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.

The online portal therightcourse has information on courses, how you can access them, supports available and 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) are managed by the 16 ETBs.

The ETB AEGS are a free and confidential service available nationwide providing impartial careers and education information, one-to-one guidance and group guidance, which help adults who wish to return to education and training, or are already registered on an FET programme within the ETBs to make informed educational, career and life choices.

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 role is to support and develop guidance practice in all areas of education such as schools, colleges and adult education and to inform the policy of the Department in the field of guidance. 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) 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).

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: 19 January 2021