The Right Course Of Action

With the February 1 CAO deadline looming, students are finalising their third-level course choices. In this special Hot Press feature, Aoife Stuart Madge looks at some of the options, and details a selection of the most exciting higher education courses available. 


  Whether it’s to help you make the first leap towards a professional vocation; to arm yourself with the smarts to finally make that crucial career change; or simply to garner a foundation of knowledge and confidence before you launch yourself into the working world, there are plenty of reasons to enter third-level education – and there’s never been a better time. 

  Anyone who is doing the Leaving Certificate this year should be getting their skates on. Similarly, those who want to return to the educational fold as a mature student. The CAO deadline is February 1, and so we are fast approaching ‘make up your mind’ time. 

  At a moment like this, there are many factors for aspiring students to consider as they ponder their course options and possible careers. Do you want to stay close to home or are you prepared to travel? Would you prefer to be based in a big city or does a smaller-town campus seem more attractive? 

  Of course the extent to which we can make those choices is down, to an extent at least, to what we want to study. And why that is our prospective first choice. Underlying that is a fundamental question: what do I really want to get from education? 

  We can’t offer any guarantees as to what;s going to happen in the future – but there are appealing career prospects out there. It’s your job to make sure that you’ve got the qualifications to back up your ambition. Here, we present an introduction to some of the country’s top HEI courses, where you can start your next learning adventure…

Crumlin College
Tel: (01) 454 0662

Established over 60 years ago, Crumlin College has a reputation for delivering exceptional vocational training that constantly adapts according to industry trends. Whether you want to be a chef, sports therapist, computer technician, web designer, accountant, beautician or florist there is a course for you here. Among the new courses on offer for 2017 are: Creative Media, which combines elements of illustration, image processing and desktop publishing; Culinary Arts – where budding chefs can train in the art of pastry, baking & desserts, international cuisines and culinary techniques; and Beauty Specialist and Retail Sales, covering everything you need to succeed in the beauty biz, from epilation, tanning and make-up to customer service and sales and marketing. Applications for courses starting in September 2017 are now open. Application forms are available online and interviews for places will be held in the spring. There are also evening courses available, with classes commencing in the week beginning January 30, 2017. Located in Dublin 12, close to Crumlin Shopping Centre, the college is easily accessible from the city centre via the Luas (red line).

BIMM Dublin
Tel: (01) 513 3666

Part of the BIMM group, the biggest contemporary music college in the UK and Ireland, BIMM Dublin has wasted no time in setting out its stall as a mecca for musicians in the capital and beyond. Conveniently located close to the centre of a city teeming with musical heritage, it offers an exciting new educational experience to a new generation of Irish talent. To do so, they call upon plenty of established acts to get involved; this is truly a college for musicians, by musicians. Case in point – David Bowie collaborator and guitarist Gerry Leonard will be joining BIMM Dublin Guitar Department as an associate tutor this year, while the Sex Pistols’ original bass player Glen Matlock is visiting the college to be interviewed by The Membranes’ Jon Robb. Their faculty includes other big-hitters such as Cathy Davey, Ollie Cole, Kieran McGuinness and Dave Geraghty, while regular workshops have seen the likes of Imelda May, John Grant, Hozier and Chuck D giving classes. Indeed, U2’s The Edge made a surprise appearance at the graduation ceremony of the BIMM Dublin class of 2016

Dublin Institute Of Technology
Tel: (01) 402 3000

For those looking to distinguish themselves in fields ranging from business to science, and music to law, Dublin Institute of Technology, aka DIT, offers more than 100 full and part time postgraduate programmes. These are crucial to people who are seeking to make a quantum leap forward in their careers. While many students will be continuing their studies in an academic area in which they have already gained qualifications, lots of the DIT options are described as ‘conversion’ programmes. Essentially, they open the door to graduates who wish to change the direction of their career or move into a new industry or discipline. If, for example, you’ve found yourself daydreaming of swapping your boring job for a future in digital media, or fancy chasing your dream of being a fashion buyer, journalist or business analyst, then the stepping stones you need are to be found at DIT. There is an emphasis here on practical qualifications, which are industry-supported and recognised – a really important factor when it comes to the job opportunities that arise from further education. Priding itself on being practice led and research-informed, the college equips graduates with the qualifications and expertise to take make the leap they’ve always yearned for.

Colaiste Stiofain Naofa, Cork
Tel: (021) 496 1020

CSN’s renowned Music, Management & Sound course has been supplying top quality professional performers and sound engineers to the music industry for almost 30 years. Graduates include Mick Flannery, Sinéad Lohan and O Emperor, along with members of Walking on Cars, The High Kings and The Frank & Walters. The course focuses on practical musicianship, live performance, studio and live sound engineering, music law and songwriting, along with marketing and promotion of music as a product. The live gigs staged throughout the year have become a feature of Cork’s thriving music scene. The course is also suitable for experienced musicians who intend to pursue a degree in popular music, including preparation for auditions/entrance exams. The second year of the course is project-based and sets musicians and engineers up for careers in the music industry, as performers, managers or engineers, or to progress to relevant degree programmes. CSN has strong connections with CIT Cork School of Music’s BA Degree in Popular Music, and has a high success rate of entry into third level courses in Ireland and the UK generally.

Gaiety School Of Acting
Tel: (01) 679 9277

The Gaiety Theatre celebrated its 30th anniversary in glittering style in 2016, with school patron Liam Neeson, Brenda Fricker and Rosaleen Linehan launching the celebrations at a star-studded event at the Shelbourne Hotel. This was followed by a glamorous party at Smock Alley Theatre, adjacent to the school’s home in Essex Street West, sponsored by Wicklow Wolf Brewing Company, and attended by past pupils including PJ Gallagher, Tara Egan Langley (now appearing in The Heiress in The Gate Theatre), Dawn Bradfield, Simone Kirby and Karl Shiels.

