Supporting You to Get Back to Education
Do you feel like you have no time, space, or funding to go back to learning?
Do you feel like learning is not accessible to you?
Here’s a list of support services that might help
You may be able to receive a student grant through the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) fund. To see if you are eligible, you can use their free eligibility calculator on their website: SUSI information
Apart from evening courses, all FET training courses are free. If you are planning on doing a Further Education and Training (FET) course, you may be able to get a training allowance while you complete this course. To see if you qualify, check out this information page: FET allowance
Youthreach is another option to receive funding while learning. This is for people who left school without any formal qualifications. It can help you get work experience and the opportunity to get different QQI certificates. They are offered by your local Education and Training Board and your local Community Training Centre. To see if you qualify for these programmes, visit this website: Youthreach information
If you are over 21 years of age, are unemployed, and have been receiving certain social welfare payments over the last 6 months, you may qualify for the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS). You can get a VOTS allowance while completing a full-time education course. Find out more here: VTOS information
The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is available to people who are unemployed, people parenting alone, and people who have different abilities. This allowance lets you be involved in a full-time course while keeping your social welfare payments. To find out more, contact your local Intreo Centre or follow this link: Back to Education Allowance information page
Another option if you're unemployed is the Part-Time Education Option. You may be able attend a part-time course while keeping your Job Seeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit. Contact your local Intreo Centre to see if you qualify. You can also find out more here: Back to Education - Part-time Education Option
If you have a job and want to get involved in a course, there is not a fund or allowance you can apply for. Instead, you can claim tax relief for your course fees. This is available to repeat, postgraduate and part-time students. To find out more, visit the Revenue website: Personal tax credits, reliefs and exemptions
Another support service if you're unemployed is the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU). They can help you with information on social welfare rights and welfare to work information to those who are unemployed. Visit their website: INOU
You can also reach out to your education provider for information on specific funding. They will let you know what financial supports there are for being a mature student, a student with different abilities, being an asylum seeker or a refugee.
If you are taking part in a course or are training in an apprenticeship, you may be able to get help with paying for childcare. This is done through the National Childcare Scheme (NCS). You can learn more about it here: National childcare scheme FAQ page
Childcare support is available in Tusla registered childcare services. They also include registered childminders. You can find these childcare options by using the NCS's search tool: Childcare Service Search
To get involved in a community education course, get in touch with your local Education and Training Board (ETB) ETB or community education centre. They will be able to give you information on when the courses in your area begin. You find more information in the "how to apply for adult education" section of this webpage: Adult Education
If you are wanting to start a Further Education and Training (FET) Traineeship Programme or a Specific Skills Training, you should get in touch with your local Intreo centre. They'll help you register and pick a course that best suits your needs. You kind find out more here: FET training courses
Applications for undergraduate courses in universities and institutes of technology are done through the Central Applications Office (CAO) portal. To find out more, follow this link: College application and entrance requirements
If you need help getting to and from a centre, check with Local Link to see what public transportation options are close to you at this website: Local Link
You can also reach out to your education centre and see if they offer help with transport.
If you are aged 66 and over, are a person with different abilities, or are a carer, you may qualify for the Free Travel scheme. You can learn more about it here: Free travel in Ireland
You can link in with AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability) to get support with college applications and college life. Find out more here: Accessing College
AHEAD also provide The WAM (Willing Able Mentoring) programme. If you have graduated, this programme can help you get a mentored work placements in companies. Follow this link to find out more about the programme: the WAM programme
Another place where you can get support is the National Learning Network (NLN). They have flexible training programmes and can offer you specialist support if you need it. More information is available here: NLN website
Support for people with Dyslexia:
The Dyslexia Association of Ireland (DAI) has a useful website where you can read or listen to information on services for people affected by dyslexia. You can find out more here: DAI info hub
You can get support from One Family. They offer supports to one-parent families with a wide range of financial supports including accredited courses and a career clinic. Find out more here: Supports and Resources
You can also link in with your local family resource centre. They offer you support by linking you in with local people and helping you be a part of a supportive community. To find a centre near you, check out the Family Resource Centre National Forum website: Service map
If you are over the age of 55 and need support using a computer, tablet, or smart phone, you can get involved in Age Action's computer training programme. Find out more information here: Get Started Computer Training
You can also get involved in the University of the Third Age network (U3A). This is for older adults who may have retired or your caring responsibilities have lessened. It is an educational and social gathering where members of the group teach each other and learn from each other. To find a group near you, follow this link: U3A List of Locations
Age & Opportunity have a programme called Engage that offers a range of learning initiatives, courses, and workshops. Check out this link for more information: Engage Initiatives
The National Learning Network (NLN) can help you with education and training support if you are finding it difficult to gain employment. You can also get support from them if you have an illness, a disability, or need extra support. The NLN have centres all over the country. Each centre can help you get work experience, get a QQI qualification, help with employment, or help you go on to further education.
You can find resources, webinars, meditation guides, and a map of support services on the Mental Health Ireland website: Mental Health Ireland
If you need to talk to someone, Mental Health Ireland have a number of helplines on their website that you can contact for confidential non-judgemental support: Need Help Now
If you want one-to-one support, you can get this for free from the Adult Education Guidance service that runs through your local Education and Training Board (ETB). The kinds of support you can get include:
- Support in exploring your Further Education and Training (FET) options
- Help with college applications or finding funding for your course
- Support with creating your CV or preparing for an interview
To find out more about the kinds of support they offer, you can check out the Education and Training Board Ireland (ETBI) website: Learner Supports
The EPIC (Employment for People from Immigrant Communities) programme is for people who have recently made Ireland their home and would like to find employment or training opportunities. They can help you with pre-employment training, One-to-One support and opportunities for work experience. Find out more here: EPIC Programme
If you are going through the asylum process, you can link in with the Irish Refugee Council. They have an information booklet that explains the education system in Ireland. They also have an Education Fund that can help you with things like course fees, transportation costs and course materials. You can find more information about the fund and the booklet here: Irish Refugee Council Education Fund
If you can’t travel to an education centre on a regular basis, there are plenty of options for learning online. We’ve included a few of them below.
The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) offer free online courses in reading, writing, maths, computer skills and more. You can study at your own pace and in your own time. To find a course, you can go to NALA’s website: Learn with NALA
Springboard+ offers free and low-cost courses. Some of them are fully online or blended, which means sometimes you will be studying online and sometimes you will be going in person. The types of courses offered include information and communications technology (ICT) engineering, construction, getting qualifications for skilled work, and many more. To find an online or blended course through Springboard+, follow this link: Search Springboard courses
Another online option you can explore is eCollege. They offer free courses to anyone over 18 in business, computer skills, graphic design, and more. They also offer short courses to help you get started with online learning. Follow this link to check out what courses they have available: eCollege courses
If you register with your local library, you can access online courses through UniversalClass. There are over 400 courses available such as creative writing, history, pet and animal care, and much more. To find out more, visit this website: UniversalClass courses
You can also look for online classes through this website: