- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Information Leaflet & Application form
- 1.3 Legislation
- 1.4 Administration
- 1.5 Description of Scheme
- 1.6 Study Options Available
- 1.7 Second Level Option
- 1.8 Third Level Option
- 1.9 Qualifying Conditions for SLO & TLO
- 1.10 Progression in Education
- 1.11 Linking periods
- 1.12 Other Schemes that count towards the qualifying period for BTEA
- 1.13 Time spent on Illness Benefit and other payments.
- 1.14 Special Provisions
- 1.15 BTEA Disqualifications
- 1.16 Rates of Payment
- 1.17 Revised Decisions
- 1.18 Cost of Education Allowance (abolished since 1/1/2013)
- 1.19 Extra Benefits.
- 1.20 Back to Education Allowance and Maintenance Grants
2. CLAIMS, DOCUMENTATION AND DECISIONS PROCEDURES:
- 2.1 Claims
- 2.2 Timing of Application
- 2.3 Documentation
- 2.4 Decisions:
3. PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD:
5. Reviews & Appeal of Decision
6. TLA System
7. Methods of payment
8. Duration of payment.
9. On going review of entitlement.
10. CONTROL & CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES
APPENDIX 1 - Information Leaflet (SW70) & Application Form (BTE1) available from.
APPENDIX 2 - Relevant changes to TLO/SLO & BTEA since 1990
APPENDIX 3 – National Framework of Qualifications & Awards
The Department of Social Protection provides a wide range of second chance education opportunities for unemployed people, lone parents and people with disabilities.
The Department's objective in this area is to raise educational and skills levels among the unemployed, in order to help them to meet the requirements of the labour market. Studies have shown that there is a strong link between unemployment and educational attainment and this Department's Back To Education Programme was introduced to provide a comprehensive range of options from which an unemployed person can apply for, or be directed to, the most appropriate for his/her needs The Back To Education Programme range from basic foundation courses through to certain postgraduate university courses, and are:
1.2 Information Leaflet & application form
The Back to Education Programme Information booklet is the SW70 and application form is the BTE1. Further details are available on the website www.welfare.ie.
Note: The Back to Education Allowance Scheme, which is administrative, is under constant review to ensure that it remains relevant to labour market conditions and keeps its focus on helping those most marginalised in terms of employability. Accordingly it is not a function of the Back to Education scheme to support, or detract from, what is characterised as a normal trajectory through the education and CAO systems. In this context the eligibility criteria, for participation in the scheme, is subject to change from time to time. For current information on the schemes eligibility conditions, please consult with your Social Welfare Local Office or Employment Support Services, Back to Education Schemes, Shannon Lodge, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim.
The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is a non-statutory stand alone scheme approved by Government. Government Decision S.29416 of 8 October 1996 refers.
The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) Scheme is administered by:
Employment Support Services
Back to Education Schemes
Carrick on Shannon
1.5 Description of Scheme
The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is an educational opportunities scheme for persons in receipt of certain social welfare payments and who wish to pursue an approved full-time second or third level course of education in an approved college leading to a recognised qualification:
In order to qualify for the BTEA scheme it is necessary for a person to be
- Attending a recognised course of study at second or third level study option (all modules must be completed within the same academic year).
- Attending a full-time day course of study for the complete academic year, in a recognised college with which the Department of Education & Skills have a funding relationship and leading to a recognised qualification.
- a specific age.
- in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment for a specified period of time.
- must be in general commencing the first year of a course of study (see 1.14.8).
- The course must be leading to a progression of qualifications held by the person who wishes to participate in BTEA. (See 1.10)
- Approved by a Case Officer (all new BTEA applicants from June 2014)
- The Case Officer must ensure BTEA eligibility criteria is satisfied and the new course is career orientated and consistent with future skills needs and/or local demand.
1.6 Study Options available
There are two study options available under the Back to Education Allowance Scheme:
- Second Level Option (SLO)
- Third Level Option (TLO)
Note: FETAC courses are considered for BTEA purposes to be Second level Option courses and HETAC level courses are considered under the rules governing Third Level Option (TLO)
1.7 Second Level Option (SLO)
A person may attend a full time second level course of education at any Community, Comprehensive, Secondary, Vocational school or Institute of Technology with which the Department of Education and Skills have a funding relationship. The course being pursued must be a full-time day course of study and lead to a qualification that is:
- recognised by the Department of Education & Skills or
- awarded by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC).,
Examples of the type of courses covered are:
- Junior Certificate
- Leaving Certificate (Repeat LC may be allowed. However, relaxation rules in Paragraph 1.10 apply.)
- Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC)
- Foundation/Access courses at Universities or Institutes of Technology. Some colleges offer such courses with FETAC award. Other colleges will have "in house" award i.e. Certificate is awarded by college.
- Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) awards
- Vocational Education Committee i.e. VEC awards its own certification
In addition to existing Access/Foundation courses, approval may be given to preparatory 3rd level courses of at least 18 week's duration requiring full-time commitment and conferring a Special Purpose Award of a minimum of 30 credits that accumulate towards the student's chosen third level qualification.
Second Level Courses in UK/Northern Ireland
Second Level courses in the UK and Northern Ireland may also be approved provided they lead to a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ).
Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC):
In the majority of courses, the qualification awarding body determines if course is second level or third level i.e. FETAC is second level and HETAC (Higher Education and Training Awards Council) is third level. Applicant is requested, on BTE1, to state the awarding body of the qualification being pursued. However, if there is any doubt regarding the level of qualification or the awarding body, the school/college/institute should be contacted to confirm.
A wide range of qualifications are validated by FETAC e.g. FETAC Certificate Levels 1 to 5 and Advanced Certificate (Level 6) and may, if full-time, be pursued under the Second Level Option of the BTEA scheme.
