Further Education colleges are increasingly vocal about what they offer and students, career guidance teachers, the media and wider society are sitting up and taking notice. With the Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, stating that there is too much emphasis on traditional educational pathways, attention has turned towards the Further Education sector and what alternatives this has to offer.
Direct access to the jobs market, apprenticeships and pre-university courses are three vastly different and vital pathways for students of all ages, and all three pathways have a proven track record from behind the front door of BFEI.
Take Psychology for example, a degree course that in an Irish University can command upwards of 500 Leaving Certificate points, making it almost unattainable for most students. BFEI have been running a Level 5 course in Psychology for over 15 years and this has facilitated many students to progress on to degree and masters level courses in DCU, UCD, SETU (Southeast Technological University), DLIADT, Maynooth to name but a few.
Two past pupils returned to BFEI recently to share their experiences of moving from Post Leaving Certificate to University:
Aundria Cameron a graduate of BFEI from 2019 has completed her BSc in Psychology from UCD and is currently undertaking a master’s in psychology there.
Aundria’s experience was that having attended BFEI provided her with a solid foundation in several key subjects such as statistics and psychology and gave her skills in practical things such as referencing and time management that provided her with a significant advantage over her fellow students.
Aundria is now a teaching assistant and tutor in UCD, works on various projects for Ana Liffey and volunteers in her spare time. She only had positive things to say about her time in BFEI and how it has helped her achieve her goals.
Rebecca Nolan a graduate of 2020 is in her final year of a psychology degree in SETU and has been offered a place in Napier University on their Masters in Forensics programme.
She is also the Chairperson of the Student Affairs Group of the Psychological Society of Ireland, a key role for the inclusion of the next generation of psychologists in the progression of the society at its helm.
Rebecca too sang the praises of the opportunities BFEI offered her when the Leaving Certificate exams did not go as planned – as is the case for many Leaving Certificate students every year. She found the subjects studied and the chance to network offered by her work experience placement during her time in BFEI, set her on the road to success.
BFEI has worked hard to develop similar access routes for students who wish to gain law degrees. Their Pre-University Law QQI Level 5 course, now in its sixth year, can boast of past pupils taking places in university law courses across the country from TCD to NUIG.
The Pre-University Arts and Social Studies programme aims to do the same for students who wish to become teachers, social workers or NGO employees but missed their CAO target.
These alternatives to the Leaving Certificate/CAO route are a valuable lifeline and pressure release valve for so many students and BFEI has many years’ experience in successfully delivering these courses and helping students achieve their goals.
BFEI entered the realm of apprenticeships in 2016 with the Accounting Technician Apprenticeship run in conjunction with Accounting Technicians Ireland.
Students will qualify after two years as an Accounting Technician with the opportunity to progress to a Level 9 course with Chartered Accountants Ireland. Students study one day a week in BFEI and work four days a week with employers who have included ESB, Grant Thornton, OSK and Revenue, earning a salary starting at €20,000. The symbiosis between the classroom and the workplace benefits the students greatly and is evident in their satisfaction with this method of learning.
Direct pathway to the workplace
Direct access to the workplace with courses as diverse as IT, Beauty and Body Therapy, Nails and Lashes and Over the Counter Pharmacy Assistant, has long been a feature of the success of BFEI.
The list of household names that have graduated from the beauty courses in BFEI include Suzanne Jackson, Jennifer Rock (The Skin Nerd), Rose Connolly, Michelle Regazzoli (Mrs Makeup) and Caolán Kelly (RTE Glow Up Ireland 2021 contestant).
Not to mention the many students that go directly into salons and pharmacies around the Greater Leinster area and abroad with the confidence of a widely recognised qualification in their chosen field under their belts.
If you wish to apply to any course in BFEI it is as simple as logging on to their website (www.BFEI.ie) and completing a free online application form.