Saturday 24 February 2018

The Back to Education Allowance eases a return to full-time study

At the start of the last week in January, those prospective applicants who have not yet applied to CAO will surely know that the closing date for applications is this day week, February 1.

This column constantly stresses the importance for prospective applicants to have up to date information. On CAO's website, course changes are listed on a page called "Important changes", which you can find if you click on 'Handbook' on the left hand menu. This list shows new courses which have been introduced since the 2010 handbook was printed, but for which application may be made this year. It also lists a number of courses that appear in the 2010 handbook, but which have been cancelled.

Two recent developments may be of interest to some applicants; one relates to new opportunities for applicants of sporting prowess, the other affects applicants returning to full-time education.

Q I am hoping to return to full-time education, and to avail of the Back to Education Allowance scheme. I have heard that there has been some change to the scheme. Where can I find out more?

A It is correct a change has been announced in the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA), which allows people in receipt of certain social welfare payments to retain those payments whilst participating in approved full-time courses in further and higher education.

The BTEA allows qualifying persons to return to full-time education in approved courses while continuing to get income support. Approved programmes range from foundation courses to postgraduate courses.

Participants receive a standard rate of payment that is not means-tested.

However, from 2010, BTEA recipients are no longer eligible for the maintenance grant, although they are eligible to apply to have the Student Services Charge paid on their behalf under the maintenance grant schemes.

Income from part-time work does not affect the basic BTEA payment. BTEA is not an unemployment payment and participants are not required to 'sign on'.

You can check the main conditions of the BTEA scheme on the website,

Meanwhile, students who are keen sportsmen and women will be interested to hear that UCD has established a new Elite Athlete Academy programme. The Academy is a new scholarship programme for students who wish to compete and succeed at the highest sporting levels while attaining a degree in UCD. The Elite Athlete Academy supports high calibre athletes and allows them to reach their maximum potential inside and outside the classroom.

The closing date for receipt of applications is next Monday, February 1. Application forms and further information can be obtained from

The UCD Elite Athlete Academy programme is being run in addition to existing UCD Sports Scholarship programmes, more information about which can be found at:

Returning to the topic of cancelled courses in the CAO handbook, sometimes an applicant should look a little further into why a course may have been cancelled. It may just be that a specific entry route has closed. Take course CW526, the Higher Certificate in Aircraft Systems (Avionics & Airframe) in IT Carlow, which appears on the cancelled courses list.

Although there will be no intake on this HC course in September 2010, applicants will find what they are looking for in IT Carlow's Ordinary Bachelor Degree, Level 7, CW507 Level 7 (three-year ordinary degree) B. Eng. in Aircraft Systems. This course will run in 2010/11, starting in September 2010.

This B. Eng. programme has a Higher Certificate embedded within the programme so students can always opt out if they wish with a Higher Certificate after successfully completing two years.

Irish Independent

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