My daughter narrowly missed out on her dream CAO course. Is there an alternative further education entry route?

There are more and more routes into degree programmes via post-Leaving Cert courses in further education colleges

My daughter wants to be a home economics teacher. She applied last year to St Angela’s College in Sligo but missed out by just 10 points in the CAO offers. She was thinking of repeating her Leaving Cert this year but took a job in a local hotel instead in Westport. A friend suggests that she explore access to St Angela’s through a post-Leaving Cert (PLC) route. Is this possible?

It is very tough to miss out on your dream course by such a small margin. I am glad to say, however, that there are more and more routes into degree programmes via further education colleges where CAO points are not an issue.

We’re all familiar with the CAO round one offers that issue to Leaving Cert students. What is less well known is that a few weeks beforehand – normally the first week in August – thousands of graduates of further education courses receive offers of places on university courses via the CAO. For more information on these alternative entry requirements, check out individual university course websites or the CAO.

In your daughter’s situation, I am happy to advise you that Mayo College of Further Education and Training in Castlebar has a link to study home economics in St Angela’s, Sligo. This link is part of the Access to Post-Primary Teaching (APT) project. It is designed to provide greater representation in teaching from under-represented socio-economic groups. There are seven places available annually for APT route applicants.


For students attending further education colleges nationwide who do not meet the eligibility requirements for the APT project, St Angela’s has created a new pathway for its home economics teacher education courses. Information is available directly from the college on this (

In relation to the APT project above, students need to meet a number of criteria. They must be a first-time entrant to higher education, be eligible for free fees, be in receipt of Susi maintenance grant or back to education allowance, enrol on an approved full-time level five course at Mayo College or the other partner colleges in any of the following courses: certificate in early learning and care; applied social studies; laboratory techniques; food science; education and training; general studies; community health services.

The applicant must achieve a level five major award, eight modules with a minimum of five distinctions in the academic year in which you apply for entry to St Angela’s. They must also complete all in-reach and outreach activities throughout the year, including: candidate application interviews; campus visits and on-site/virtual lectures at St Angela’s and your FE college; complete an academic writing assignment.

Once an applicant secures a place in St Angela’s through this APT route, there are a number of financial and academic supports available, including a €1,000 equipment bursary on entry and a €500 school placement grant for each year of study.