Pre-university courses: A flexible pathway towards your chosen field

by Back To Work Connect May 11, 2022 No comments Blog

Whether you’re returning to education, upskilling for a new job or entering the world of third-level education for the first time, choosing a course can be a daunting task.

And, between high fees, a significant time commitment & the inevitable impact on your future career path, the pressure to make the right choice can be enormous.

Pre-university courses are an excellent way to explore a particular field before fully committing your time, energy and financial resources. Read on for our complete guide to choosing a pre-university course and learn about the many benefits associated with them. 

Firstly, what is a pre-university course?

A pre-university course is a short-term course (typically 12 months & under) designed to give students an introduction to their chosen field of study.

Who are they for?

The beauty of pre-university courses is that they are for everyone.

They are a flexible option for people, including;

  • Returners looking to upskill or reskill before re-entering the workforce
  • Job seekers who want to boost their resume with a new skill 
  • Students unsure of their path after secondary school
  • Self-employed/freelancers looking to learn new skills while running their business 
  • Busy parents looking to juggle education on a tight schedule
  • Life-long learners who want to explore a new topic and learn something new

Benefits of pre-university courses

Pre-university courses are a popular choice for one main reason: Flexibility.

They are designed to offer a sneak peek into the experience and structure of a third-level course but on a much shorter timeline (typically no longer than one year).

Amongst flexibility, choosing a pre-university course also comes with many other benefits, including;

  • Option to earn while you learn. Many pre-university courses are part-time with flexible timetables, allowing you to fit learning around your work or family commitments.
  • A chance to build confidence & brush up on specific skills before you delve into university life. Learners become familiar with routine college skills, including research skills, referencing, management of continuous assessment and assignment development.
  • Gain insight into student life. For those new to third-level education, pre-university courses can ease your transition and give you an insight into university life. 
  • Access to a broad view of your chosen field – pre-university courses are designed to give learners a foundational understanding of key skills and principles which can maximise their potential for success when they transition to third-level education.
  • Courses are short – typically no longer than one year. They also contain vocational placements, which is beneficial for UCAS applications.

How to choose the right pre-university course

With so many options, you might feel understandably overwhelmed and wonder how you can possibly pick the right course. To help ease your course selection stress, follow our top three tips for choosing a pre-university course: 

  1. Do your research: The great thing is that, today, most of the information you need about any course is at your fingertips. Course outlines, alumni reviews & FAQs are usually just a click away. 
  2. Reach out to the college: Most colleges are ready and eager to help prospective students & can address any concerns or questions. 
  3. Speak to previous students: Sometimes, the best insight you can get about a course is from those who have taken part in it before. Ask the college if any previous or existing students might be willing to chat with you about their experiences. 

Pre-university courses in Ireland 

If a pre-university course sounds like the right fit for you, here are some fantastic options available throughout Ireland:


Pre-University Science Lab. Techniques This course has been designed to meet the needs of a variety of students wishing to study Science, specifically those who did not satisfy the entry requirements for direct entry to a degree course, and adult returnees to education.


University Access Course This Liberal Arts programme aims to provide a foundation in subjects which students may wish to study at Third Level.  This course also introduces students to methods of study, writing skills and research skills that are required for successful participation in Third Level education.


Pre-Garda Studies The course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills associated with studying towards and working in Security, focusing on the requirements of An Garda Síochána. The course enables students to develop the practical and theoretical skills and knowledge required in their chosen area of work and study. Throughout their period of training, students complete work placements with recognised security companies at music concerts, sporting events and other public events.


Pre University Creative Media Are you a creative person with a great imagination and an interest in gaining a qualification in creative advertising and marketing communications? Then our Creative Advertising and Digital Marketing course is the right choice for you.


Pre-University: Business with Law This course provides a strong foundation for those students wishing to study Business and/or Accountancy, Legal or combination degree courses in TCD, UCD, DCU, TUD, NUI Maynooth and other Universities and has a superb record of student progression to third level.


Pre-emergency Services Studies The purpose of this award is to enable the learner to develop the knowledge, skills and competencies required to undertake a career in the primary emergency services such as An Garda Siochana, Ambulance or Fire Services.


Pre-University Nursing with Midwifery Option This one-year course will aim to prepare participants for work with people in a hospital, respite care, social care, community development or residential setting. Nurses need social, communication and caring skills to work with individuals and groups. Nursing Studies will lay a foundation for these skills and provide the work experience to put learning into practice.