Comprehensive details of all FETAC awards can be obtained from the National Framework of Qualifications website. This also gives details of third level qualifications i.e. HETAC
An overview of qualifications can be printed down from the NFQ website www.NFQ.ie: (See appendix 3)
In whereas FETAC awards are generally second level, BTEC awards can be either second or third level. BTEC is a British educational awards body and, at present, there is no definite alignment between BTEC awards and Rep. of Ireland awarding bodies. Following consultation with the National Qualifications Authorities of Ireland (NQAI) which is now known as Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the following criteria regarding BTEC awards applies:
- BTEC National Diploma is considered second level
- BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) is considered third level
1.8 Third Level Option (TLO)
A person may attend an approved third level course of education at any university or third level college or institution. The course must be a full-time day course of study which is recognised
- by the Department of Education and Skills for Higher Education Grant Scheme, or
- the Vocational Education Committee's Scholarship Scheme, or
- the Third Level Maintenance Grants Scheme for Trainees, or
- has Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) recognition
1.8.1 Postgraduate Study
The postgraduate option of the Back To Education Allowance is payable only to persons who wish to pursue a postgraduate course of study that leads to a Higher Diploma (H.Dip.) qualification in any discipline or to persons in pursuit of a Professional Masters in education (PME) (level 9) which has replaced the Professional Diploma in Education (PDE Level 8) from September 2014. However, an applicant must be 12 months (312 days) on a qualifying DSP payment for this Masters course. A H.Dip in any discipline is recognised for BTEA purposes - not just a H.Dip in Education. A person that holds a H. Dip cannot pursue a Masters qualification under BTEA.
Other types of postgraduate qualifications are not recognised for BTEA purposes. e.g. Masters in other disciplines, MA, MSc, M.Phil etc. However, there is one other exception to the eligibility rule for Masters based solely on 'life experience' whereby a person is admitted to a Masters programme without a primary degree. The person needs confirmation from the college detailing the basis of their offer of a college place and confirming that it excludes the requirement to hold a primary degree or diploma. 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 on the basis of relevant life experience. In the context of the ongoing review of the operation of the scheme, it was decided to extend entitlement to back to education allowance in these instances on an exceptional basis. Under no circumstances will BTEA be awarded to a person who already holds a postgraduate qualification.
1.8.2 Third level study outside of Ireland
Full-time day undergraduate courses in European Union countries which are recognised for Higher Education Grant purposes may also be considered for the Back to Education Allowance. Only postgraduate courses in Ireland are eligible for the BTEA scheme.
1.9 Qualifying Conditions for SLO & TLO
To qualify for the Back to Education Allowance (second level or third level option), a person must secure a place on an approved course (as specified above) and satisfy the following conditions immediately prior to the commencement of the first year of the course (see 1.14.8):
(A) at least 21 years of age (at least 24 years of age for an approved postgraduate qualification)
in receipt of one of the following social welfare payments for at least 3 months (78 days) for Second Level Option (SLO) , 9 months (234 days) for Third Level Option (TLO) and 12 months (312 days) for the Professional Masters of Education. [Linking rules may apply 1.11 and also see section 1.12]
*strict adherence to the condition in relation to qualifying days will be applied in all cases
- Jobseekers Allowance
- Jobseekers Benefit
- Farm Assist or Fish Assist
- One-Parent Family Payment
- Deserted Wife's Allowance
- Deserted Wife's Benefit
- Widow's/Widower's Non-Contributory Pension
- Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension
- Prisoners Wife's Allowance
- Carer's Allowance
(B) be at least 18 years of age
in receipt of one the following social welfare payments for at least 3 months (78 days) for Second Level Option (SLO) , 9 months for Third Level Option (TLO) and 12 months (312 days) for the Professional Masters of Education.
- Disability Allowance
- Blind Pension
- Invalidity Pension
- Incapacity Supplement (based on a Life Disablement Pension)
(C) Aged 18 and under 21 and out of formal education for at least 2 years. Periods spent on SOLAS/FÁS full-time Training Courses or Youth Reach can count towards the relevant qualifying period and may be regarded as periods out of formal education.
In receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, Jobseekers Benefit or One-Parent Family Payment for at least 3 months ((see note 1) 78 days of unemployment) for Second Level Option (SLO), 9 months ((see note 1) 234 days of unemployment) for Third Level Option (TLO) and 12 months (312 days) for the Professional Masters of Education.
(D) In receipt of Illness Benefit for 2 years or more
(E) In the case of persons on a Jobseekers payment, the application must be recommended under a directed selection approach by a Department Case Officer. (New applicants from June 2014)
Note 1: Sunday shall not be treated as a day of unemployment for BTEA purposes. Consideration should be given to include Sunday in the case of casual signers.
1.10 Progression in education course
In general, the approved full-time education course must lead to a higher qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications other than that already held. Existing graduates should not have an entitlement to BTEA to pursue a course at a similar qualification level as, inter alia; this can lead to displacement of persons seeking such qualifications for the first time. Reference should be made to the National Framework of Qualifications (see appendix 3) e.g. If a person holds a Fetac level 4 qualification, they must be progressing to a level 5 qualification. A person holding a level 7 degree can only apply for a level 8 add- on year (honours bachelor degree) in the same discipline and is not eligible for new level 8 degree course in a different discipline.
From June 2014, BTEA can be approved for a person who already holds a Fetac Level 5 or 6 qualification under the National Framework of Qualifications to undertake a course at the same level. This change in the progression rule only applies in certain limited circumstances to second level courses at level 5 & 6. A recommendation to allow a person to undertake a further course of study at the same level must be approved by a Case Officer outlining the basis of the recommendation in terms of further professional/career development and their overall job prospects. A person holding a level 7 qualification is not eligible for BTEA to complete a level 5 or 6 qualification. Among the criteria to be assessed by the Case officer is that BTEA eligibility criteria are satisfied, the L5 or L6 course is at second level, the previous educational award is deemed to be in an economic sector that is no longer growing, the new course is career orientated and consistent with future skills needs and/or local demand, the maximum course duration is 24 months, the applicant worked for a period of at least three years and has paid PRSI contributions and the previous award was made 3 or more years prior to the commencement date of the new proposed course.
