The PLC Option (Post Leaving Cert)

Now that the Leaving Cert is over, the CAO Change of Mind deadline (July 1st) looms on the horizon, and people have been asking about Post Leaving Certificate courses (PLC) and their place in higher level education.

Previously, people could be very dismissive of PLC courses but thankfully students now view PLC courses as a gateway course into college or to gain a relevant work qualification. In fact, some PLC’ers will have gotten a college place through the traditional CAO system but choose to do the PLC course first, gaining practical & academic experience about a course before committing to a 3 or 4 year degree.

PLC = Career

Many PLC courses qualify people for work, for example healthcare assistant, childcare assistant or nail technician.  Other courses help to prepare students for further study like pre-nursing courses or pre-engineering courses. With the high level of drop out in the first year of college, a PLC course is an excellent way of finding if a career is really for you.

Most, but not all PLC courses are delivered by the Education & Training Boards (ETB) – formally known as the VECs. Many of their one-year courses offer QQI accreditation at level 5. More advanced courses may offer QQI level 6, which can lead to further studies at third level.

Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI) was formally known as FETAC and it is the agency charged to develop, promote and maintain the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

For Adults

PLC courses are not just for school leavers. They are a route for adults to return to education or to start to re-train for a new career. The sheer array of courses available is staggering. One that caught my eye was called Literacy through Driver Theory. Imagine not being able to take your driving test because your literacy skills were holding you back. Doing this course would help with both!  I know people who did a PLC course to learn a new hobby and ended up turning it into a new career!

PLC courses are widely available and tend to be a very cost-effective method of study. A modest contribution per year is charged but this is waived if  you

  • hold a full medical card in your own right
  • are the dependent child of a full medical card holder
  • qualify for a student grant
  • are getting Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) or a Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) allowance


Colleges offering PLC courses may also have a course charge to cover expenses such as books, student services, professional registration fees and exam fees. The amount varies from college to college. Students who are exempted from the participant contribution will still have to pay the course charge. PLC courses are considered for means tested maintenance grants under SUSI.

So whether you want to start or go back into the workforce, change career, find out whether a course is for you or are determined to get a qualification even if you didn’t get enough points in the leaving cert, PLC courses really have a lot to offer! While taking the PLC route to college may mean it takes longer to gain a degree ultimately the final qualification is the exact same.

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