Written answers

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Back to Education Allowance

Photo of Claire KerraneClaire Kerrane (Roscommon-Galway, Sinn Fein)
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1040. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will consider expanding the back to education allowance to include those progressing in third level education and undertaking masters' degrees or doctorates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15815/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The back to education allowance scheme (BTEA) provides people with a second chance education that will improve their prospects of securing employment.  It enables eligible people to pursue approved education courses and to continue to receive income support for the duration of a course of study, subject to meeting certain conditions.

The BTEA is not intended to provide a basis for a long-duration participation in extended education.  This approach is informed by research evidence.  Evidence from econometric studies shows that the 'lock-in' effect of long duration return to education programmes can exceed the progression effect and reduce employment prospects.

In limited cases post-graduate courses can be supported under this scheme. BTEA can be approved where the applicant intends to undertake studies leading to a Higher Diploma (H.Dip) in any discipline or the Professional Masters in Education.  Additionally BTEA support may be awarded for a Master’s degree based solely on life experience where the applicant holds no other third level qualification. 

The BTEA was never intended to be an alternative form of funding for people pursuing third level education.  The student universal support Ireland (SUSI) grant represents the primary support for persons pursuing education. 

I trust this clarifies the position at this time.


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