Dunboyne College graduates reach new heights in university offers

Over 90% of eligible students who apply to the CAO from Dunboyne College of Further Education (DCFE) received an offer for a Level 7 or 8 course in Institutes of Technology or Universities. That is the findings of an analysis undertaken by the college of the progression pathways of its 2021 graduates. 

Commenting on the figures DCFE Principal Denis Leonard says: “In a year interrupted considerably by Covid restrictions it is heartening to see so many of our graduates doing so well. In 2021 Dunboyne College graduates reached new heights with three hundred and fifty-one (351) students getting honours degree Level 8 offers and 209 receiving Level 7 ordinary degree offers.  

“Many received third level offers at both levels with a total of four hundred and six (406) receiving at least one offer. These offers do not include offers made to mature students and those who received offers via the UK UCAS system.”  

Local universities still most popular

Universities within the catchment area of Dunboyne are still the most popular with Maynooth University, TU Dublin-Blanchardstown, and DCU attracting a large number of DCFE graduates. 

Maynooth University offered 115 Dunboyne College graduates places on Level 8 courses. Sixty seven (67) students were offered First Arts, ten (10) were offered Law, five (5) were offered Social Science, seven (7) Science, four (4) computer science, two (2) psychology, three (3) were offered places in the BA in Early Childhood Studies and thirteen (13) progressed onto a variety of Level 8 Marketing and Business degrees.  

Across the TUD Dublin campuses comprising of DIT, IT Blanchardstown and Tallaght IT there were a total of sixty (60) offers at level 8 and one hundred and twenty six (126) at level 7, with the bulk being in Social Care, Business, various Computer courses, Pharmacy, Tourism, Sports Management and Coaching.

DCU made thirty nine (39) offers to DCFE graduates with seven (7) offered places on the BSc in Nursing Studies. This was followed closely by 21 offers from UCD (including 8 for various science courses). Trinity College offered 12 DCFE graduates places on courses including Law, Business, Economics and Social Science (BESS) and Business course. 

Wide variety of offers

Those who decided to travel widely to get their Level 8 degree course included 8 to NUI Galway, 4 to University of Limerick, and 2 to University College Cork. Five students were also offered places by the National College of Ireland.

Other IT college offers include: 22 from Dundalk Institute of Technology, 31 by Athlone Institute of Technology, 6 from Waterford Institute of Technology, 8 by Letterkenny Institute of Technology, as well as 10 from Tralee Institute of Technology, 7 from Institute of Technology Sligo and 12 between Institute of Technology Carlow and Carlow College.  Some DCFE graduates received offers from private colleges on the CAO with 28 offers from Dublin Business School in 2021 and 5 by Griffith College.  

In the Art and Design sector 9 DCFE graduates received offers from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and while the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (Dun Laoghaire) made 5 offers to DCFE graduates.

Graduates across the country & hidden progression

Mr Leonard believes that many students chose Dunboyne College because of long tradition of Pre-University courses and established links with local universities. 

“From the establishment of the college in 2003 we developed close links with Maynooth and TU Dublin but these figures show the rapid growth of our progression routes as Dunboyne College is now represented in nearly every third level college in the country from Dublin to Dundalk, Athlone to Galway, Waterford to Letterkenny, Limerick to Cork, Carlow to Tralee. DCFE offers several courses specifically aimed at preparing students for progression via the CAO including Pre-Arts, Pre-Law, Pre-University Science, Pre-University Teaching, Nursing, Business, Psychology, Law, Criminology, Computer Science and Technology.”

Stressing that the figure do not reflect the true picture the Dunboyne College Principal points to the large number of graduates who opted to continue their studies in the UK. 

“Many of our Pre-Nursing students and those in specialised healthcare courses occupational therapy, physiotherapy, pharmacy accept offers from UK universities.” 

Flexible approach encourages success

Mr Leonard believes that the high number progressing is due to the approach adopted by the college. 

“The flexible options in Dunboyne allow students to sample various modules in September to make sure they are pursuing the correct course choice. A one-year QQI level 5 course is an ideal way to explore an area of interest as well as using it to access a third level option. 

