25 February, 2021 | Posted by Cian Fahey

Leaving Cert CAO Points - An Alternative Route to Your Level 8/Level 9 Degree

Leaving Cert CAO Points

The 2020 Leaving Cert class was supposed to be unique. They were supposed to be the only class directly impacted by Covid-19 and calculated grades. But Covid has lingered longer than anyone wanted it to and now the 2021 class faces the same elevated uncertainty that plagued the 2020 class.

Calculated grades are an option for students this year. They can also still sit an exam in person should they choose.

Having both options in theory will help students as they seek out adequate CAO points to get the courses they want. But, as last year proved, there is no guarantee that this process goes smoothly. Chasing CAO points is a stressful task by its very nature. The late reveal of your results and the sudden start of the college year that follows is a double dose of stress that forces you into a quick decision.

A quick decision that has long-lasting effects.

This year of all years is a good time to avoid adding that unnecessary strain to your life. At Portobello Institute, you can find the comfort of certainty and security that doesn’t exist in the CAO point system.

You can sidestep the CAO point requirement and secure your place right now with Portobello for the same level of degree that you’ll have to wait for through the CAO system.

London Metropolitan University is the awarding body for Portobello’s degrees. Courses are equivalent to Level 7, Level 8 and Level 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). You don’t need to win the CAO point race to get the standard of degree that you want. Each course at Portobello has its own entry requirements but CAO points aren’t the only route to qualifying for your place.

For example, the entry requirements for the BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy Level 8 degree are:

“Minimum of grade C or O6 in ordinary level Biology or Physical Education, English and Maths with a pass in three other subjects. If you don’t have Leaving Cert Biology or Physical Education, you can undertake the QQI Level 5 Anatomy and Physiology course at Portobello as an alternative prior to taking your place.”

You can also apply to the course without a Leaving Cert.

Course advisor Johanna Shaw is a member of our Admissions team that is always available to talk students through the application process, “Applications are now open for October 2021 so they can secure their place now…we can do an interview now over the phone. We can ask them the right questions to make sure they get on the right course.

All we need is their transcripts in the Summer so we can confirm their place and then they can join us in October.”

The interview isn’t obligatory but past students have found the one-to-one guidance to be very helpful. That one-to-one aspect of Portobello also exists in the teaching of the courses themselves. Programme leads, lecturers and tutors all develop individual relationships with each student. These are professional practitioners and academic sources of authority who understand how to engage learners.

During a recent survey of students (both past and present), the engagement factor was repeatedly pointed to as a big benefit of going to Portobello.

One of our third year Sports Therapy students recently explained the value she got from choosing Portobello over the other Physiotherapy courses she qualified for through the CAO: “If people actually knew what Portobello was or understood the quality of the degrees [it would be an easy choice to go there]…I didn’t do TY and I can do a Level 8 here in three years, then a Masters in year 4 so I’m two years ahead of all my friends who are doing the same thing [through the CAO].”

Another student, who was studying PE, explained that she had the modules of her course verified by an industry professional before signing up. She was delighted with the course content and even happier to have LMU as the awarding body because she wanted to continue her education in the United Kingdom.

Easing pressure on students while still offering the highest level of qualifications and curriculum is central to what Portobello does.

We want ambitious, excited students but we also understand that education shouldn’t take over your whole life. We purposely condense in-class delivery into two days per week and we don't spread those classes out because we're considering scheduling from the student's perspective. We find a way around any obstacle that develops in front of a student's path to learning.

Because of Blended Learning and our purposely condensed in-class schedules, our students find it easier to support themselves financially, maintain a social life and/or spend time with their families while studying for full-time degrees. We meticulously develop our schedules so that we maximize the value of having you in the building.

There is no time wasted on superfluous information or classes that you don’t really need.

This was a big positive for one of our recent graduates from the Level 9 MSc Sport Performance Analysis degree. He found that his friends who were on similar sports science courses in Ireland and abroad were enduring first year modules that they didn’t take anything from. These modules were seemingly designed to flesh the course out into four years when it could have been delivered in three.

Education doesn’t need to be difficult. You don’t have to suffer to take in the information and develop the practical skills that you need to excel in your desired career. Education can be hard work but the learning itself should be where the challenge is. Fighting for a place based on volatile CAO point targets and wasting half of your day on an inefficient schedule shouldn’t be what the college experience is about.

And that’s not what it’s about at Portobello.

For more information on the courses available at Portobello Institute, you can choose from one of our six department pages. If you’re not sure what you want to do or if you already know what course you want to do and would like to know more about it, you can contact a member of our admissions team.

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