The focus of the back to education allowance (BTEA) is to assist those who are most marginalised and distant from the labour market to acquire the necessary education to improve their chances of becoming independent of the social welfare system.
The back to education scheme covers a large range of full-time courses of education in approved colleges spanning basic foundation courses to third level courses across all disciplines. Courses may be pursued up to a higher diploma level in any discipline and to a professional diploma in education hitherto known as a post graduate diploma in education [level 8 in the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)]. BTEA will not usually be approved if a person holds a qualification equivalent to or higher than the qualification for which the application has been received. Other postgraduate qualifications (level 9 or level 10) are not included.
However, a small number of cases have arisen where a college has granted an exemption from the requirement to hold a primary degree and has admitted a person to a Master's course, which is level 9 in the NFQ, on the basis of relevant life experience. In the context of the ongoing monitoring of the operation of the scheme, it has been decided to extend entitlement to the back to education allowance in these instances on an exceptional basis.