Sources of information on returning to education

Adult learners returning to education

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.

You may be an early school leaver, unemployed or want to retrain for a new job. You can return to education on a full-time or part-time basis.

Help for adults returning to education

Education and Training Boards

Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are the main providers of adult education, through local schools and colleges. Community education groups offer a variety of courses for learners at all levels. Third-level colleges provide a range of courses too.

The right course

The online portal therightcourse has information on courses, how you can access them and supports available. It has information if you are on a social welfare payment.

Course options include apprenticeships, traineeships, short courses, degrees and Masters.

Adult Educational Guidance Services

The Adult Educational Guidance Services (AEGS) provides free career and education guidance to adults who want to return to education and training. It is managed by local ETBs.

The service is confidential and you can get one-to-one guidance or group guidance to help you make an informed decision about your education, career and life choices

The AEGS is also available to you if you are already registered on a course with an ETB.

National Centre for Guidance in Education

The National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE) is an agency of the Department of Education. Its role is to support and develop guidance practice in all areas of education such as schools, colleges and adult education and to inform the Department's policy on guidance in education. NGCE is not a guidance service for learners but, as a host of the Euroguidance Centre for Ireland, it provides advice and information to people who wish to study or train in another EU country.


AONTAS (the Irish National Association of Adult Education) provides 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.

The AONTAS One Step Up website helps 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 improve your reading, writing, maths or use of technology. You can learn with NALA in a group, one-to-one, online or over the phone.

You can contact NALA on freephone 1800 20 20 65 or text LEARN to 50050 and they will call you back.


Qualifax is the Irish national learners' database of all third-level and further education courses. It provides you with the information you need to make informed choices about your education, training and career path. It also has 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).

You can find information about admission requirements to state funded universities, technological universities (TUs) and institutes of technology (ITs) and colleges of further education on the Mature Students Ireland website.

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.

Adult Education Guidance Services

There is a list of locations by region.

National Centre for Guidance in Education

Avoca House,
189 - 193 Parnell Street,
Dublin 1
D01 P6X2,

Tel: (01) 869 0715/6

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
DO6 YF65

Tel: (01) 412 7900
Fax: (01) 497 6038
Page edited: 21 February 2022