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Sep 032009

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Across the country thousands of student’s who’ve just accepted their place on a college or university course are eagerly awaiting the start of the new academic year. It herald the beginning of a brand new chapter in their lives as they enter third level education.

While this is a very exciting milestone, it can also be a daunting one. In the early days of college it can be difficult to find your feet, to get your bearings on- and off- campus, get your head around a completely new way of learning and coping with non-academic changes like living away from home and fending for yourself — which can be an adventure in itself.

Luckily, colleges and universities are well aware of the challenges faced by new students. Third level learning institutions want students to feel at home as quickly as possible, and often go out of their way to show newcomers the ropes and help them to settle into college life. Most places will issue every new student with a welcome pack before they arrive on campus, full of all the information they’ll need for their first few weeks of term: things like a guide to registration, important dates on the academic calendar, relevant contact details, maps of the campus, answers to the most frequently asked student questions and much more besides. So before term even starts students have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with their new environment.

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Sep 032009

A dearth of jobs and apprenticeship opportunities in Ireland has seen demand for post leaving cert (PLC) level courses sky-rocket this year, leaving school-leavers and redundant workers fighting it out for limited college places.

Institutions have been inundated with requests for courses, receiving on average around twice as many applications as there are places available. The demand, thought to be driven by a lack of alternative options in today’s workplace, has been described as unprecedented.

Demand in the PLC sector is also being boosted by an influx of disappointed third-level applicants who didn’t receive an offer of a college place through the the over-subscribed CAO system this year, which also fielded a record number of applications.

In all there were 78,982 applications to the CAO this year, an increase of 7.5% on 2008, and as of last week a total of 44,481 places had been accepted. Further education colleges report that they have processed 60,000 applications for the 31,688 PLC places they have available with a number of colleges reporting a significant rise in the number of applications from mature students, echoing the increasing number of job losses.