Skip to content

Get Started - Things to know

This is where you can find some useful information to help you make the first step back into education. If you have any questions about the information below, call us on freephone

1800 303 669

You don’t always need the Leaving Certificate to go to college! 

You can do a QQI Level 5 course instead of the Leaving Certificate. A lot of people do QQI Level 5 Courses (used to be called PLC's) and then do a university courses or get a job. Level 5 courses are the same as the Leaving Cert and are run at your local Education and Training Board (ETB) Further Education College. You don't need a Leaving Cert to get a place on a Level 5 course. There are Further Education colleges across Ireland that offer similar courses, you can search by key word and area on the Further Education and Training Course HubHave a read of Kayla's Learning Story to see how this all works.

What is Further Education and Training (FET)?

Further Education and Training has courses in loads of different areas for anyone over 16. FET includes apprenticeships, traineeships, QQI Level 5 courses (used to be called Post Leaving Cert Courses- PLC's), community and adult education as well as training in reading and writing. FET courses and programmes are run through the Education and Training Board network all over the country as well as through other local providers including online through SOLAS’ eCollege. 

What is the Education and Training Board (ETB)?

There are 16 ETB's in Ireland. They run education and training courses in your local area. For example if you want to become a carpenter or plumber you do an apprenticeship with your local ETB training centre. Also, if you want to go to university or get a new job you can do a QQI Level 4,5 or 6 course at your local ETB Further Education college or training centre.

What is Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)?

QQI are the people who give your certificates at the end of the course. This means that the course you are doing is good quality and the qualification is valuable recognised by universities and employers. Have a look at the chart below- you can see here that QQI Level 5 is the same as the Leaving Cert. Higher Education means university.


QQI Level Chart showing levelw 1 to 10. Levels 1 to 6 are Further Education and 7 to 10 are university level education. It shows that level 4 and 5 are the same as the leaving cert.


Back to top