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500% increase in higher education courses offered to those with FETAC qualifications

28 January, 2013 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien, TD, has said the thousands of adult learners who benefit from PLC courses highlights the short-sightedness of the government’s decision to increase the pupil teacher ratio from 17:1 – 19:1 in the further education sector.

The Cork North Central TD was responding to information received from Education Minister Ruairi Quinn who in reply to a Parliamentary Question he tabled confirmed that the number of Higher Education places offered on the basis of a FETAC qualification has increased from 599 in 2001 to 3,065 in 2012.

He continued: “The decision to increase the pupil-leaving ratio in PLC and further education courses has caused teaching unions and advocacy groups considerable alarm because it represents a serious blow to adult learners.

“It is a cut that is impossible to justify as it fails to acknowledge the Irish education sector is not a one size fits all system and that PLC courses provide an important educational platform for learners as they advance to further studies in Institutes of Technology or Universities.

“The Leaving Cert examination is considered a minimum qualification in Ireland yet the majority of adults in this State do not have this certificate.

“The importance of the Further Education sector in general cannot be overstated and many learners who benefit from PLC courses are mature adults who are returning to formal education after a considerable period of time.

“This means they need specific supports to make the transition back to full-time education particularly in order to enhance their literacy and numeracy skills which are essential for their future employment prospects.

“Not only will the change in the PTR result in the loss of hundreds of teaching jobs, it will bring to an enforced end a number of specialised courses that are absolutely essential for the reskilling of adult learners through further education.

“It is a decision that greatly undermines one of the government’s key objectives which is to incentivise people into upskilling and retraining in order to enhance their employment prospects.”

Note to editors:
The PQ and reply to Deputy O’Brien’s question is as follows:

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in tabular form
the numbers of students, on a county basis, who progressed to higher education
courses as a result of qualifications gained from participating in post leaving
certificate courses in 2011/12..
- Jonathan O'Brien.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 22nd January, 2013.
Reference Number: 2669/13


Minister Ruairí Quinn

The PLC programme provides an integrated general education, vocational training
and work experience programme for young people who have completed their Leaving
Certificate and adults returning to education. The specific breakdown of
numbers progressing from PLC courses to higher education requested is not
available as the Higher Education Authority does not hold data on new entrants
by previous qualification.

Recent information from the CAO shows that the number of applicants that are
offered and accept a place based on presenting a FETAC qualification has
increased significantly from 599 in 2001 to 3,065 in 2012.

The Higher Education Links Scheme which links specific further education
qualifications to reserved places in higher education institutions is being
continuously developed to improve progression opportunities from further
education to higher education in forty universities, institutes of technology
and private colleges.

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