Higher Links Explained

Your Level 5 or Level 6 Award at DFEi is only the beginning of your journey. Let us guide you through the possibilities ahead of you and give you some handy tips on progression to Higher Education through the Higher Education Links Scheme, the Advanced Entry route and Mature Student Entry.

1. The Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS)

The Higher Education Links Scheme gives students the opportunity to use their QQI Level 5 or 6 major award to apply, through the CAO, for a place in the first year of a Higher Education programme. You will find that your DFEi course has HELS links to many such programmes.

Navigating the Higher Education Links Scheme is easy if you know how. Here, we guide you through the process in simple steps.

Checking if your chosen course is linked to a Higher Education Programme:

STEP 1: Find the Award Code for your DFEi course. You can find your Award Code listed on your course description page at www.dfei.ie. For example, the Award code for our Business with Marketing course is 5M2102.

STEP 2: Find the course code for your desired Higher Education prorgamme. Every programme has a CAO code. You can find this at http://www2.cao.ie/points/l8.php or by consulting the website of the relevant Higher Education Institution. For example, the code for the Degree in Law at TCD is TR004.

STEP 3: Go to the following link:

http://www.cao.ie/index.php?page=fetac_search

You will see this page:

CAO FET links QQI

STEP 4: Insert the code for your desired Higher Education course and click “Go”.

The results will look something like this:

CAO FET links QQI links

Sourcing Additional Information:

Some Higher Education Institutions publish information about what QQI courses their programmes are linked to, and how many places are available. Here are the up-to-date information documents for Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and Dublin City University.

https://www.ucd.ie/registry/prospectivestudents/admissions/undergraduateapplicants/alternativeentryroutes/qqi-fetentryroutes/

https://www.tcd.ie/study/assets/PDF/2021-Progression-Pathways-to-Trinity-1.pdf

https://www.dcu.ie/sites/default/files/inline-files/dcu-qqi-places-2020.xlsx.pdf

James Christian

Currently studying for a BA in Economics, Politics and Law in DCU.

After my Leaving Cert I  started a course but it wasn’t for me so I dropped out. At that time I was looking at different courses and the degree course in DCU in Politics,…

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James Christian

Currently studying for a BA in Economics, Politics and Law in DCU.

After my Leaving Cert I  started a course but it wasn’t for me so I dropped out. At that time I was looking at different courses and the degree course in DCU in Politics, Economics and Law really appealed to me.  I did my research and discovered there were lots of  higher links from the DFEi, Business and Law course  . So I applied to the CAO using my QQI points. The year in DFEi turned out to be a much better choice than repeating my Leaving Cert  as I got improve my IT skills and I got to study relevant subjects like Law.   I was delighted  when I got my first CAO choice. I definitely feel the year in DFEi gave me a head start in DCU,

Advanced Entry, using your DFEi Level 6 Award

An Advanced Entry application can be used by an applicant to apply for entry to year 2 of a relevant course at certain Higher Education Institutions, including:

  • Cork Institute of Technology
  • Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology
  • Institute of Technology, Carlow
  • National College of Art and Design
  • Technological University Dublin, Blanchardstown Campus
  • Technological University Dublin, City Campus
  • Technological University Dublin, Tallaght Campus
  • University College Cork


To apply to Higher Education Institutions not listed above, you should contact the Admissions Office of the relevant institution for further information.

You should also contact the Admissions Office of the relevant institution for details of minimum entry requirements in advance of making an application.

If you are interested in the Advanced Entry route, you will find the following guide helpful:

http://www2.cao.ie/downloads/ae/cao_advanced_entry_guide.pdf


Mature Student Entry

If you are 23 years old on or before 1st January 2022 (i.e., born on or before 1st January 1999), you may be eligible to apply for mature student admission to a Higher Education institution in Autumn 2022. However, some Higher Education Institutions may have a different age requirement.

Higher Education Institutions have differing requirements for mature student entry, and differing deadlines. For some institutions, such as National College of Ireland, you should apply directly. For others you should apply through CAO. You should check with the relevant Higher Education Institution about its specific requirements.

The following link will provide you with more information on Mature Student Entry:

https://www.cao.ie/index.php?page=mature

Rachel Byrne

Class of 2019 (Pre-University Science)

I am now entering my final year of Biomedical Science in Trinity College Dublin, specialising in Environmental Science. I have had a very exciting few years in TCD so far. This summer (2021) I am doing…

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Rachel Byrne

Class of 2019 (Pre-University Science)

I am now entering my final year of Biomedical Science in Trinity College Dublin, specialising in Environmental Science. I have had a very exciting few years in TCD so far. This summer (2021) I am doing an internship with CITI bank learning about sustainable investments. Earlier this year  (June2021) I was invited to speak in an international conference on technology and conservation.  I was a panellist alongside the world renowned conservationist and UN Messenger of Peace Dr. Jane Goodall, DB, someone I have always looked up to.