“Students often do far better at further education level as they are now studying in an area of their passion and aptitude like nursing, sports, childcare, science or cookery rather than in the Leaving Certificate where Irish, English and Maths etc. are compulsory. By focusing on an area of study as well as gaining experience in a work setting, it allows students to see if they are pursuing the correct option before embarking on a four-year degree course or entering a career.” 

Higher degree of success in university

The Dunboyne College Principal also points to the skills that students learn on a Further Education course as a factor in their continued success. 

“Students on Further Education courses also learn referencing, research and self-directed learning which means they tend to be able to complete subsequent Level 7 or 8 degree courses. Dropout rates on level 7 & 8 courses for students who do a level 5 QQI course are less than 3% compared to up to 10% in universities and up to 33% on some IT  courses for those who enter straight from their Leaving Cert. 

“A student with a FET qualification has a 25% better chance of completing a Level 8 Degree.” 

Mr Leonard referred to comments by Andrew Brownlee of Solas at a recent DCU Further Education event. The Solas Chief Executive stated that students under 300 points have a 50 percent chance of finishing a HE degree but for those who go through an FET course first that improves to 75 percent.

The Dunboyne College Principal believes that a FET course should not be viewed an extra year. “It is a year to explore what you really want to do, and a passport to make sure that it is possible. It gives students that confidence and the skills to embrace and continue on the road of lifelong learning. The evidence is very clear from the class of 2021.”  

Employment Success 

The other story not told in the figures is the number of Dunboyne graduates taking up direct employment according to Mr Leonard. 

“Many of our graduates currently proceed directly to employment as the skills achieved at QQI level 5 and 6 are much sought after by industries in this region. Many students do not require a degree for their chosen profession. At the moment we are finding that employers in all sectors but especially health and childcare, technology and the service industry including hairdressing, beauty therapy and hospitality are taking our students on placement with a view to offering them a full-time position on completion of their course.”

All courses in Dunboyne College include a mandatory work placement which its principal believes prepares its students to take up employment immediately on graduation. 

“Nearly all of those in those vocational areas received an offer of employment straight out of Dunboyne College, many from their work experience employer.”

Applying via CAO for places in Dunboyne College

Dunboyne College of Further Education has now over 1,000 students enrolled on QQI level 5 and 6 courses. Many of these courses are now listed on the Further Education section of the CAO website including nursing.

All applications for course in Dunboyne College will continue to be made directly to the college though students will be able to access the application system from the CAO website or the college’s own website.

The Dunboyne College Principal believes this will help students see all the options. 

“This is a welcome move for both students and their parents/guardians and career guidance counsellors. It is very hard to navigate the myriad of options available to students and this will help them see all the options across all sectors.”

Increased demand

With the move to include Further Educations options via the CAO website the Dunboyne Principal believes there will be increased demand for places in 2022. “Demand for places is increasing with over 2,500 students applying for 1,000 places for 2021 entry and we expect that to continue as we develop new courses so we are advising students to apply early.”

Applications are now open with Information Evenings planned for Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th January 2021 where students can visit get first-hand information on each course and career guidance advise on the options available. Interviews are scheduled on Friday 24th January, Friday 11th March, and Wednesday 4th May.  Late interviews will be held in June and September.

New Pre-University courses in Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Science, Law and Politics, and Politics, Economics and Social Science are planned for 2022 along with a course in Auctioneering and Estate Agency. With the introduction of new courses in Occupational Therapy, Software Development and Games Design, and Animal Science in 2021 and the expansion of level 6 programmes there are now over 60 courses on offer at Dunboyne College.

FET College of the Future status 

Further change is on the cards for the FE sector and Dunboyne College according to the Dunboyne College Principal. 

“We are the only dedicated PLC further education college in County Meath and the surrounding areas, the college is working towards FET College of the Future status which will eventually see progression courses, pre-employment vocational offerings, apprenticeships, traineeships and many upskilling courses for employees on one campus. This will be emphasised in our new Strategic Plan due for launch in 2022.”