In fact, reading the roll call of the Gaiety School’s past pupils (Colin Farrell, Aidan Turner, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Murphy and Deirdre O’Kane among them), it’s no surprise that it’s the alma mater of many of the country’s most prominent actors, writers and theatre makers.

It all began in October 1986, when theatre director Joe Dowling opened The Gaiety School of Acting at a modest venue in Baggot Street. His intention was to begin a tradition of professional actor training in Ireland that had thus far been lacking in the country. Fast forward 30 years and Dowling’s legacy lives on, as today, under the directorship of Patrick Sutton, Gaiety School of Acting graduates grace the cast lists of countless national and international films, television shows and theatre productions.

Maynooth University
Tel: (01) 708 6000 

Set on a large, historic campus in Ireland’s only true university town, Maynooth University has consistently topped student satisfaction rankings in the Republic – and with good reason too. From renowned research centres and a reputation for excellent teaching to the award-winning Chamber Choir, there’s a lot on offer at the college. Its superb location, outside Dublin, but just 30 minutes from it, is a wonderful added bonus.

Maynooth enjoys a worldwide distinction in the fields of humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, as well as much-admired programmes in computer science, critical and creative media and music, and music technology. More than 9,000 students from over 20 countries are part of the family, which includes no small number of postgrads, drawn to the college’s excellently designed courses – many of which are ‘conversion’ courses, enabling ambitious students to leap towards a new field of study.

Their MSc Business Management is open to all BA and BSc graduates. It aims to deliver an intensive experience that will launch the careers of the aspiring entrepreneurs of the future. Their Masters’ in Law programmes (Global Legal Studies, International Justice, International Business Law and Comparative Criminology and Criminal Justice) aim to produce graduates with the skills and confidence to thrive in the global economy, but who are socially engaged and active citizens. 

A Masters in Design Innovation, meanwhile, has attracted both experienced and recent graduates with its practice-oriented programme, designed to enhance understanding, creativity and strategic thinking for business ideas or organisations.

With scholarships for postgraduate studies available, Maynooth is a very attractive option, if a move to the next level – or even to a completely new industry – is in your sights over the coming year.

Ormonde College Of Further Education
Tel: (056) 776 3321

Kilkenny’s largest provider of Further Education and Training, Ormonde College offers a wide range of courses including Art, Animation Studies, Animal Care, Media Studies, Nursing Studies and Security Studies, amongst many others. In response to the growth of employment opportunities in the sector, the college launched a new one-year, full-time course in Tourism and Event Management in 2016. Courses are open to those who have completed post-primary education as well as mature applicants. Applications are now being accepted for entry in September 2017.

The college has launched its new prospectus for 2017/18 – copies can be obtained by contacting the college and are also available online. On Thursday, February 9, the college will host an open evening from 4pm to 7pm where you can get further info on courses, the application process and details on grants and financial aid. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to study in the heart of Ireland’s medieval city.

Ballyfermot College
Tel: (01) 626 9421

Long-hailed as a leader in the delivery of media and music courses in Ireland, Ballyfermot College has been running music courses since the Rock School was set up in 1990. The Rock School is a two-year HND course, aimed at students who aspire to become professional musicians and who want to learn about the music industry. Live performances in the college and at city centre venues are an exciting and integral part of the course. Equally popular is the two-year HND in Music Production, which involves technical operations of modern sound equipment and music technology. Students work with performers and musicians in the recording studios to produce master tracks and other media. Another notable course is the two-year HND in Professional Traditional Performance, which is aimed is aimed at musicians and singers who wish to pursue a career in traditional music. The college has also been running a HND in Music Management since 1998. Damien Rice’s manager Bernadette Barrett (Mondo Management) graduated from BCFE’s first ever music management course. A mature student and chef by trade, she says she had no idea that there was such a thing as a music industry. “I loved every day of it,” she says, “and the placement that I found at the end of the course kick-started my life in music.”

St Angela’s College, Sligo
Tel: (071) 913 5658

On the shores of Lough Gill, five minutes from Sligo Town, St. Angela’s College is the place for budding sartorial power-houses to cut their first patterns. The BA in Fashion Design is a three-year degree, mixing advanced design and technical skills with design philosophy, textile processes and sustainable design practices. It aims to produce highly-skilled designers for work in a variety of careers in the fashion and textile industries. The course offers optional work placements and Erasmus- funded opportunities to study or obtain a work placement abroad, allowing you to cut your design teeth as an intern in big international design houses.

The college offers a diploma in Foundation Studies for school leavers and mature students who wish to study at third level through their access course. As far as student experiences go, most of the student population are based in vibrant Sligo town, which offers surfing, sporting and outdoor activities, as well as a burgeoning music and arts scene.

Aside from the fashion course, the college has a variety of academic departments, include Nursing, Health Sciences and Disability Studies, Education and Home Economics.

Kylemore College
Tel: (01) 626 5901

Established in 1965, Kylemore College now has a very successful further education sector, with courses including Music Technology and Music Performance. The Music Technology course offers a grounding in the common applications of music technology in the recording, compositional and commercial music fields. Modules include audio engineering, sound engineering and production music theory. The Music Performance course is designed for imaginative musicians who want to explore their creative potential while learning about how the latest technologies in sound recording and mixing can aid their performance. The college encourages creative collaboration, so you’ll have the opportunity to meet other students from all areas of musical life, and work with other enthusiasts on collaborative projects. Learning mixes structured tuition (classes and studio sessions) with independent time in the recording studio. The college is having an open day on from 2pm-4pm on February 1 – so make sure to check it out if you aspire to a career in the music industry.