Back to Education Initiative


The Back To Education Initiative (BTEI) provides part-time further education courses mainly for people who have not completed the Leaving Certificate or an equivalent qualification.

It gives individuals the opportunity to combine learning with family, work and other responsibilities. Anyone who has left full-time education can take part in a course, but priority will be given to those with less than upper second-level education.

BTEI courses are usually level 3 and 4 on the National Qualification Framework (NFQ). The BTEI allows people to study part-time (up to 400 hours per year). It is possible to obtain a major award at NFQ levels 1-6 where part-time courses are undertaken on a modular basis over time and combined to complete a major award.


The Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) provides part-time courses for adults and young people aged over 16 who left school with few or no formal qualifications or low literacy levels.

The groups prioritised for participation in the BTEI are listed in the Back to Education Initiative Operational Guidelines (pdf). Within these groups, priority is given to those most educationally disadvantaged.

You can also take part in BTEI if you are working and on a low income. The aim is to give people an opportunity to combine their learning with family, work and other commitments.

The participants eligible for free tuition are people who (or their dependants):

All other participants are charged a fee. For information about fees, you should contact your local Education and Training Board.


In general, a training allowance is not paid, but a pro-rata training allowance may be paid to a participant that has no entitlement to a social welfare payment but is eligible for Youthreach.

If you are getting a social welfare payment, you may keep your payment and participate in BTEI as long as you continue to satisfy the conditions attached to your payment. If you are getting a jobseeker’s payment you will need to apply for the Part-Time Education Option.

How to apply

For further information on BTEI options in your area, contact the Guidance Officer at your local Education and Training Board (ETB) and the local Adult Guidance Service. You can also search for courses funded by SOLAS near you on the Further Education and Training Course Hub .

Where to apply

Apply to your local Education and Training Board.

The ETB provides opportunities for adult learners and early school-leavers who want to upgrade their skills.

Page edited: 8 July 2019