Many potential mature learners opt for, or are required to take, a ‘preparatory course’ either in a Third Level Institution or in a Further Education Centre which is linked to the Third Level Institution, before embarking on a degree programme. These courses re-introduce learners to the world of learning, while providing opportunities for gaining various important academic skills e.g. note taking, reading, writing, research/library skills and IT skills. Learners can also sample a range of academic subjects, the aim of which is to encourage learners to make more informed choices regarding course selection at third level.
These courses may also be called foundation certificates and can carry QQI Level 5 accreditation. Assessment is carried out in a number of ways, including attendance, class participation and written assignments which may include essay writing, keeping a learning journal and/or research projects. Assignments are normally submitted throughout the year and individual support can also be available to learners.
Carlow Institute of Further Education has a Third Level Link Programme to courses in Carlow College. It also has a co-operation agreement with the Institute of Technology Carlow and with Waterford Institute of Technology for learners considering progressing to higher level courses.