The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) provides income support for jobseekers and others in receipt of certain social welfare payments who pursue courses of education at second or third level. As part of the Government’s commitment under the Pathways to Work strategy, my Department has a provision of approximately €105.4m in supports under the BTEA for 2022.
A person wishing to pursue a course of study under the BTEA scheme must satisfy several conditions, including being in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment for a specified time, pursuing a full-time course of study leading to a recognised qualification in a recognised college and progressing in the level of education.
The qualifying period for the second-level option is three months while the qualifying period for third-level courses is nine months prior to the date of commencement of the course. This qualifying period has been waived for people coming directly from the Pandemic Unemployment Payment where they must first establish an entitlement to a qualifying payment. There are no further plans to amend the BTEA criteria.
The conditions under which the BTEA operate are designed to support customers into employment. People who are on and off the Pandemic Unemployment payment are already in employment and are being temporarily laid off as a result of the impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) Grant, payable by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, represents the primary support for people pursuing third level education.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.