I'm a dependant on my spouses social welfare claim, am I eligible to apply for VTOS?
If your spouse is in receipt of a social welfare claim for more than 6 months immediately before the beginning of the VTOS course in September, you are eligible as their spouse to apply for VTOS.
I receive an illness benefit payment, am I eligible for VTOS?
Yes, if your payment is continuous for 6 months immediately prior to starting the VTOS course. You must however, get permission from the relevant social welfare department.
I am transitioning from a Lone Parent Payment to a Jobseekers Transition payment, am I eligible for VTOS?
Yes. Your local social welfare office will issue you a specific form that the VTOS coordinator will complete to show that you have successfully applied for the course. The ETB will then take over your payment once you have transitioned to the new payment. You will be paid by the ETB for the duration of the course.
I need help with childcare, can I avail of the CETS scheme while on VTOS?
Yes, the CETS scheme is available to students on VTOS courses. Once you have accepted your place on a VTOS course you will be issued with a letter that states you are eligible for a part time, full time or after school care CETS provision. You then take this letter to a childcare facility that operates under the CETS scheme and they will take it from there.
Do I have to buy books?
No all books and class materials are provided free of charge to all course participants.
Do I need to have good IT skills?
It is recommended that you are familiar with word processing software for typing your assignments. As all of the VTOS courses are QQI level 5, all assignments must be typed. You should be able to use the internet for research purposes and have be able to use email to send assignments.
What happens if I or one of my family members falls ill while on the course?
If you fall ill while on the course or one of your family members falls ill while on the course that is no problem. You will be asked to supply a doctor’s note to explain your absence. If the illness continues and you are unable to finish the course you may be able to apply for the course in the future.
Should I buy a laptop for the course?
Access to computer equipment is available while on the course. However, the laptops are shared and may be difficult to use if they are booked for a class by a tutor. It is recommended that you can access computers or laptops at home. You can print your assignments and research while in class. It is not recommended that you use smartphones to type assignments.
Am I expected to find my own work experience?
Yes you are expected to find your own work experience. All VTOS courses have a work experience requirement as follows
- Business Administration QQI Level 5 – 60 hours
- Early Childhood Care and Education QQI Level 5 – 120 hours
- Healthcare – 150 hours
- Beauty Therapy – 120 hours
We advise students to begin looking for their work experience placement a couple of weeks into the course. Some students have gained employment with their work experience provider after the course so it is a very valuable experience. Students are expected to write daily work experience journals which is a requirement for their course work.
What happens if I can’t complete an assignment by an expected deadline?
Students that are having trouble completing assignments are expected to speak to their tutors. A request for an extension may sometimes be granted, depending on circumstances. All tutors are understanding of the challenges that face adult learners returning to education and will support your learning in every way possible. Students are given the opportunity to work on assignments in class and to ask questions about their work.
What holidays do we have during the academic year?
Mid terms, Christmas and Easter holidays are the same as secondary schools. This allows students some time to rest and sometimes to complete work experience or assignments. Students are provided with a course calendar at the beginning of the course.
What is the timetable for VTOS?
VTOS is a full time course, Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 14.00 pm (approximately, this may change from year to year). Each course has a work placement day timetabled into the weekly schedule. A timetable is provided to each student at the beginning of the course.
Is parking provided at the VTOS centres?
Unfortunately, there are no parking facilities at the VTOS centres. Students need to be mindful of this when travelling to their course.
When do we graduate?
All course work must be completed before the end of the course for students to be eligible to graduate. Graduation for all full award courses takes place in the February after the coursework is monitored by an external examiner.
Can I repeat a year in VTOS?
It is very rare for a student to be able to repeat a year in VTOS.
What happens if I don’t agree with a result that I have received on one of the modules on the course?
Students are provided with feedback on their assignments throughout the year so students will be aware of how to improve their work. If however, you are not satisfied with a module result you may appeal the mark. This does not necessarily mean that your grade will be changed. Your grade may be upgraded or reduced following an appeal.
Who corrects my work?
Tutors correct all assignments, projects, skills demonstrations and practical work. Coursework is then examined by an internal invigilator, usually not a tutor working on the course. Following this an external examiner, recommended by QQI, examines coursework.
What facilities are available in the VTOS centres?
Printing and photocopying facilities are provided to students free of charge. If you are a childcare or healthcare student, your classes take place in a new prefab located on the grounds of the Balbriggan Community College. The prefab has a small kitchen that students can use to make lunch. There are limited canteen facilities in Sarsfield house.
I would like to apply to further or third level colleges, can VTOS help me do this?
Yes. VTOS students have guidance support throughout the year. This involves determining whether you are choosing the correct course for your future plans, financial support information, CAO form filling on paper and online, SUSI grant applications and more.