1.11 Linking Periods
Periods spent on BTEA qualifying Social Welfare Payments or on Jobseekers/Illness Benefit credits, that are not broken by more than 12 months (52 weeks), can be used in determining if an applicant satisfies the qualifying period criteria.
1.12 Other Schemes that count towards the qualifying period for BTEA
Periods spent on the BTEA, Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS), SOLAS/FAS full-time Training Course, FIT, Community Employment Scheme, JST, Part-time Job Incentive Scheme, Community Services Programme, Rural Social Scheme, Tús, National Internship, Gateway, WPP, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or Short-term Enterprise Allowance, may count towards the qualifying period for BTEA purposes. This provision applies only in cases where the BTEA applicant has an underlying entitlement to a qualifying social welfare payment immediately prior to commencement of their course. In the case where a person drops out of one of these schemes, a case officer should may recommend BTEA as better intervention. QA's on these schemes are not eligible for BTEA.
- Period spent on Youth Reach can count towards the qualifying period for BTEA provided the person establishes an entitlement to a relevant social welfare payment prior to, or after completion of Youth Reach programme.
- Periods spent in prison in this State can be taken as, or count towards the qualifying period for BTEA once an entitlement to a relevant Social Welfare Payment has been established.
- Time spent on Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) or Direct Provision from the Health Service Executive can count towards the qualifying period for BTEA. This applies only in circumstances where the person establishes an entitlement to a relevant Social Welfare payment immediately prior to commencing an approved course of study and satisfies the linking rules.
- Persons awarded Statutory Redundancy under Irish legislation may have immediate access to the BTEA scheme, (or within one year of the award of the Statutory Redundancy), provided an entitlement to a relevant Social Welfare payment is established immediately prior to commencement of an approved course of study. However, persons who opt for a voluntary redundancy scheme cannot have immediate access to BTEA. QA's of persons that receive Statutory Redundancy cannot have immediate access.
1.13 BTEA and Illness Benefit.
An Illness Benefit recipient requires a period of 2 years or more to qualify for BTEA to pursue either SLO or TLO option. Periods spent on other BTEA relevant qualifying payments (JA/JB etc.) can be used to make up the 2 year qualifying period provided that at least 50% of the 2 years (12 months) is IB.
However, this 50% requirement will be relaxed for persons who previously were in receipt of Illness Benefit and qualified for another illness related payment such as Invalidity Pension or Disability Allowance prior to applying for BTEA.
In the case of Jobseekers, periods spent on Illness Benefit can count towards the 3 month (78 days) qualifying period for Second Level Option (SLO) 9 month (234 days) for Third Level Option (TLO) and 12 months (312 days) for the Professional Masters of Education, provided that at least 50% of the qualifying period was spent on the relevant Social Welfare payment that actually qualifies the person for participation in the BTEA Scheme. e.g. persons applying for BTEA from a jobseekers payment for a degree course, must have a total of 9 months (234 days), half of which must be from the relevant jobseekers claims and the balance can be IB.
1.13.1 BTEA participants other than Jobseekers claimants.
A BTEA participant who is in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Allowance, Deserted Wife's Benefit, Widow's/Widower's Non-Contributory Pension or Widow's/Widower's Contributory Allowance,Prisoners Wife's Allowance or qualifying illness related payments may apply for BTEA. However, if the course of study is in Ireland, such persons can opt to remain on their existing payment and apply for the Student Maintenance Grant. In these cases, entitlement to RENT Allowance will no longer exist. In order to have an entitlement to Rent Allowance when pursuing a full-time course, a person must be in receipt of BTEA or VTOS. In all cases, the customer must notify the relevant office of any change in their circumstances.
1.14 Special Provisions
1.14.1 BTEA Eligibility to both partners:
The Qualified Adult Dependent of a person who is in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment may have an entitlement to the Back to Education Allowance in their own right subject to satisfying the eligibility criteria pertaining to same. This provision applies to all BTEA relevant social welfare payments where there is an increase in respect of a Qualified Adult Dependent in payment.
To qualify under this option, the applicant must be a Qualified Adult Dependent (for the required qualifying period i.e. 3 months for SLO, 9 months for TLO and 12 months for the Professional Masters of Education, (2 years in case of IB recipients) of a person in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment and must satisfy the eligibility criteria (e.g.age, etc) for participation in the BTEA scheme immediately prior to the commencement of the approved course of study.
In effect, this provision allows the Social Welfare claimant and his/her Qualified Adult Dependent to qualify independently for participation in the Back to Education Allowance Scheme. Note: Periods spent in receipt of a Qualified Adult Allowance may not be added to periods in receipt of a personal rate of social welfare payment in order to link a claim to qualify for Back to Education. QA's of persons that receive Statutory Redundancy cannot have immediate access. Since 01 January 2013, the Qualified Adult Dependent, is entitled to the QA rate of the relevant Social Welfare payment that the claimant is in receipt of. Financial support may continue for the academic year provided an entitlement to a primary payment exists. If entitlement to the primary payment ceases, financial support on BTEA will cease unless the QA is entitled to a qualifying BTEA payment in their own right. If the QA qualified for a BTEA payment in their own right, financial support may continue at the rate of their new entitlement. Underlying conditions for the new payment then applies.
Part-time work/Qualified Adult
A BTEA participant can take up part-time employment after commencing a course without effecting their BTEA rate of payment. However, in the case of a qualified adult on BTEA, those earnings may have a consequential effect on their spouse/partners JA payment. If their earnings are such that they disqualify their spouse/ partner from receiving the primary JA payment, the participants entitlement to financial support as a QA under BTEA will cease. However, if the QA is entitled to a qualifying BTEA payment in their own right, financial support may continue at the rate of their new payment. Underlying conditions for the new payment then applies.
JB / Qualified Adult prior to 1 January 2015.
