall third level dropout rates for students who do a QQI course before entering university are less than three per cent.”

But Mr Leonard acknowledges that the statistics do not tell the full story. “The progression to UK colleges is not captured and the profile of the courses we offer means that about 50 per cent of our graduates complete pre-employment programmes.

Graduates of these courses are in very high demand by employers in areas like childcare, health care, business, hairdressing, beauty therapy, and professional cookery. In fact, we can not meet the demand for graduates in some sectors.

“It really points to the fact there are plenty of options available for all students.”