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Post-Leaving Certificate courses

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If you’ve finished your secondary education and are wondering what to do next, or you want to acquire certain skills, a Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course could be for you.

The courses are full-time and last for one to two years, offering “hands-on” practical work, academic work and work experience.

PLCs are great if you wish to gain specific skills or experience to help you get a job.

They can also be a stepping stone into further third-level education, such as diplomas or undergraduate degrees.

What subjects are covered?

There are a wide range of courses and subjects offered by PLCs, designed to suit many interests and to lead into many areas of employment and further study.

PLC courses take place in schools, colleges and community education centres and are delivered by Education and Training Boards (ETBs).


Different courses can lead to different qualifications. It’s important to find out what qualification you would receive at the end of the course, before you decide to enrol. Many of the 1-year PLC courses offer QQI Level 5 accreditation, while other more advanced courses may offer qq1 Level 6 accreditation, which can lead to further studies at third level.

Costs and grants

A participant contribution of €200 per year is charged for PLC students. If you have a medical card or if you are getting Back to Education Allowance or a VTOS allowance, you may be exempt from this fee. There are other exemptions too, so check with the school or college offering the PLC course you are interested in studying.

You may be eligible for a means-tested student grant or a Back to Education Allowance, depending on your circumstances. Check out the PLC section on SUSI for information on grant eligibility.

There are also usually ‘course charges’, which the college will use to cover expenses such as books, uniforms, student services, professional registration fees and exam fees. Different colleges charge different amounts and even if you are exempt from the participant contribution, you will still have to pay the course charge.

How to apply

Once you have found a course you are interested in, you should apply directly to the school or college offering that course. You may be called for an informal interview to discuss the course and your reason for applying.

To be eligible for a PLC course, in general, you should have finished your secondary education and taken your Leaving Certificate exams.

However, if you have work experience relevant to the course you want to study, you should write to the college offering the course. Explain your circumstances and ask to meet with the course co-ordinator – you may be accepted, so it’s worth a shot!

To find a PLC you are interested in, you can use the national learners’ database 

This article was last reviewed on 07 August 2018

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