For BTEA applications received from QA's of JB recipients up to 31/12/14 for courses commencing in 2014 or earlier, QA's are entitled to receive the QA rate of payment for the duration of their current course. For all new courses thereafter, BTEA rules at the time of their new application will apply.
JB/ Qualified Adult after 1st January 2015
For all new BTEA applicants from 01 January, 2015, the financial support will cease when entitlement to JB exhausts for the primary payment. If the qualified adult is entitled to a qualifying BTEA payment in their own right, financial support may continue at the rate of their new payment. Underlying conditions for the new payment then applies.
The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) is payable for a maximum of 2 years only. In circumstances where a person has undertaken a course/qualification that is in excess of 2 years while on VTOS, BTEA (Second Level Option) is payable for the remainder of the course/qualification or if progressing to an approved Third Level course. This proviosion applies only where the BTEA applicant has an underlying entitlement to a qualifying social welfare payment immediately prior to commencing the course and that the person is progressing in educational qualifications in the following academic year.
1.14.3 Signing arrangements:
Jobseekers' Allowance or Jobseekers' Benefit recipients who qualify for participation on BTEA are not required to sign-on the Live Register while attending an approved course of study. The prior approval of the department must always be sought by JA and JB recipients for participating on any course of education. Failure to seek this approval may result in an overpayment and possible prosecution.
1.14.4 BTEA and half-rate JB
The half rate payment ceased for new applicants from 02 February 2012.
1.14.5 Qualifying for BTEA from "credits only":
Back to Education Allowance participants who were in receipt of "credits only" on commencement of Back to Education Allowance may satisfy the contribution conditions for Jobseekers Benefit on the commencement of a new Governing Contribution Year. These participants are entitled to receive Back to Education Allowance from the date on which these conditions are satisfied.
1.14.6 Repeat years:
BTEA participants who have to repeat a year of their course will continue to be paid the allowance for the repeat year. This is provided that the BTEA participant is registered and attending as a FULL-TIME student for the repeat year. Repeat students who register as external students, exam only students or part-time students for their repeat year are not eligible for the allowance. A person will only be allowed to repeat one academic year of their current course of study on the basis of exam failure and/or exceptional circumstances, evidence of such to be provided. e.g. due to illness, pregnancy, force majeure reasons.
It should be noted that single semesters of a course are not covered under BTEA.
A BTEA participant who fails and repeats an exam and who satisfies all other eligibility criteria for BTEA shall be allowed progress to the next year of their course of study. However, if there is a break of an academic year, they will be treated as new entrants for payment purposes.
1.14.7 Drop out of course
A BTEA participant who fails to complete, or drops out of a course will not be permitted on to the scheme to pursue a different course unless the Department is satisfied that certain circumstances pertain. The condition may be waived where there are mitigating circumstances, for which evidence must be provided, that would make it unreasonable to expect a person to have continued the course. Recovery of amounts paid may be considered.
1.14.8 Relaxation of the first year of an approved course of study:
The condition that applicants must be commencing the first year of an approved full-time course to access the BTEA has being relaxed subject to fulfilling the other scheme conditions, to allow access after the first year of a course to:
- Applicants who have been granted an exemption by the college/course provider based on a previous course or on life experience.
- Applicants who had completed the earlier year(s) of the course on a part-time basis.
- Applicants who had completed the earlier year(s) on a full-time basis before being made redundant and receiving statutory redundancy from their full-time employment. However, persons who opt for voluntary redundancy are excluded from this provision.
- Applicants who are permitted by the college/course provider to proceed to the next year of a course after having previously dropped out or deferred a year due to mitigating circumstances that would have made it unreasonable to expect a person to have continued the course. Documentary evidence from the college must be provided and in the event that a medical condition existed supporting documentation from the doctor/specialist etc. must be submitted.
- From 4 July 2013, former One Family Parent customers affected by age related change to OFP in full-time education who did not opt for BTEA at the start of the course may be admitted to BTEA 'mid course' i.e. with effect from a current date. The customer must satisfy all the other eligibility rules with the exception of the late claims provision and not first year of the course. The customer cannot be in receipt of both BTEA and a Student Maintenance grant. RSU circulars 47/13, 61/13 and 24/14 details the position.
A person who wishes to pursue a second level (SLO) or Third level (TLO) course of study or Postgraduate (limited) and wishes to apply for BTEA it is necessary to be:
- A specific age.
- In receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment or be a qualified dependant for a specified period of time.
- The course must be a recognised full-time day course of study and attended on a full-time basis
- Studying at a recognised college leading to a recognised qualification (for BTEA purposes).
- Must be commencing the first year of a course of study (with exceptions-See 1.14.8).
- Progressing in the level of education held by the client with reference to the National framework of qualifications. (see 1.10)
- recommended for approval by a Departmental Case Officer, if a Jobseeker.
1.15 BTEA Disqualifications.
- Entitlement to Back to Education Allowance is terminated when the person ceases to pursue an approved course of study.
- Since 01 January 2013, entitlement to BTEA for new entrants will no longer exist if the participant fails to satisfy the means test, if their primary qualifying payment was JA/DA/OFP/Carers/BPP /WNCP. In this regard, means from part-time employment undertaken by BTEA recipients during the academic year should not be assessed. This is provided the work commenced after the start date of their course and does not interfere with their College attendance. See Para. 1.17 on Revised Decisions.
- Persons in receipt of Back to Education Allowance are not eligible to participate in a Community Employment Scheme, Social Economy Programme, Tús, Rural Social Scheme, Gateway Programme, SOLAS/FÁS training programme, WPP, National Internship Programme, Part-time Job Incentive Scheme or any other employment scheme.
- Persons in receipt of Back to Education Allowance are not eligible for Family Income Supplement (FIS).
- Entitlement to BTEA does not exist if the course attracts additional funding for the applicant. However, if a student receives a bursary or scholarship payment, such cases should be reviewed and means assessed if applicable. Primary payment rules apply. Courses leading to minor/special purpose awards or component certificates are not eligible for BTEA with the exception of Foundation/Access courses as outlined in Para. 1.7.
