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Sources of information on returning to education


Many people including early school leavers, unemployed people and those who want to retrain for a new job may be interested in returning to education on a full-time or part-time basis. If you are interested in returning to education, there are a number of organisations and resources where you can get information about the courses available to you.

Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are the main providers of adult education, through local schools and colleges. (Vocational Educational Committees (VECs) were replaced by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) on 1 July 2013.) Community education groups offer a variety of courses, catering for learners at all levels. Third-level colleges provide a wide range of courses too.

In 2014, the FÁS training division (including FÁS courses) transferred to the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) which replaced VECs.


AONTAS (the Irish National Association of Adult Education) promotes adult education and lifelong learning. AONTAS operates an information and referral service which aims to make the adult learner's first encounter with education as easy as possible.

AONTAS provides the One Step Up website to help all adults to enhance their learning by promoting access to learning opportunities. It provides a freephone helpline, answers to frequently asked questions and a calendar of learning events.

National Adult Literacy Agency

The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) is a voluntary organisation that aims to ensure all adults with literacy difficulties have access to high quality learning opportunities. NALA can help you to improve your reading, writing or maths. You can learn with NALA in a group, one-to-one, online or over the phone.


Qualifax is the Irish national database of all third-level and further education courses. It provides the information you need to make informed choices about your education, training and career path. It also provides a list of Adult Guidance Services.

Guide for mature students

You can find detailed information about college requirements and supports for mature students in the Mature Student Directory of Irish Third-Level Institutions (pdf).

National Centre for Guidance in Education

The National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE) is an agency of the Department of Education and Skills. Its main role is to support people providing guidance in all areas of education such as schools, colleges and adult education. It is responsible for the Adult Educational Guidance Initiative it provides personal, educational and career guidance to participants in VTOS, adult and community education programmes. In general, NCGE is not a guidance service for individuals but it does provide advice and information to people who wish to study or train in another EU country.

Where to apply

For more details about adult education you should contact your local Education and Training Board.

For information about training courses you should contact your local Intreo office or local employment services office.

AONTAS-The National Association of Adult Education

2nd Floor
83-87 Main Street
Dublin 6

Tel:(01) 406 8220/1
Fax:(01) 406 8227

National Adult Literacy Agency

Sandford Lodge
Sandford Close
Dublin 6

Tel:(01) 412 7900
Fax:(01) 497 6038

National Centre for Guidance in Education

Fitzwilliam Court,
Leeson Close,
Dublin 2,

Tel:(01) 869 0715
Fax:(01) 88 2317

Page edited: 16 April 2014



Related Documents

  • Adult education
    This document gives an overview of the different types of education available to adults outside the school system.
  • Adult literacy
    The adult literacy service provided by the 16 Educational and Training Boards aims to help adults with reading and writing difficulties.
  • Looking for work: education and training
    If you are unemployed there is a range of different education and training opportunities. These include courses specifically for unemployed people.

Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.