Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses

What is a PLC course?

Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are full-time courses for people who have finished post-primary school (second-level education) and adults returning to education. PLC courses usually last one to 2 years.

If you have finished secondary school and want to get further education and training or skills for work, a Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course may be the course for you.

PLC courses take place in your local Education and Training Board (ETB) schools, colleges and education centres. The course may also provide work-based experience.

Courses leading to a degree

PLC courses develop your technical and practical skills for an industry-recognised qualification. They can also offer you a way into higher education and can give you the opportunity to try out a subject of interest to you. You can discuss your options with the PLC course provider.

From 7 July 2023, you can apply for one of 23 courses that will guarantee you entry to a third level degree programme. The new programme allows you to start your degree at an Education Training Board and complete it in a university.

Leaving school

The Citizens Information Board booklet, Information for school leavers, covers many of the practical questions about education and employment that you may have when you leave school.

Budget 2024: PLC fees and charges

The PLC participant contribution fee of €200 was abolished in 2022, however students continue to face various charges such as student services charges, application fees, exam fees and professional registration fees. It was announced in Budget 2024 that additional funding would be provided to abolish these charges and fees from September 2024.

PLC courses

PLC courses last one to 2 years and lead to an award on the National Framework of Qualifications at NFQ Level 5 or NFQ level 6 – see below.

Most PLC courses are delivered by Education and Training Boards (ETBs). You can find a complete list of all the PLC courses available on Qualifax - the national learners' database. You can search for a course on Qualifax.

PLC courses cover a wide range of areas including:

  • Business
  • Electronics engineering
  • Computing
  • Catering
  • Sport and leisure
  • Theatre and stage
  • Art craft and design
  • Equestrian studies
  • Multi-media studies and journalism
  • Tourism
  • Childcare and community care
  • Hairdressing and beauty care
  • Horticulture

See all the courses available on Qualifax.

National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)

The qualification you get at the end of your training will depend on the type of course you have chosen.

Many of the one-year PLC courses offer Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) accreditation at level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications, while other more advanced courses may offer QQI level 6, which can lead to further studies at third level. Other qualifications such as City and Guilds are also available. It is important to check out the qualification attached to a particular course before you decide to enrol.

The National Framework of Qualifications is made up of different levels. It shows learners their progression through the education system.

Who can apply for a PLC course?

In general, you should have finished your secondary education and completed your Leaving Certificate to be eligible for a PLC course.

However, you may be able to apply for a PLC course if you have not completed your Leaving Certificate. If you have work experience relevant to the course or think you can show an ability in that area, you should contact the college where the course will take place. Explain your circumstances and ask to meet the co-ordinator of the course.

PLC course fees

Since September 2022, you do not have to pay a participant contribution fee for a PLC course.

Colleges offering PLC courses usually have an additional 'course charge' to cover such expenses as books, uniforms, student services, professional registration fees and exam fees. The amount varies from college to college. Everyone has to pay the 'course charge'.

Financial supports

You may qualify for a student grant or a Back to Education Allowance, depending on your circumstances. Find out more about who qualifies for a student grant and how to apply.

If you are a refugee from Ukraine and covered by the EU Temporary Protection Directive, you can get financial support from the PLC Bursary for Displaced Persons (Ukraine) Scheme 2023-2024.

How to apply for a PLC course

Use the national learners' database to find the course in which you are most interested. Apply directly to the school or college offering that course. Many PLC courses take place in your local Education and Training Board (ETB).

You may be called for an interview before a final selection is made because the courses are work-related. These interviews are often quite informal and offer you the opportunity to discuss your particular interest in the course.

Page edited: 12 October 2023