Tertiary education programme

What is the tertiary education programme?

The tertiary education programme is a new way to get a degree at third level.

How the programme works:

  1. You start your course in a further education college, usually an Education and Training Board (ETB). You will attend the ETB for 1 to 2 years depending on your course. There are no fees when you attend an ETB.
  2. You then progress to third level to complete your degree in a higher education college or university. There are course fees when you move to third level, but you may qualify for free fees and a student grant.

All courses lead to a degree at Level 7 or 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

Step-back awards recognising the learning completed can be provided to students who don’t finish the programme.

Do I need Leaving Cert or CAO points?

No. You do not apply through the CAO and you do not need the same Leaving Certificate points. However, there are entry requirements to get on a course with the Tertiary education programme. Each course has its own entry requirements.

You can find out about the course and the entry requirements from the course provider or coordinator. They can give you more information about what you might need to include with your application.

What course can I do with the tertiary education programme?

Over 40 different courses starting in 2024.

These courses include degrees in:

  • Business
  • Nursing
  • Engineering
  • Construction
  • Music and Sound Production
  • Software Development

You can find out more about the courses available as part of the tertiary education programme and where they take place.

Contact the Adult Educational Guidance and Information Service for guidance on all the education options available to you, including the tertiary education programme.

Tertiary course fees

You start your course in a further education college, usually an Education and Training Board (ETB). There is no tuition fee or student contribution to pay during your course in the ETB.

When you progress to a third-level college, tuition fees and the student contribution fee will apply.

You should check if you qualify for free fees or a student grant. Other financial supports for people returning to full-time education include the student assistance fund and Back to Education Allowance.

How to apply for a tertiary course?

Applications for courses in 2024-2025 will open from 1 February 2024 until 27 September 2024.

You can find more information about applying for courses on the National Tertiary Office (NTO) website. You can also follow the National Tertiary Office on social media for updates.

Page edited: 1 February 2024