Nursing Opportunities in Ireland and UK

Well done to Dunboyne College of Further Education on hosting a really informative session on nursing opportunities. The college treated local guidance counsellors to a delicious lunch and an opportunity to both learn about nursing prospects in Ireland and the UK, and to network with fellow guidance counsellors. It was a very valuable and engaging afternoon.

The high points required for nursing studies in Ireland is unattainable for many wannabe nurses.  Many hopeful nurses take the backdoor entry route through achieving a FETAC qualification in Pre-Nursing with the hope of gaining entry into a degree in nursing through the Higher Education Links Scheme. But due to huge competition many applicants are disappointed.  Up until now the option of studying nursing in the UK was a viable and attractive route for those unsuccessful in getting a college place in Ireland. But now with the removal of the NHS bursary for nursing and the unknown implications of Brexit, the option of travelling to the UK to train as a nurse isn’t as attractive as before.

Dunboyne CFE offer a pre-nursing course. The Careers staff in the college have put a lot of research into finding nursing opportunities for graduates.  They travelled to the UK and have linked up with a college in Brstol, University of West England. who deliver the new Associate Nursing Apprenticeship and are keen to take on Irish applicants. So what is the Associate Nursing Apprenticeship?

Having removed the funding the Health Education England (HEE) have made 1,000 places available for Nursing Associate Apprenticeships. This sounds like great news but the only catch is that you must be a member of NHS staff to avail of this programme. Of course this poses challenges for Irish students. There is the option of completing a Pre-Nursing course and working as a Health Care Assistant for the NHS and then apply for the apprenticeship. Obviously this would be a significantly longer career path. The apprenticeship also leads to a State Enrolled Nurse status and not the more desirable Registered Nurse. Another barrier for students to overcome.

The HSE likewise offers Nursing Apprenticeships. These are open to HSE staff who have been employed in a role that directly works with patients for at least two years. The applicants must be 23 or over and they apply as mature students through the CAO system. Successful applicants continue with their HSE job whilst training and all college fees are funded by the HSE.

So what if a student can’t get the 400+ points for a Nursing Degree in Ireland. What are their options.

  1. Complete a Pre-Nursing course in a PLC college and re-apply through CAO to compete for a reserved FETAC student place.
  2. Apply for Nursing in Scotland where there are still free fees for Irish students.
  3. Apply for Nursing in Northern Ireland where fees are approx £4,000 (sterling) per year.
  4. Apply for Nursing in England or Wales where fees are £9,000 (sterling) per year.
  5. Reapply to CAO as a mature student.
  6. Complete a Pre-Nursing course in a PLC college and work as a Health Care Assistant until you can apply for Nursing as a Mature student through the HSE Nursing Apprenticeship programme.
  7. Work as a Health Care Assistant for the NHS and apply for a place on the Nursing Associate Apprenticeship.

Regardless of what route you choose, if you are unsuccessful in getting a place on a Nursing programme in Ireland it is a really good idea to spend a year completing a Pre-Nursing course in a PLC college. It will prepare you for a career in nursing and you will definitely know at the end of the year if this is the career you want to pursue!

Image Reference: Image courtesy of stockimages at




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