Going to higher education using my QQI Award
The Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS) allows further education learners with specific awards to access a wide range of third level courses in most of Ireland’s universities and institutes of technology.
- You must hold an NFQ Level 5 or Level 6 major award and apply through the Central Applications Office for a place in the first year or second year of a higher education programme.
- A major award is a combination of specific components to the value of 120 credits.
- Different combinations of components lead to different major awards.
Qualifax is Ireland’s National Learners’ Database and CareersPortal is Ireland's leading careers guidance website.
- details on the awards needed,
- the grades that you must achieve, and
- the specific modules you need to access your chosen 3rd level course.
The Central Applications Office (CAO), individual universities and institutes of technology also provide information about entrance requirements on their websites.
Applicants must check both the individual higher education institution and the CAO websites to ensure they meet any special or essential requirements specified, such as:
- a specific major award,
- a specific component,
- grade in a specific component ,
- any additional award requirements such as mathematics, or
- that all credits used for scoring purposes are achieved in one ‘single sitting’.
A major award can be achieved by accumulating credits over more than one year. However, some higher education institutions may require that you achieve the major award between 1 August and 31 July of any certification year.
When you complete your QQI course, your college submits all your results data to QQI.
Those results are scored by QQI up to a maximum of 390 points.
In July, QQI securely transfers the scored results files to the CAO. These files contain results for learners who have informed the CAO (by completing the CAO application form) that they have achieved awards from QQI or its predecessor FETAC.
These files are sent to the CAO in time for the CAO round zero offers, which are made to CAO applicants who are not competing with students awaiting Leaving Certificate grades or who are assessed on other criteria.
You can calculate your score using this free online points calculator, which uses the following scoring system:
- Each NFQ Level 5 and Level 6 component is scored as follows:
- 3.25 for a distinction
- 2.16 for a merit
- 1.08 for a pass
- This number is then multiplied by the individual component credit value to a maximum of 120 credits (a total of 390 points).
It may be easiest to multiply the individual component credit value by 3 for distinction, 2 for merit, and 1 for pass, multiplying by 13 and then dividing by 12.