Affordable Higher Education: Government-funded Courses in Ireland & Funding Options for Students


Higher education can be expensive and inaccessible for some individuals, but in Ireland, the government has implemented different types of funded academic and training programs to make education more affordable and accessible for everyone. This blog will provide an overview of government-funded courses, financial aid options, their benefits, and tips on the application processes.


Types of Government-Funded Courses in Ireland

There are many different types of government-funded academic and training programmes in Ireland including: 

  • Vocational Training Opportunity Schemes (VTOS): If you are a jobseeker in Ireland this course helps you to come back to full-time academic activities. The different courses under VTOS are designed so that they meet the training and education requirements of unemployed youth in Ireland.
  • Back to Education Programmes: These programmes help individuals with opportunities to go back to full-time or part-time academic activities while continuing to receive monetary support, such as back to education allowances or social welfare payments. To avail of these courses, you must be receiving social welfare payments and meet other specific criteria.
  • FET courses: Further Education and Training courses are offered to candidates who want to upgrade or develop their skills, particularly in the industrial and commercial sectors. Most FET courses are free of cost and are offered to students if they are unemployed. The students pursuing these courses can obtain allowances based on certain criteria.
  • WPEP: Work Placements and Experiences Programmes offer job-related experiences to the candidate if they have no previous experience or have lost their job. To avail of this program, the candidate must be obtaining social welfare payments. Candidates eligible for this program are entitled to obtain weekly WPEP allowances.
  • Springboard+: Springboard courses offer eligible candidates the opportunity to avail of free or highly-subsidised higher education. Candidates pursuing a Springboard course are entitled to keep their social welfare payments while the course is being imparted to them.
  • Human Capital Initiative (HCI): These courses are aimed at supporting upskilling and reskilling for individuals in priority skills areas where there is a skills shortage, such as information and communications technology (ICT), cybersecurity, and data analytics.
  • Skills for Works: This course provides education and training options for those who are engaged in full-time and part-time jobs. This course helps students to enhance fundamental skills that are required in the workplace such as IT skills, literacy, and numeracy.
  • Youth-Reach: If you are aged between 15 and 20 years, if you have stopped going to school and do not hold any formal qualifications this programme helps you to obtain personal development, basic education, and work experiences as well as vocational training.
  • FIT: FIT, or Fast track to IT, is a training program that is offered to individuals in Ireland who are obtaining various social welfare payments. The courses that are offered under this training program incorporate programming, web designing, PC maintenance, and broadband communications.

Financial Aid Options for Government-Funded Courses 

There are many financial aid options available for students thinking of pursuing higher education. Financial aid can be used to help cover tuition fees and living expenses, and other education-related costs when studying. 

Some of these include:

  • Back to Education Allowance for Full-Time Education (BTEA) - If you are getting certain social welfare payments, you may be eligible to take part in second or third level full-time education and receive a weekly Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) payment.
  • Part-Time Education Option (PTEO) - The Part-Time Education Option (PTEO) allows you to keep your Jobseeker’s Allowance or Benefit while you attend a part-time day, evening, distance or online education or training course. Part-time courses provided such as those from Education and Training Boards (ETBs), Springboard+,  and others are available through this option.
  • Education, Training,  and Development Option (ET&D) - The Education, Training and Development Option (ET&D) allows you to keep your jobseekers payment while taking part in a shorter duration course. These include personal development courses, basic education, such as literacy classes, general training courses and training for specific job skills. 
  • Community Employment Scheme (CE) - The Community Employment Programme (CE) combines work in the community with personalised training and development. You can receive an individual learning plan where specific training is identified for you. There are a range of recognised QQI Awards available through this programme. Details of recognised courses are available on
  • Training Support Grant (TSG) - If you have a skills gap that could prevent you from applying for a job, the Training Support Grant (TSG) funds quick access to short-term training if you are on a jobseekers payment.A grant of up to €1,000 is available towards the cost of your course where similar courses are not currently available free of charge from other programmes and agencies such as SOLAS or the Education and Training Boards (ETBs).

Benefits of Government-Funded Courses and Financial Aid

Government-funded courses and financial aid can offer several benefits for individuals seeking higher education in Ireland. By participating in fully or partially-funded courses in emerging industries, students can access career advancement opportunities and potentially increase their earning potential. Furthermore, government-funded courses help make quality education more accessible and affordable, while financial aid can expand opportunities for students who may not otherwise be able to afford higher education.

How to Apply for Government-Funded Courses and Financial Aid

Each course and provider have different application processes so be sure to check the website of the course you are interested in applying for to know exactly what you will need to do to apply for their programme. 

For instance, to apply for a Springboard+/HCI course with Innopharma Education you will need to make a Springboard account if you do not already have one. Once you have completed this you will need to complete the application form for your chosen course. Be sure to have your CV ready because you will need to upload this with your application.  

To prepare a strong application ensure you have all required personal information and documentation ready before applying. The quicker, and more accurately you get your application in, the faster it can be processed by the Admissions Team.

Common mistakes to avoid in the application include spelling your name incorrectly or not having required documentation such as a CV or academic transcripts ready to upload. When applying on the Springboard+ website, ensure your application is ‘Submitted’ or the Innopharma Education Admissions Team will not be able to review your application.


If you are interested in pursuing government-funded programmes with Innopharma Education, please contact us at or 01 485 3346. A member of our team will be happy to discuss your options.

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