Access to Further and Higher Education


National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) 

All awards at DFEI are recognised at either Level 5 or Level 6 on the NFQ.  The NFQ consists of 10 levels which are displayed 
in the diagram below.  This framework is a structure of levels designed so that different levels of qualifications can be 
commonly recognised nationally and internationally amongst employers.
Using FETAC Awards to progress to Higher Education
A learner can use their FETAC award to progress to further and higher education using the links scheme.  FETAC has introduced a new awards system known as the Common Awards System (CAS).  All FETAC awards will be part of the CAS from 2014.

The Higher Education Links Scheme

This scheme links FETAC Level 5 Certificates and level 6 Advanced Certificates to reserved places on a variety of higher education programmes.
FETAC applicants submit their 3rd level applications to the CAO by the 1st of February 2014.  In July FETAC results are issued to the CAO and the participating institutions (Universities, Institutes of Technology and private 3rd Level Colleges).  
A new scoring system has been agreed for all level 5 and 6 awards, providing access through the CAO to the first year of programmes leading to awards at levels 6, 7 and 8. This will be applied from 2013.
The scoring process is as follows and is managed by the CAO:
Each level 5 and /level 6 component is scored by CAO as follows:
  • Distinction = 3.333 points
  • Merit = 2.222 points
  • Pass = 1.111 points
This is then multiplied by the individual component credit value to a maximum 120 credits, a total of 400 points. This scoring system replaces that of the original Higher Education Links Scheme and that of the Pilot Scheme, and applies to all results achieved from 2013.
For components with a credit value of less than 5 credits, multiply the credit value by 15.
Components leading to the best 120 credits are scored and applicants are ranked accordingly. The best 120 credits come from minor awards achieved with the highest grades.
The transcript for Major awards lists the award code and title, grade and date of achievement for individual components required for the major award, and for any components achieved in any other Certification period. FETAC forwards all relevant results achieved by applicants to the CAO.

Important points to note

  • Applicants must have obtained a full FETAC major award.  A component certificate will not suffice
  • Application is through the CAO and applicants must be submitted to the CAO by 1st February 2014
  • A full award may be accumulated over more than one year; however some institutes and universities may request the award over one year
  • Certain progression courses may have additional specific requirements
  • Applicants are advised at all times to confirm linked awards, any additional module requirements and application processes with the admissions offices of the participating higher education institutes, or visit
  • In addition, some programmes in higher education require achievement of specified component awards, specific grades in individual component awards, or additional awards such as mathematics
  • Mature applicants who gain RPL must make sure that they have a full award as this is a necessity for progression
  • There is no automatic right to a CAO place

Websites for further information

3rd Level College Websites