When summer is over, seaside towns have more to offer than ice-cream cones and candy floss, and the Victorian seaside town of Dún Laoghaire is no exception. In the quiet end, bordering on leafy Monkstown, a restrained revolution is playing out in a modest building on Cumberland Street.
The warriors are students and teachers carrying the banner for that educational sector that does not receive the same media attention as other educational sectors; extraordinary when you think that it is Further Education colleges like DFEi that are very real channels into third level institutions for school leavers who are disappointed with their Leaving Certificate results, and mature students who are looking to improve their prospects. It’s what a casual observer would call a win, win situation in the educational stakes.
So, let’s dust off our imaginary satchels and go inside the building where we will be met by a veritable ant colony – stairs and corridors filled with students of all ages and from diverse backgrounds, each focused on their own very personal mission.
The short-term mission might be getting a seat in the canteen; the longer term one will, of course, be getting a place in a third level college or finding employment; but students always work better on a full stomach, so, while the queue for the canteen moves at its own pace let’s take a quick tour of DFEi.
IIf you are lost, Kieran at reception will point you in the right direction, so don’t hesitate to ask him. Perhaps you would like to see the Learning Centre, and why not? It is a very bright and attractive space, specifically designed as a study hub replete with banks of computers. It is also on this corridor that you will get that recognisable smell of newly sawn wood. If you dream of designing and making your own furniture, or making and repairing musical instruments, this is where you need to fulfil that dream.
Or perhaps you look at the bigger picture – the buildings that house the furniture and the musical instruments. If this is the case, you need to look at DFEi’s Architectural Technology & Design or Construction & Engineering Technology courses.
It may seem insincere to say that STEM is a ‘no brainer’ but when you think about it, it’s true. Courses related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics have proven to be reliable and sustainable routes to gainful employment. DFEi’s Pre-University Science courses in Laboratory Techniques and Food Science & Nutrition are the perfect first steps to a STEM career.
Indeed, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs has identified a dearth of graduates to fill available scientific jobs. If you are more attracted to the binary than the organic, a bit ‘nerdy’ perhaps, or a fan of the IT Crowd, you need to check out DFEi’s Computing & Electronic Technology or Software Development courses.
These courses are supported by FIT (Fast Track into IT); a unique IT led initiative giving students the opportunity gain the skills that lead to employment. It’s true then; STEM is a ‘no brainer’.
‘Front of house’ roles
Of course, while the STEM people are beavering away in the background, other personality types like to be ‘front of house’, or managing situations. If you fall into this category you should consider DFEI’s courses in Marketing & Event Management, Business Studies with Law, or Police & Security Studies.
If your desired theatre of action falls into the medical sphere, DFEi’s Community & Social Care course will get you started on the path that will enable you to work with dementia sufferers, or people with disabilities, mental health or social issues.
If your heart is set on the nursing profession, you need to consider DFEi’s very popular Nursing Studies course. The success rates from this course are very high for progression to third level nursing degree programmes in Ireland and the UK.
Some people are attracted to the unconditional love of animals; and where would the world be without domestic pets, farm animals and wildlife? Delivered by practicing professionals, DFEi’s Animal Health Care courses boast state of the art facilities and provide regular field trips.
On occasion, you might be surprised by a preponderance of dogs around the building; probably a clue that the animal grooming class has gone ‘live’ or the canine obedience class needs willing woofters. You will be relieved to learn that the large farm animals do not stalk the corridors of DFEi but are instead receive visits from the animal care students.
The doings of humans, animals, and machines make for an interconnected machine in a complex world; a world that needs to be interpreted, entertained, investigated, and reported on. We’ve got it all covered at DFEi with courses in TV & Digital Film, Digital Radio Production, Journalism for the Digital Age, Sound Production, and Music Production. The Higher National Diploma in Music Production is taught by working professionals.
On each of these courses you will use industry standard equipment and software. You can do your own recording in the sound studio, broadcast your own show in the radio studio, or edit your own programme in the TV studio. Why not tune in to 107.8fm and listen to DFEi’s very own radio station, The Wave? You will find an archive of accomplished documentaries.
Of course, nothing goes unnoticed by journalists, and the journalism students in DFEi are given every opportunity to report on the doings of the humans, animals and machines that make for that interconnected machine in a complex world. Having visited the Criminal Courts of Justice and listened to the evidence in a murder trial, sat in on a Dail debate, or grappled with the spectres of Brexit and Trump, the journalism students have plenty to write about.
The academic life of DFEi is punctuated by a vibrant calendar of social events showcasing the talents of the students. If you like an audience, there’s a captive one in DFEi. Sound Production students compose their own material to audition for the annual college album release.
The skills of the Event Management, Office Administration and Security students are always sought for college events. Gigs, concerts, and talent shows are enjoyed by both students and staff, usually in the canteen, also known as The Hub, which as well as providing hot food, is equipped with a stage, sound booth and acoustic panelling.
Ladder to a third level
DFEi’s courses are designed to meet current industry standards. Students are taught the fundamental skills and survival techniques that will put them on the ladder to a third level qualification.
You will be taught how to present work in written and oral format. You will be taught basic research skills, referencing systems, and general academic conventions across all courses. Experience at DFEi has taught us that every student does not learn in the same way or at the same pace. If you have particular learning support requirements, they will be met at DFEii.
A tried and tested way
DFEi’s quality assured courses are open to anyone who is seeking the knowledge, skills and competencies to enhance their employment opportunities or educational progression. If you did not get enough points for your chosen third level course, consider spending a year in DFEi.
It’s another tried and tested way to get a place in college, as incidentally, is our legendary Arts, Culture & History course – an excellent foundation for pursuing an arts degree in NUI. With subjects like archaeology, folklore and local history, this course is perfect for those of you who want to use your fascination with the past to propel your academic career forward. The formula is simple – eight QQI Level 5 or Level 6 modules with as many distinctions as you can get. But it takes work on your part. You need to come to class, complete assignments on time and prepare for exams. The teachers are there for you every step of the way if you are there for them.