Persons pursuing Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) recognised, or other second level courses of study at Roslyn Park College, National Learning Network or any other SOLAS/FÁS Funded Training Institute are not eligible to participate in the Back to Education Allowance Scheme.
1.16 Rates of Payment prior to 01 January, 2013
BTEA applicants approved prior to 1st January 2013, receive a weekly personal rate equivalent to the maximum standard personal rate of the relevant Social Welfare payment. These cases are treated as 'saver cases' for the duration of BTEA, provided the applicant does not have a break of an academic year in their course of study (see Para. 1.14.6 Repeat Years). Where applicable, increases are payable in respect of qualified adults and child dependants.
1.16.1 QA/DCA Entitlement.
If the primary payment was JA/DA, the rate payable should be determined by reference to the tapered QA rules that apply to JB cases. The claim should be treated similar to a JB claim and pay allowances accordingly. A reduced rate of QA is payable if the qualified adult has gross earnings or income in excess of €100 and up to €310 per week. An increase of €29.80 for each qualified child if an increase for a QA is payable or if parenting alone. Normal DCA rules are applied. If no increase for QA is payable, half-rate qualified child increase may be payable if the qualified adults gross weekly income is €400 or less per week.
1.16.2. Rates of Payment after 01 January, 2013.
Since January 1st 2013, the practice of uprating those on means tested payments JA/OFP and DA,etc. up to the maximum personal rate has been discontinued for new entrants.
1.16.3 New entrants to BTEA (JA/DA) aged under 26 years old
Since 1 January, 2014 the age threshold for age related payment on Jobseekers Allowance increased from 25 to 26 year olds (Budget 2014 refers). Persons aged under 26 years who are in receipt of an age related jobseekers payment who participate in the Back to Education Allowance scheme (new entrants only) will receive €160 per week. If means apply, the means are taken off the €160 rate. If married or co-habiting, underlying payment rules apply. i.e. family rate payment. Limitation (max rate pay) pertains to BTEA cases as currently applies when dealing with JB/JA/Preta/Farm Assist/IB/Invalidity and taking into account the uplift from the previous rate of €100/€144 to €160, where applicable.
1.16.4 New entrants to BTEA aged over 26 years of age
Since 1 January, 2014, the age threshold has been increased from 25 to 26 year olds (Budget 2014 refers). New entrants who are over 26 years are entitled to BTEA at the rate of their qualifying payment. Limitation (max rate pay) pertains to BTEA cases as currently applied when dealing with JB/JA/Preta/Farm Assist/IB/Invalidity.
To decide rates payable for JA/DA customers, the underlying payment rules for the scheme should be applied.
1.16.5 JB Primary payment
From 1 January 2013, where a person on a graduated rate of jobseekers' benefit based on earnings bands applies for BTEA, the rate of BTEA is equal to their JB rate. However, the person may opt for a JA rate. However, from 01 January 2015, new BTEA applicants will only receive payment for the duration of the Jobseekers Benefit claim. When payment exhausts, means will have to be applied similar to a JA case.
1.16.6 Casual Workers
For new BTEA entrants where a person has been signing casually immediately prior to the commencement of a course, the rate of BTEA should be calculated by averaging SW payment from the last eight weeks payment and where applicable taking into account the uplift for persons on a jobseekers age related i.e. difference between the previous rate of €100 or €144 and the €160 providing they are still undertaking this work. If there is a change in means circumstances, other than the commencement of part-time work during the academic year by the BTEA participant (work should not interfere with college attendance), then a revised decision should be applied. Documentary evidence of either the cessation or commencement of such part-time work should be sought and retained for reference on file.
If a customer has to give up their part-time employment as it conflicts with college attendance, a review of means must be undertaken.
1.17 Revised Decision:
1.17.1 BTEA awarded prior to I January, 2013.
BTEA applicants approved prior to 1st January 2013, receive a weekly personal rate equivalent to the maximum standard personal rate of the relevant Social Welfare payment. These cases are treated as 'saver cases' for the duration of BTEA, provided the applicant does not have a break of an academic year in their course of study (see Para. 1.14.6 Repeat Years). Where applicable, increases are payable in respect of qualified adults and child dependants.
If there is a change in circumstances which effect QA/ DCA entitlement, a review of these allowances should be completed and the rate payable for these allowance adjusted accordingly.
1.17.2 New BTEA entrants awarded since 1 January 2013.
If a BTEA recipient ceases employment while in receipt of the allowance, the rate of BTEA should be reviewed favourable provided we have documentary proof of cessation of work. Similarly, if a person's work pattern changes and the person is working less hours/days than they were working prior to start date of course and there is supporting documentation on file to cover same ,their case should also be reviewed, taking into account their new work pattern.
Persons who were assessed with parental income may have an entitlement to a higher rate of payment on reaching 25 years of age
1.17.3 Part-time employment after commencing BTEA.
It should be noted that BTEA participants may commence part-time employment during the academic year without affecting their rate of BTEA payment provided the work does not interfere with college attendance. Documentary evidence of such part-time work should be sought and retained for reference on file.
NOTE: However, additional income will affect entitlement to Rent/Mortgage Supplement. Entitlement to fuel allowance may also be affected by an increase in means.
1.17.4 Other means
If there is a change in means circumstances during the academic year for claimant or spouse/partner, other than commencement of part-time work by the BTEA recipient during the academic year as outlined above, then a revised decision must be applied. This could also result in a change of rate payable for qualified adult/child dependent allowance. (See Paragraph 1.16.5, re; JB cases).
1.18 Cost of Education Allowance (abolished since 1/1/2013)
1.19 Extra Benefits
Participants may continue to receive any secondary benefits to which they would otherwise have an entitlement (provisions are governed by primary legislation). These may include:
- Fuel Allowance
- Rent Allowance/Mortgage Interest Supplement under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme. Any increase in income or earnings from part-time employment, will affect entitlement to a Rent/Mortgage Supplement. Also, all educational grants received are assessed for Rent Allowance and Mortgage Interest Supplement purposes.
