Returning to education with Springboard+

What is Springboard+?

Springboard+ provides free higher education courses if:

  • You are unemployed
  • You are looking to return to work

You can also apply for a Springboard+ course if you are working, but you must pay a 10% contribution towards the course fee (level 6 courses are free).

What courses can I do?

Springboard has part-time courses from certificate (level 6) to master's degree (level 9) on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

Most of the courses are part-time and last for one year or less, but there is an increasing number of full-time courses and 2-year courses. Most courses are delivered online or as blended learning that combines online and classroom learning.

Courses offered include:

  • Information and communications technology (ICT)
  • Medical technologies
  • Cybersecurity
  • Sustainable energy
  • Creative industries
  • Online retail

Find out more about the courses you can do with Springboard+.

Applications for Springboard+ courses for 2024-2025 are now open (see ‘How to apply’ below).

Am I eligible for Springboard+?

You can apply for Springboard+ if you are:

  • Unemployed
  • Employed
  • A recent graduate
  • Returning to education or work after being a carer or homemaker
  • Updating your ICT skills

You must:

If you have been granted International Temporary Protection in Ireland, you may also be eligible.

Places on Springboard+ courses are limited. People who are on a qualifying social welfare payment will have priority when places are allocated.

Read more about eligibility for Springboard+ below.

If you are unemployed

To qualify for a free Springboard+ course, you must:

  • Be unemployed
  • Be actively seeking work
  • Be available to take up work

Qualifying social welfare payments

When starting a Springboard+ course, you must either be getting a qualifying social welfare payment or be in one of the other eligible categories listed below.

Qualifying social welfare payments include:

You can also apply for Springboard+ if:

Employment support schemes

You are also eligible for Springboard+ (with approval from a Department of Social Protection Employment Personal Advisor) if you are on one of the following schemes or payments:

Is there an age limit?

Generally, there are no age restrictions unless you are a qualified adult on someone else’s social welfare payment. However, you must meet the eligibility criteria for both Springboard+ and your chosen course.

If you were previously self-employed

You are eligible for Springboard+ if you were previously self-employed but are now unemployed and actively seeking work. You don’t need to be getting a social welfare payment.

You must meet the residency criteria and provide a letter or statement from Revenue stating that you are no longer trading (or a similar letter from your former accountant).

If you are employed

If you are employed or self-employed, meet the nationality or visa requirements, and meet the residency requirements, you can apply to any available Springboard+ courses.

If you are a recent graduate

Only one-year full-time and 2-year part-time ICT skills conversion courses are open to recent graduates.

However, to participate on a NFQ level 9 (post-graduate) course, it must be at least one year since you completed your full-time undergraduate degree course (level 8).

If you are returning to education or work after being a carer or homemaker

You are eligible for Springboard+, if you have been out of the work environment due to childcare or other caring obligations and require upskilling or reskilling to get back to the workforce.

To qualify, you must meet the residency criteria and one of the following requirements:

  • You have been on home or other caring duties for 9 of the previous 12 months, or
  • You are economically dependent on a partner or spouse and have been unemployed for 9 of the previous 12 months

You must provide supporting documentation and swear a declaration before a Commissioner for Oaths (pdf) about your status.

If you want to do an ICT skills conversion course

An ICT skills conversion course is when you retrain to start a career in the technology sector.

If you were getting Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance for at least 9 of the previous 12 months, you may get a Back to Education Allowance while participating on a one-year, full-time ICT skills conversion course.

You are not eligible for a 2-year part-time ICT conversion course if:

  • You are getting a jobseeker’s payment (including Farm Assist)
  • You are a qualified adult of working age on someone else’s social welfare payment.

Springboard+ fees

Unemployed people

You do not have to pay any course fees or charges if you are unemployed.

If you take up a Springboard+ course, you can keep your existing social welfare payment if you continue to fulfil the conditions for the payment. If you have started a course and lose your qualifying social welfare payment, you can continue your course.

If you are getting a jobseeker’s payment and participating on a part-time Springboard+ course, you will continue to get your jobseeker’s payment under the Part-Time Education Option (PTEO).

If you are getting a jobseeker’s payment and you are on a full-time course, you may have the option to transfer to a Back to Education Allowance (BTEA).

If you take up a job while on a course, Springboard+ will fund the fees for the full academic year.

If your course extends into another academic year(s), the fees will be decided by your college.

Employed people

If you are employed, you must pay 10% towards the course fee at Level 7, 8 and 9 on the NFQ. However, Level 6 courses are free.

If you are getting the Working Family Payment (WFP), or if you are on a Community Employment Scheme at the start of the course, you will not have to pay the 10% course fee contribution.

Recent graduates

Recent graduates must pay 10% of the tuition fee for ICT skills conversion courses.

How to apply for Springboard+

Applications for Springboard+ 2024-2025 are now open.

To apply for a Springboard+ course, you choose the course(s) you are interested in on the Springboard+ website and apply online.

Please follow the instructions on the website.

If you are getting a social welfare payment, you should:

You can apply for up to 10 courses, but you can only take one course at a time.

More information

There are detailed frequently asked questions on the Springboard+ website. You can contact Springboard+ online.

If Springboard+ doesn’t meet your needs, there are several other ways to go back to education.

Page edited: 28 May 2024