A “ladder” based approach to education

Many students, when applying to college, will only ever consider doing an Honours Degree course at Level 8. But did you know that you can also achieve a Level 8 Honours degree even if you start your studies at Level 6 and Level 7? 

At TU Dublin, we are proud to offer a “ladder” approach to education, whereby Level 6 and Level 7 courses are a definite pathway towards obtaining an Honours Degree at Level 8. And of course, we offer a broad range of Level 6, and Level 7 courses across many of our disciplines*.  

*Note: Progression to some Level 8 courses, requires minimum grade achievements.

What are the benefits of doing a Level 6 or Level 7 course?

*Note: This may not be possible for all courses (for example Social Care). Check progression options on each course page for specific information.

What should I consider when applying?

When filling out your CAO form, you will notice that there are two lists for entering your choices – one is for Level 8 courses and the other is for Level 6 or 7. Students can apply for ten courses in each. In order to keep your options open and to have the best chance at achieving your desired course, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for multiple courses across both tables, remembering to place choices in order of preference. It might be tempting to disregard Level 6 or 7 if you have your heart set on a particular level 8 course. However, if you leave most of your choices on the CAO blank, you are essentially reducing your chances of attending college by half. 

Take a Business course for example. Instead of choosing Level 8 options only, a more prudent approach would be to put down a mix of Level 6 Higher Certificate options and Level 7 Ordinary Degree options. Remember, in most cases* you can progress to the next level of the course on successful completion, thereby achieving a Level 8 degree. 

*Note: Progression to some Level 8 courses, requires minimum grade achievements and students should check the specific progression options detailed on each course web page.

How long will my studies take?

In a “ladder” based approach, the student would complete two years on a Level 6 Higher Certificate course. On completion, they would then progress on a 1-year add-on course at Level 7, and on successful completion, they would then progress to the final year of a Level 8 programme. Many of our courses allow for progression from one Level to the next. On some courses, the year to which you progress is dependent on specific grade achievement.  Please check individual course pages for progression requirements.

What are the cost implications?

If you are an Irish citizen, there is usually no extra cost implications by progressing through your studies via Level 6 and 7. The cost will typically work out the same as it would if you commenced your studies from Level 8. Students are liable only to pay the Student Contribution charge which is set by the Dept. of Education annually.  
On some courses, the year to which you progress is dependent on specific grade achievement. This may result in an additional year of study which could have fee implications. Check individual course pages for progression requirements.


How does it work?

Below is an example of a typical progression path that a student might take from Level 6 through to Level 8. Please check individual course pages for specific details on progression options.

Consider your options. Paul considered his options carefully when applying to the CAO, choosing a mix of Level 6 and 7 courses, as well as some Level 8's. He was offered and he accepted a Level 6 Higher Certificate. This will take 2 years to complete. Begin at Level 6. Paul completes his Level 6 course over two years and will be awarded a Higher Certificate. He can opt to exit if he wishes, but because he meets the grade requirement, he decides to progress on to the Level 7 course*. Paul applies for Advanced Entry to the third year of the Level 7 course. He completes the year successfully and gains a Level 7 Continue to Level 8 Paul applies for the
Further Options...  On graduation, Paul quickly gains employment with his Honours Degree and works for a few years in Industry, gaining experience.  He decides that he will eventually come back to do a Postgraduate course at Level 9.

The National Framework of Qualifications

The Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a 10-level, single national entity through which all learning achievements may be measured and related to each other. Underpinned by quality assurance principles, the Irish NFQ describes qualifications in the Irish education and training system and sets out what each qualification says about what learners know, understand and are able to do. It also sets out qualifications pathways from one NFQ level to the next.

This "ladder system" of progression between courses provides opportunities for students to progress from Higher Certificate to Ordinary Bachelor Degree and on to Honours Bachelor Degree and Postgraduate levels and many of our students who begin on a Higher Certificate go on to successfully graduate with Honours or Postgraduate degrees.

The below video describes what the National Framework of Qualifications is and how it is used to connect education systems across the globe. It also describes the European Qualifications Framework.