In all cases, the BTEA applicant should notify the relevant area of any change in household circumstances.
1.20 Back to Education Allowance and Maintenance Grants
Since September 2010, all new applicants who are in receipt of the Back to Education Allowance or VTOS allowances for those pursuing PLC courses, are no longer eligible for student support maintenance grants. However, the student registration fee, including other fees payable and the Back to Education Allowance can be paid together if the person satisfies the eligibility criteria for both. All enquiries regarding Student Grant Scheme should be directed to SUSI 076 – 1087874.
2. Claims, Documentation and Decision Procedures
Responsibility for securing a place on a course rests with the applicant. The Department of Social Protection may provide some does not provide assistance and advice in this regard. Since 1st June 2014, all new BTEA claims (Jobseekers only) must be recommended by a Case Officer.
Once a person has been accepted on a course, they must notify the Department by completing the application form (BTE 1). Application form (BTE1) is readily available from various outlets (see Appendix 1).
2.2 Timing of Application
Applications for BTEA must be made prior to commencement of an approved course of study. A person may submit an application for consideration within 30 days of the commencement date of the course; provided it is accompanied with evidence that reasonable grounds exist for doing so. In exceptional circumstances, applications may be considered after 30 days of the commencement date of the course, for example if a person did not submit a claim due to illness or other force majeure circumstances and the necessary evidence accompanies the application. The Officer awarding a late application should document the reason for the late award if a BTEA application is received after the commencement of the course.
Applicants are responsible for the production of the information required. This includes written confirmation from the relevant institute of education that the applicant has registered as a full-time day student. Payment will not issue until applicants provide written confirmation from the school/college.
Failure to supply relevant documentation within 30 days will result in the application being considered withdrawn.
Participants may be requested to furnish confirmation of on-going course attendance. Failure to supply this information within the period specified may result in a suspension of payment and assessment of an overpayment.
Participants are required to notify the Department of cessation of participation on a course or any change in circumstances.
Decisions on BTEA (SLO & TLO) applications are made by Officials of the Department in the relevant Social Welfare Office/Intreo. On receipt of a completed application form (BTE 1), the application is examined to ensure that all scheme eligibility criteria are satisfied. Decisions on Jobseeker payments (new entrants) must be recommended by a Case Officer. Among the criteria to be assessed by the Case officer is that BTEA eligibility criteria is satisfied and that the new course is career orientated and consistent with future skills needs and/or local demand.
3. Procedures following award.
If the conditions of entitlement are satisfied, formal provisional approval is issued to the applicant. The applicant is advised that written confirmation from school/College stating that they are registered as a full-time day student must be supplied before payment of BTEA commences (for second level courses, written confirmation must be obtained from school/College Principal. For third level course, written confirmation from the Registrars, Student Records or Admissions Office of the College). Letter should include details of the course of study as outlined in their application and the start and finishing date of the course in the current academic year.
On receipt of same, the relevant Social Welfare Office should issue a formal decision, notifying customer of payment arrangements and advising customer to notify relevant DSP offices of any change in circumstances.
Copy to be kept on file. Copy letter is available on the Employment Support Services site on Stor.
If the conditions of entitlement are not satisfied, notification is issued to the claimant, stating the specific grounds for refusal. The claimant is advised of his/her right to have the decision reviewed within 21 days.
5. Reviews and appeal of decision
The Back to Education Allowance is a non-statutory scheme and, as such, decisions cannot be appealed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. A person who is not satisfied with a decision may request (in writing) a review by an officer of the relevant Social Welfare Local Office or Section, enclosing any new evidence in support of the review. A reviewing officer should ensure the original decision and any new evidence supplied is reviewed taking the BTEA guidelines into consideration in their entirety. Decisions post review should be communicated clearly to the client outlining in detail why the claim has been awarded/refused and noting that all new evidence has been taken into consideration in coming to a final decision.
(If BTEA is refused based on the recommendation of the Case Officer, the review should be taken by another Case Officer or Area Manager in the Division attached to the relevant office).
6. TLA system
Staff should ensure that all SLO/TLO claims received and processed are input on the TLA system which is available on OFFICE. Awards/refusals/withdrawals/dropouts etc. (See seperate Training Manual for this application which is available on the Employment Support Services site on Stor).
7. Methods of Payment
Back to Education Allowance is paid on a weekly basis. Participants are requested to supply details of their bank account and payment of the allowance may be made by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT). Other methods of payment may include Electronic Information Transfer (EIT) or postdraft (PDT).
*In some instances Back to Education allowance is paid one week in arrears.
8. Duration of Payment
8.1 JA/JB cases.
Normally, the back to education allowance is payable for the duration of the academic year only providing entitlement exists. See Paragraph 1.16.5 re: JB cases. The allowance is NOT payable for the summer period between academic years to BTEA participants who were in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance or Jobseekers Benefit prior to participation in the scheme.
Where BTEA participants (Second or Third Level Option) are unable to find employment during the summer period, subject to satisfying the usual qualifying conditions, they may be entitled to claim an unemployment payment (JA/JB).
8.2 All other qualifying payments
Persons who were in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Allowance, Deserted Wife's Benefit, Widow's/Widower's Non-Contributory Pension, Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension, Prisoner's Wife's Allowance, Disability Allowance, Blind Pension, Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement, Carer's Allowance or Illness Benefit prior to participation in the scheme will retain payment during the summer period provided they are returning and progressing to the next year of their course of study. In the case of participants who qualified from an OFP claim received after 27th April 2011, there is provision for continued payment of BTEA and QC for people until completion of the course of study if the youngest child reaches an age threshold for withdrawal of QC payment.
