The Back to Education Programme (BTEA) is run by the Department of Social Protection.
Detailed information on BTEA is available on-line from . Look for Back to Education Programme. This also includes the application form that has to be filled out and handed in to your Social Welfare Local Office.
Information is also available from any Social Welfare or Citizens Information Office.
This will tell you how to apply and if you qualify for this scheme.
Advantages of BTEA
- No signing on for the duration of the course
- Your weekly Social Welfare payment will be paid into a bank or post office account
- Earnings from part-time employment do not affect your BTEA payment, however it might affect Rent Allowance
All courses, except the CORE VTOS COURSES, are available under the BTEA scheme.
How to apply
- Fill out a college application form or apply online
- Attend an interview and, if you are eligible, you will be offered a course place
- Notify the Department of Social Protection by filling out the Back to Education Allowance application form (available online and at our social welfare local office)
- Pay your fees in the Admin office
- Attend Registration Day
- Get written confirmation that you have registered as a full-time student (this letter will be available from the Admin office in early September and only to students with Student ID cards)
- Return this letter to the section in the Department of Social Protection that deals with your payments. You will not get payment of BTEA until you give this confirmation letter to the Department.
What is VTOS?
VTOS is the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme which offers unemployed people the opportunity to return to full time education without losing their social welfare benefits.
Who is eligible?
To qualify for VTOS a person must:
- be at least 21 years of age at the start of the course
- be in receipt of an unemployment payment or signing for credits for at least 6 months ( 156 days )
Places are also available to persons in receipt of One Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance, Illness Benefit, Blind Pension, Invalidity Pension, Deserted Wife’s Benefit/Allowance, Widow’s/Widower’s Contributory/Non Contributory Pension and Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance and to qualified spouses/partners of persons eligible to participate in VTOS.
What about Money Matters?
Persons in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit receive a weekly training allowance equivalent to their existing personal rate of Jobseeker’s Benefit. This VTOS Training Allowance is paid by the ETB into the student’s bank account.
Persons in receipt of One Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance, Illness Benefit, Blind Pension, Invalidity Pension, Deserted Wife’s Benefit/Allowance, Widow’s/Widower’s Contributory/Non Contributory Pension and Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance continue to draw their payments in the normal way from the Department of Social Protection.
Persons signing for credits only may qualify to participate on a VTOS course. These participants do not receive a training allowance.
The spouse/partner of a person in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit may also qualify to join a VTOS course.
VTOS is not means tested. Therefore the rate of payment is not affected by any earnings/income received by the VTOS participant.
Benefits of VTOS
- there are no course fees
- VTOS students will receive books for some courses of study on a book loan scheme
- VTOS students are not required to sign-on at a Local Social Welfare Office while participating in the Scheme
- VTOS participants retain entitlement to their Social Welfare secondary benefits such as Medical Cards and Rent Allowance
- a small weekly Meal & Travel Allowance may be included
VTOS participants may be able to access subsidised childcare under the Childcare Education and Training Scheme (CETS)
How many years on VTOS?
VTOS is payable for a maximum of 2 years only. In circumstances where a person has undertaken a course that is in excess of 2 years while on VTOS, the Back to Education Second Level Option is payable for the remainder of the course.
When does VTOS start?
VTOS courses start in early September and run until early June.
What courses are available on VTOS?
Specific full-time courses are listed as VTOS specific – this list is subject to change and viewable on our applications portal.
How to apply
- Fill out a college application online (www.pearescollege.ie) or apply on FETCHCOURSES.ie
- Attend an interview and if you are eligible you will be offered a course place
- Fill out a VTOS APPLICATION FORM and return to the VTOS OFFICE
- After that you will be contacted by the College VTOS co-ordinator, Ciara Bowes Lowney, who will guide you through all additional procedures
Ciara Bowes Lowney VTOS co-ordinator: