Reaching the top by the private route
All very well, you may be thinking: but what about the financial cost? Students at private colleges are ineligible for free fees, which is a major stumbling block for many. But as O’Beirne notes, “free” in the context of third-level education is a moveable feast, and the public sector isn’t quite as gentle on the wallet as it first appears.
“Obviously fees are the big decider – or not. Some people pick here because they’d prefer a small university. Our fees are €5,200, but there’s tax relief on that after the first €2,000. So the gap is closing, when you consider the registration fee in State universities is now around the €3,000 mark.”
Regardless of how good any institution is on an academic level, the importance of the social aspect can’t be underestimated: if you’re going to spend years and a great deal of money and effort in one place, you’ll want to make sure it’s a fun place to be. On this issue, private colleges feel they are shoulder to shoulder with any public institution. “We are in the culture capital,” says O’Beirne. “There’s a very vibrant social scene. We’re slap bang in the middle of the city centre – there’s so much to do. Personal development is an important part of third level; it’s not just about the academics.”
Dylan Madden BA Photographic Media at Griffith College
DYLAN MADDEN has just graduated from the BA in photographic media in Griffith College. He was voted news photographer of the year at the student media awards last year.
When I left school I went straight into a job working in a photography studio. I built up a lot of experience there and in other photography and design-related jobs before deciding to go travelling. I spent some time travelling around Australia and south east Asia and when I got back, I found that when I was applying for jobs, I’d have the necessary skills, but not having a qualification was a problem.
Going to do a degree was something I had always thought about and I figured it would make my life easier jobs-wise to have that piece of paper. Obviously I needed to pay the bills so I had no choice but to work full-time. That was what brought me to Griffith College. I was able to study for my degree in the evenings while still holding down my job. There wasn’t any entry exam. I just applied and then found I was tested as I went along. It’s definitely not a course for someone who sees photography as a hobby. It’s for people who are looking at it as a career.
Working and studying was very tough. You fall into a routine quickly enough but it wasn’t easy. Third year in particular was really stressful but I got a lot of help from the lecturers. I just worked very, very hard and focused on what I wanted to do.
At the moment, I’m working to pay off what I owe. I got a loan from the credit union for my fees and some equipment so I need to get that cleared. The long-term goal is photo journalism or something like that. We’ll see what happens.
Lorna Duffy Marketing and Event Management at Dublin Business School
LORNA DUFFY is 22 years old. She is going into her second year of a degree in marketing and event management in DBS.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do after the Leaving Cert. I was offered a photography course but I just wasn’t sure whether it was for me. I decided to go travelling for a while to see whether things would become a bit clearer.