A quiet revolution is taking place in Dun Laoghaire, and the revolutionaries are Further Education students, carving out their place in an education system that for too long a time did not give due recognition to Further Education.
This, however, is changing. Announcing an increased spend on the sector in March 2021, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris TD, called the funding “a signal of intent of the importance of this sector for my new Department and a sign of the focus we intend to place on further education”.
That increased focus is only one of many exciting developments. Trinity College Dublin has opened up many new progression pathways for FE students. Other colleges and universities are also developing pathways, and recognising the value of FE graduates in their lecture halls. These FE graduates, after all, are “significantly more likely” to complete their degree than students who come from Leaving Cert, according to research cited by SOLAS in 2020.
At the epicentre of these developments is Dun Laoghaire Further Education Institute, a buzzing hive of student life. One reason this College is much loved by staff and students alike is its diversity. Urban, rural, people of colour, white, gay, straight, young, older… all are equally welcomed and nurtured. Students who sat their Leaving Certificate through the private school system sit in class beside students who may not have completed secondary schooling or may be returning to education in middle age to follow their dream. Those who are neuro-diverse receive all the support they need.
While we pride ourselves on our students’ excellent results, our primary concern is not that students get ten distinctions, but that they feel respected, cared for and happy. From Kieran on reception – who will point you in the right direction if you are lost, and help you find the scarf you left in the canteen – to Principal Eoghan O’Murchadha, who travels the corridors to chat with students and let them know his door his open, warmth is palpable throughout the building.
In that same building you will find the Learning Centre, a bright and attractive space, specifically designed as a study hub, complete with a bank of computers. On the same floor, furniture and musical instruments are handmade by our incredibly talented students. Perhaps you would like to design furniture or maybe the building that houses the furniture? Then you should look at our Architectural Technology & Design or Construction & Engineering courses.
Full STEM Ahead
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses are a proven and sustainable route into employment and into Third Level institutions. Our Pre-University courses in Laboratory Techniques and Food Science are the perfect first steps to a STEM career.
Remember, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs has identified a shortage in the STEM graduates needed to take up the jobs that call for their skills. If you are more attracted to coding than chemistry, there is another side of STEM to explore, through our Computing & Electronic Technology or Software courses.
All these STEM courses are supported by FIT (Fast Track into IT), a unique IT-led initiative that enhances your prospects of translating the skills you learn to solid employment.
But don’t take our word for it, listen to one graduate, Caoimhe Fox: “The teachers at DFEi were amazing and I made good friends. I got into Science in UCD and I would like to specialise in Microbiology. The course was a great preparation for third level”.
Our Software Development course attracts the Jack Dorseys and Steve Wozniaks of the future. But no pressure: it also attracts those who just want to design some great games. One 2020 graduate, Rachel Ring, has been awarded the Google scholarship for women in Computer Science. We love to see graduates like Rachel challenging gender stereotypes in areas like this.
Your Future, Your Choice
Many school leavers, and even older students, come to us without a defined idea of where they would like to be in the future, and that is okay!
People are living and working longer, and the FE system resists the pressure to narrow down your choices while you are still at school. Our Pre-University courses are ideal if you need a year to sample different subject areas and consider your choices for a Higher Education course.
On our Pre-University Arts, Culture and History course, you will learn about archaeology, journalism, local history and European Studies. The course puts a focus on learning outside the four walls of the classroom. Students visit museums and archaeological sites, and unearth history through their own research. Our Pre-University Business and Law course is perfect if you see yourself directing a jury or directing your own enterprise.
Conor Barnes, now studying Business and Law at UCD, describes how DFEi helped him in his choice: “When I started in DFEi I had thought I would take the business and accountancy route at third level. In fact I found Law very interesting, so that’s what I chose”.
We Care a Lot
But it is not just bulls and bears you will find at DFEi. You will also meet some real four-legged folk wandering the building, showing off their haircuts to compete for our Instagram ‘Dog of the Week’ poll!
These coiffed pooches have been groomed by Animal Health Care students who put their unconditional love of animals to use and build themselves a career in pet grooming or veterinary nursing.
If it is the two-legged that you seek to care for, our Nursing Studies and Care Assistance courses are for you. Nursing Studies has a solid record of progression for students into Higher Education Nursing courses in Ireland and the UK.
A big plus of being a DFEi student is that you will be taught by people who have worked and studied in the area you are interested in. Our nursing teachers know what is like to work the wards, and in our state-of-the-art medical facilities they pass on their practical and theoretical expertise, and give you much useful advice about operating healthily in such a demanding profession. We do not want to impart only information; we also want to impart wisdom.
The comings and goings of humans, animals and machines make for a complex world, one which needs to be investigated, questioned and interpreted. If you would like to be the one to stand at the mic or have your voice heard through your writing, the Media courses at DFEi have got you covered.
Our courses in TV & Digital Film, Journalism and Sound Production are taught using the same facilities used by contemporary media. You will be encouraged and nurtured so you feel confident making your own podcast, submitting an article to a news site or performing your own songs for other students.
You’re a Star
The academic life of DFEi is punctuated by a vibrant calendar of social events which showcase our highly gifted students. DJ students often have our canteen on their feet at lunchtimes, when staff abandon the more sedate staffroom to join in the fun! But successful events do not organise themselves, and that is where our Business and Marketing students get to shine.
Through subjects like Marketing Practice and Event Production, they learn to work in teams and put together events that get media attention and run without a hitch. The canteen is equipped with a stage, soundbooth and acoustic panelling. A performance in this canteen could be the best free gig you will ever attend.
We believe wholeheartedly that every single student who comes through our doors has potential.
We do not doubt this for one moment, because we have seen so many students who have not reached their potential in previous education thriving in their DFEi course. This is what makes us tick!
But we never want to presume we are doing everything right, so we gather a band of student ambassadors each year to tell us what is going well for students and what extra support we could give.
We also have an active student council to represent the interests of the students and maybe plan a few nights out along the way. Listening to our students keeps us relevant and keeps us young.
If you want to go further and climb higher, visit our website or drop us a line.
Further Education is a sector that is going places. Let us take you with us.