Given the current economic climate, it is not surprising that many students are considering continuing on to further postgraduate study

Given the current economic climate, it is not surprising that many students who are graduating from university and other third-level colleges are considering continuing on to further postgraduate study, rather than entering into the hunt for employment straight after graduation.

Surveys conducted by postgradireland.com show that the majority of graduates feel nervous and pessimistic about their job chances, although there are still many opportunities out there.

About 2000 students are expected to attend today's student fair in the RDS in Dublin. Over twice the number who attended the same event last year are expected to attend.

The postgradireland fair is an official event of third-level college career services in Ireland and it is organised annually in association with Graduate Careers Ireland (GCI), the professional association for careers services in higher education in Ireland, north and south.

GCI fosters co-operation among the individual careers services, producing a range of careers publications and services for students and graduates.

GCI also undertakes collaborative activities involving employers, public bodies and academic staff. Gradireland.com and postgradireland.com are official careers websites of the guidance services in Ireland.

In advance of the fair, postgradirland.com ran a poll, asking respondents why they were interested in continuing to postgraduate study. About 31pc of respondents said they were doing so to delay looking for a job, while 30pc said they needed the additional qualification. About 19pc responded that they were doing it to increase their earning capacity, while around 17pc of respondents said they were taking a postgraduate course because they loved the subject they were studying.

Postgraduate course providers from as far away as Australia and New Zealand will attend today's fair, as well as many UK colleges, and all the major Irish colleges. The fair will offer sessions on how to choose the right course. All those who attend will receive copies of the postgradireland directory.

Questions about funding are always important, particularly at postgraduate level. Tuition fees are charged for most postgraduate courses, and can range from €1500 for some ICT courses to €4000 for many research or taught masters programmes. Some of the business post-graduate courses charge substantially higher fees.

There are many different funding schemes, particularly in targeted areas. The Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Embark Awards from the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology are very important for students seeking funding in these two areas.

The Graduate Skills Conversion Programme (GSCP) is a joint initiative with the Department of Education and Science and the Higher Education Authority, in response to the information and communications technology (ICT) skills needs identified by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and the mid-term evaluation of the ATS programme. It is funded under the National Development Plan.


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