Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Alternate routes to college - Access Foundation Programme.

This is the second part of the two part series showing alternate routes to college. If you haven't already check out my previous post about FETAC courses. The main differences between these two routes is that you gain a place on a course of your choice based on your effort in the Access programme and FETAC works on a grading system. Each module you pass counts towards you gaining entry to a third level institute. So if final exams are not your thing this route my work better for you. And don't be afraid to check out every possible route.

This post was written by my friend Eric who studies computer science infrastructure at Dublin Institute of Technology. This is his experience as a Access student and how he feels it benefited him.

After being out of education for over 8 years and fed up working in retail I decided to return to education and pursue a career in something that would guarantee me happiness. I first heard about the access programme through DIT’s website, however at the time I couldn’t find much information on the modules. So I have decided to write this article to help you understand what it’s all about. Hesitant and thinking I was going to stick out like a sore thumb, I started the AFP and from day one on my journey to 3rd level education I found exactly what I was looking for. I felt extremely excited about education once again. The students whom accompanied me on the course were all great people. Everybody were from all different kinds of backgrounds. It was great to meet such a fantastic bunch of people. Especially the lecturers, who I must commend for their amazing work and patience.

The Access Foundation Programme (AFP), is a programme aimed at people from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is also aimed at people who never really got a shot at college. The philosophy of the Access Programme is to assist you in getting to a high standard of academic student and preparing for college., And boy did they do that. You take 6 core subjects which are applied writing, maths, intro to higher education, Experiential learning communications and IT fundamentals. And two elective modules which ranged from sciences, business, art portfolio, social science and computer scienceI can only recall my experience with each module as tough, but extremely awarding.

Applied writing

This is taught by a top class lecturer who had a fantastic relationship with his students. This subject was superbly focused on understanding and practicing academic writing. Especially for anybody who has been out of practice with reading or writing.  This was a module that not only prepped me for my degree but was a subject that helped me understand that there is a lot more to just reading and writing. 


Again taught by a fantastic lecturer who had nothing but patience and great teaching skills to teach the class. The type of maths was aimed for people entering engineering but also included everyday maths. Touching off topics such as algebra, trig and calculus

IT Fundamentals

Was exactly that. Computers are now an integral part of life and especially for anybody entering college it is important to know how to create PowerPoint slides, essay templates. Excel spreadsheets and even some Photoshop. This was aimed at people of all levels of IT skills and was pretty much an ECDL course all wrapped up. 


A very important module and one that definitely prepared me for my degree. The Module teaches you all about soft skills. Learn how to present, public speaking and body language. One of the final assignments was to do a presentation on your degree programme you wanted to go on to study. Which proved to be entertaining and extremely helpful. 

Introduction to higher education

This was a fantastic module and ensures a class A prepared 3rd level student. This module is taught by an extremely knowledgeable lecturer. You learn the fundamentals on how to set goals, understand your type of intelligence and even write blogs among many other things. 

Experimental learning

This module is very underrated. One of the assignments was to go and research what degree you wanted to progress into. It's a fact that 40 percent of 3rd level students in Ireland drop out due to not researching what their degree programme is all about this module demystified this and makes you go into depth on what your degree programme is all about. 

Art portfolio preparation

Is a fun and different experience. This was a year-long module. I actually went into college thinking I wanted to peruse an art and design degree, but found another passion while I was on the course. Again another beauty about the AFP, it will show you many aspects of college and help you focus and discover what you are truly good at. By the end of the year I had completed an art portfolio and got offered places onto other art and design degree courses. 

Computer science

I never really understood this until I began studying it. I had a fantastic lecturer who was extremely passionate and knowledgeable about the subject. The course covered all of the major areas in computer science. Programming, Networking, Web development and Information Technology. This module was a particular interest of mine in which I went on to study my degree in. My overall experience of the Access Foundation Programme was truly amazing. I probably wouldn't be in college or studying what I found to be good it if it weren’t for the programme. This programme has helped me understand and progress into being a confident and successful student. It has put me spades ahead of many first years starting out. It taught me the most important principles in College and I highly recommend it to anybody. 

Advantages of Access foundation programme

·         Learn the most important principles of how to be successful student
·         Learn how to adapt to 3rd level education
·         Meet some great people
·         Get a year worth of valuable experience
·         Get a place on a degree programme based on your effort

I hope this article will be of some use to somebody and best of luck with your educational journey. If you are interested into this programme please visit 


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