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What are the barriers for students progressing from Further Education and Training to Higher Education?

This question will be explored in depth at the first FET2HE Network conference in The Helix, DCU today (Friday 21st October). Themed ‘Supporting Progression from FET2HE – Making it Happen’, this conference is providing an unprecedented platform to bring together policy makers, practitioners, academics and researchers, with a specific focus to widen access to higher education (HE) for further education and training (FET) students.

The conference is seeking to examine how best to support progression between FET and HE, learn from national and international experience, look at the barriers to progression, discuss and then identify the next steps required to support increased progression from FET to HE.

Keynote speakers include Dr Sharon Morrissey, Vice Chancellor for Academic Services and Research in the Virginia Community College System and Dr. Matthew O’Leary, Reader in Education, Birmingham City University who will provide insights and learning from the Community College System in the USA and the Further Education Sector in the UK. A number of students will also take part in the conference and will share their personal experience of transitioning from FET to HE. Speaking about the upcoming conference, Chair of the network and Director of Access at Maynooth University, Rose Ryan said ‘The National Access Plan has set a target of 10% for students progressing from further education and training to higher education by 2019. Equally the Further Education and Training Strategy seeks to formalise and map existing and new pathways from FET to HE. Our network is working to identify the barriers and propose appropriate and feasible solutions. Today’s conference helps us cooperatively develop plans that lead to fair and equal access, transfer and progression opportunities for learners.’

Dr Anne Looney, Higher Education Authority, said ‘We need to do more to signpost the pathways into Higher Education beyond the CAO route. For school leavers in particular, it’s important to show that a Further Education course can be a way in to Higher Education and can provide a foundation for doing really well in that higher education course and beyond, in work or further studies.

This signposting is part of national education policy and the HEA is very pleased to support this conference by the FET2HE network which showcases the ‘first fruits’ of work on the development of pathways from FET to HE by a regional cluster of education partners. The conference will also support continued regional and national dialogue on where further improvements are needed. There is a role for all stakeholders in promoting the Further Education sector not as only as the ‘alternative’ to direct entry, but as a first choice for students who want more time to decide on a HE option, who want to develop some of the skills needed to succeed in HE, or who want a more supported transition to independent study.’ The conference is supported by the Department of Education and Skills and the HEA through the Strategic Innovation Development Fund and is being co-funded by QQI and SOLAS. It has been organised by the FET2HE Network which was established in 2015 across the Leinster Pillar 2 Regional Cluster. This formal network of Further Education and Training providers and Higher Education providers was established for the purposes of collaboration on enhancing access, transfer and progression opportunities across the region.

For further information see or contact Maria Walshe, SOLAS Communications Manager. Email: or phone: 0872074280.

Notes to Editors

This network comprises of representatives from four HEIs and eight ETBs in our Regional Cluster. The network also has representatives from QQI and SOLAS and is supported by the DES and the HEA through the Strategic Innovation Development Fund.

Higher Education Partners:
  • Dublin City University (DCU)
  • Maynooth University (MU)
  • Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT)
  • Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT)

Education and Training Board Partners:
  • Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB)
  • City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB)
  • Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDETB)
  • Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB)
  • Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB)
  • Laois Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB)
  • Longford Westmeath Education and Training Board (LWMETB)