Please note that if a person ceases their course of education and re-applies for any social welfare payment, they must fulfill the qualifying conditions for that scheme. These may include disclosure of all earnings and other income where required. However, persons awarded BTEA based on IB may have their IB payment re-instated provided their Doctor certifies them unfit for work.
8.3 Work placement/Thesis/Erasmus
In circumstances where BTEA participants have to, as an integral or compulsory part of their course of study, undertake a period of work placement/experience/thesis or dissertation , the allowance will continue in payment for this period. The participant must supply written evidence from the Registrars' Office/Admissions Office or Student Records Office of the school/college/institution confirming this and the start and completion date. Likewise, if a customer is pursuing a year of their approved course under an Erasmus arrangement, confirmation must be provided from the Registrars' Office/Admissions Office or Student Records Office of the school/college/institution confirming this and the start and completion date . Work placement outside of Ireland should not be considered where there is the option to undertake the work placement in Ireland. Work placement after the completion of a FIT course is not covered.
8.4 End of academic year.
Customers will be contacted, in March/April of each year to determine their intentions for the new academic year. Participants will also be requested to supply the finish date for the current academic year (normally date of last exam). Payment of the allowance will continue to this date.
Failure to notify the Department of intentions in respect of the forthcoming academic year will result in the immediate suspension of the Back to Education Allowance.
8.5 Progression/Resumptions awarded prior to 01 January, 2013.
BTEA participants who are progressing to the next year of their course or who are progressing from second level to third level approved undergraduate qualifications or from undergraduate qualification to BTEA eligible postgraduate courses will have their BTEA reinstated from the commencement of the new academic year irrespective of whether they were in receipt of an unemployment payment for the summer period.
8.6. Progression/Resumptions awarded after 1 January 2013.
BTEA participants, based on the primary payment being Jobseekers Benefit, who are progressing to the next year of their course or who are progressing from second level to third level approved undergraduate qualifications or from undergraduate qualification to BTEA eligible postgraduate courses will have their BTEA reinstated from the commencement of the new academic year irrespective of whether they were in receipt of an unemployment payment for the summer period.
All other BTEA participants will have their BTEA reinstated from the commencement of the new academic year providing they continue to satisfy the means test pertaining to the primary payment.
BTEA participants must supply written confirmation from school/college/institute that they have registered as a full-time day student for the new academic year. Participants are also required to notify the Department of cessation of participation on a course or any other changes in circumstances.
9. On going review of entitlement.
Claims should be reviewed on an on-going basis in the relevant Office.
10. CONTROL AND CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES
A number of control actions are initiated before a BTEA claim can be awarded and put in to payment (See Paragraph 2.4 Approval Process);
- confirmation from school/College stating that the person is registered as a full-time day student (for second level courses, written confirmation must be obtained from school/College Principal. For third level course, written confirmation from the Registrars, Student Records or Admissions Office of the College)
- details of the course of study as outlined in their application
- the start and finishing date of the course in the current academic year.
Payment of the Back to Education Allowance will not issue until this information is supplied and delays could result in loss of payment. Copy letters from the school/College are not acceptable.
Resumption Notices are issued in March/April to ascertain when courses are finishing and participants' intentions for the coming academic year e.g. course completed or customer going on to the next year of course or progressing to an approved course. Based on the response, a decision is made either to terminate the BTEA at the end of the current academic year or to continue payment in the following academic year.
If a customer does not respond to the resumption notice within a reasonable length of time, payment of BTEA is suspended. Details provided by client on their BTE1 application should correspond with details now supplied. If it transpires that details are different/contradictory to the facts already established a review should take place.
Once awarded, participants in BTEA are required to notify the Department immediately if they cease participation on their chosen course or any change in circumstances.
Participation in the Back to Education Allowance may be periodically reviewed, to confirm that the conditions of entitlement continue to be satisfied. Local Social Welfare offices/Intreo are also encouraged to engage in annual control exercises on BTEA which investigate if participants continue to attend their chosen full time courses of study on a full time basis and continue to satisfy the conditions of the scheme.
As outlined in circulars 82/08, 107/09, 65/10 , 67/13 and 34/14 it is good practice to request BTEA customers to supply written evidence of ongoing full-time attendance at school/College. Results from these control exercises should be forwarded to the BTEA central policy section where they can be critically examined and inform future policy on BTEA.
Similarly, where control exercises on BTEA are initiated and carried out in social welfare regions throughout the country, results should be forwarded by the Regional Manager to the BTEA central policy section for examination.
10.1 Recovery of overpayments.
A review may also be initiated on receipt of notification of any change in circumstances which may affect entitlement or the appropriate rate of payment. Where a person has received BTEA payments from the Department of Social Protection, which he or she was not entitled to receive, the person shall be liable to repay on demand a sum not exceeding the amount of the money received. Reference should be made to the Departmental guidelines on the recovery of debt.
10.2. Student Data Match
In addition, as part of wider Departmental control procedures a student data match takes place annually. The Department requests and receives data in relation to all students on an annual basis. When the Department receives this data, the student details are matched against the social welfare databases. Cases identified where a student is in full-time education and are in receipt of a jobseekers payment (excluding Back to Education) are referred to the Special Investigation Unit for investigation. Where there are irregularities, claims are terminated and overpayments raised which the Department actively pursues. Fraudulent cases are considered for prosecution.
Information Leaflet (SW70) and application form (BTE1) are available from:
- Nationwide network of Social Welfare Local Offices/Intreo,
- Employment Support Services, Back to Education Schemes Section, Shannon Lodge, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim.
- Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo,
- Social Welfare Services Office, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Longford,
- Information Service, Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo.
Completed application form (BTE1) should be returned to:
- Persons in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, Jobseekers Benefit, Farm Assist or One Parent Family Payment (paid by your local Social Welfare Office/Intreo) must return the completed application form (BTE1) to the relevant Social Welfare Local Office.