Studying in DFEi played a key part in my journey. It was a big decision to return to study back in 2018. I was nervous and unsure but the nurturing attitude of the college and the continuous encouragement of the teachers restored my self-confidence. I have a vivid memory of a presentation I did for one of the modules. Despite my nerves I performed well and the teacher commented that she looked forward to seeing me on a TED Talk one day. That comment stuck with me and really pushed me forward.

I would strongly encourage any mature student thinking of returning to study to take that step.  My year in DFEi helped me decide which area of Science was for me I had the change to refamiliarize myself with a structured learning environment while receiving close guidance and support. Back in 2018 I would have never imagined I would one day be taking the (virtual) stage alongside such inspiring women like Dr. Jane Goodall.

Class of 2019 (Pre-University Science)

I am now entering my final year of Biomedical Science in Trinity College Dublin, specialising in Environmental Science. I have had a very exciting few years in TCD so far. This summer (2021) I am doing an internship with CITI bank learning about sustainable investments. Earlier this year  (June2021) I was invited to speak in an international conference on technology and conservation.  I was a panellist alongside the world renowned conservationist and UN Messenger of Peace Dr. Jane Goodall, DB, someone I have always looked up to.

Studying in DFEi played a key part in my journey. It was a big decision to return to study back in 2018. I was nervous and unsure but the nurturing attitude of the college and the continuous encouragement of the teachers restored my self-confidence. I have a vivid memory of a presentation I did for one of the modules. Despite my nerves I performed well and the teacher commented that she looked forward to seeing me on a TED Talk one day. That comment stuck with me and really pushed me forward.

I would strongly encourage any mature student thinking of returning to study to take that step.  My year in DFEi helped me decide which area of Science was for me I had the change to refamiliarize myself with a structured learning environment while receiving close guidance and support. Back in 2018 I would have never imagined I would one day be taking the (virtual) stage alongside such inspiring women like Dr. Jane Goodall.

Rachel Byrne

Class of 2019 (Pre-University Science)

I am now entering my final year of Biomedical Science in Trinity College Dublin, specialising in Environmental Science. I have had a very exciting few years in TCD so far. This summer (2021) I am doing an internship with CITI bank learning about sustainable investments. Earlier this year  (June2021) I was invited to speak in an international conference on technology and conservation.  I was a panellist alongside the world renowned conservationist and UN Messenger of Peace Dr. Jane Goodall, DB, someone I have always looked up to.

Studying in DFEi played a key part in my journey. It was a big decision to return to study back in 2018. I was nervous and unsure but the nurturing attitude of the college and the continuous encouragement of the teachers restored my self-confidence. I have a vivid memory of a presentation I did for one of the modules. Despite my nerves I performed well and the teacher commented that she looked forward to seeing me on a TED Talk one day. That comment stuck with me and really pushed me forward.

I would strongly encourage any mature student thinking of returning to study to take that step.  My year in DFEi helped me decide which area of Science was for me I had the change to refamiliarize myself with a structured learning environment while receiving close guidance and support. Back in 2018 I would have never imagined I would one day be taking the (virtual) stage alongside such inspiring women like Dr. Jane Goodall.

Class of 2019 (Pre-University Science)

I am now entering my final year of Biomedical Science in Trinity College Dublin, specialising in Environmental Science. I have had a very exciting few years in TCD so far. This summer (2021) I am doing an internship with CITI bank learning about sustainable investments. Earlier this year  (June2021) I was invited to speak in an international conference on technology and conservation.  I was a panellist alongside the world renowned conservationist and UN Messenger of Peace Dr. Jane Goodall, DB, someone I have always looked up to.

Studying in DFEi played a key part in my journey. It was a big decision to return to study back in 2018. I was nervous and unsure but the nurturing attitude of the college and the continuous encouragement of the teachers restored my self-confidence. I have a vivid memory of a presentation I did for one of the modules. Despite my nerves I performed well and the teacher commented that she looked forward to seeing me on a TED Talk one day. That comment stuck with me and really pushed me forward.

I would strongly encourage any mature student thinking of returning to study to take that step.  My year in DFEi helped me decide which area of Science was for me I had the change to refamiliarize myself with a structured learning environment while receiving close guidance and support. Back in 2018 I would have never imagined I would one day be taking the (virtual) stage alongside such inspiring women like Dr. Jane Goodall.

Thank You

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