- Persons in receipt of a One-Parent Family Payment, (paid from Social Welfare Services Sligo) Deserted Wife's Allowance, Deserted Wife's Benefit, Widow's/Widower's Non-Contributory Pension, Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension, Prisoners Wife's Allowance or Blind Pension must return the completed application form (BTE1) to the Social Welfare Services Office, College Road, Sligo.
- Persons in receipt of Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement or Carer's Allowance must return the completed application form (BTE1) to Social Welfare Services Office, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Longford.
- Persons in receipt of Illness Benefit must return the completed application form (BTE1) to Employment Support Services, Back to Education Schemes, Shannon Lodge, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim.
Details of Relevant changes to Third Level Allowance/Second Level Allowance & Back to Education Allowance since 1990
1990 Third Level Allowance (TLA) first introduced. Applied to Jobseekers Allowance and Jobseekers Benefit only. Age criteria was 23 and qualifying period was 15 months
1993: Extended to recipients of One Parent Family Payments
Qualifying period reduced to 12 months
1995: Age criteria reduced to 21 years of age
Qualifying period reduced to 6 months
TLA extended to Postgraduate qualifications (age criteria 24) provided applicant was on LR for at least 6 months after completing primary degree
1996: TLA established as a separate stand-alone scheme
TLA payable at maximum personal rate
Book Allowance (E127.00) introduced
Payment of TLA during Summer vacation period
Requirement to be, for Postgraduate Option, on LR for 6 months after completing primary degree abolished
1997: Second Level Allowance (SLA) established as a stand-alone scheme
1998: Both the Second Level Allowance (SLA) and the Third Level Allowance (TLA) were merged into a unified Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) Scheme.
Disability Allowance and Blind Pension became relevant payments for BTEA purposes.
Annual Book Allowance was re-titled Cost of Education Allowance and increased to E190.00
1999: Annual Cost of Education Allowance increased to E254.00
2000: Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement and Carer's Allowance became relevant payments for BTEA purposes
The Qualified Adult of a BTEA eligible person could "take over" the relevant Social Welfare payment in order to access the BTEA scheme. This arrangement is known as "Spousal Swap"
Periods spent on Back to Work Allowance, FAS Job Initiative and Job Start could count towards qualifying period for BTEA
2001: Early School Leavers (18-20 year olds) qualified for BTEA provided out of formal education for at least 2 years
People with disabilities who accessed Community Employment Schemes through the National Disability Authority (NDA) became eligible for BTEA without having to establish a Social Welfare entitlement
2002: Persons in receipt of Deserted Wife's Allowance/Benefit Widows Contributory/Non Contributory Pension and Prisoners Wife's Allowance without dependent children became eligible for BTEA
BTEA was extended to persons in receipt of Illness Benefit for 3 years or more
Qualified Adult of BTEA eligible persons became eligible to access scheme in their own right (replaced "Spousal Swap")
2003: Summer payment to BTEA participants previously on Jobseekers Allowance and Jobseekers Benefit discontinued
Postgraduate option of BTEA scheme restricted to Higher Diplomas (H.Dip.) or Postgraduate Diplomas in Education (Primary School Teaching)
2004: Qualifying period for TLO increased from 6 to 15 months
2005: Qualifying period for TLO reduced from 15 to 12 months
JA and JB recipients qualify for TLO at 9 months if participating in NEAP process
Annual Cost of Education Allowance increased to E400.00
2006: Periods spent on SWA or Direct Provision from HSE to count towards qualifying period provided entitlement to relevant Social Welfare payment is established prior to commencing an approved course of study
2007: Qualifying period for Illness Benefit reduced to 2 years
Persons awarded Statutory Redundancy may access scheme provided entitlement to a relevant Social Welfare payment is established prior to commencing an approved course of study. 1/9/2007
2008: Annual Cost of Education Allowance increases to EUR500.00.
Cost of Education Allowance extended to "credit only" cases
2009: Reduction of the qualifying period for Second level courses from 6 months (156 days) to 3 Months (78 days) for all qualifying payments. (1/5/2009)
Earlier access to Third level Option of the BTEA on the recommendation of the Job Facilitator. (Jobseekers claims only). (1/5/2009)
2010: Qualifying period for receipt of TLO courses reduced to 9 months(234 days ) for all payments (July 2010) except Illness Benefit. (2 year qualifying period for Illness Benefit cases)
Relaxation of the condition of first year of course of study (July 2010)
BTEA recipients no longer eligible for Student Support Maintenance Grants (maintenance element only) September 2010
2011: BTEA recipients allowed to repeat only 1 year of their course of study. (21 June 2011).
2012: Annual Cost of Education reduced from €500 to €300
2013: The €300 cost of Education Allowance was abolished for new and existing BTEA participants form January 1st, 2013. This applies to all courses commencing after this date.
The practice of uprating over 25 year olds on all DSP payments to the maximum weekly rate is discontinued for new entrants only from 1 January 2013 and the uprating of under 25s on age related Jobseeker payments to a new reduced maximum rate of €160 applies to new entrants only from 1st Jan 2013. Under 25 year olds with means will have their means applied to the new €160 rate.
Those currently engaged with BTEA and who are progressing, or who are mid-course (for example will finish year one in May 2013 and resume their studies in September 2013), will not be affected by the budget 2013 changes relating to 'uprating'. This includes people progressing from SLO to TLO.
Qualified Adults are no longer entitled to the full personal rate of the qualifying DSP payment.
A person participating on DSP Work programmes (CE, Tús, RSS etc) , Work Placement programmes (JobBridge etc), Back to Work schemes, VTOS or FAS schemes must establish an entitlement to a qualifying DSP payment in order to qualify for BTEA at the applicable rate.
From 4 July 2013, former One Family Parent customers affected by age related changes to OFP in full-time education who did not opt for BTEA at the start of the course may be admitted to BTEA 'mid course' where OFP is being withdrawn due to the age of the youngest child.
1st June 2014:
All new BTEA (Jobseeker) applications from June 2014 will require Case Officer recommendation.
Applicants wishing to pursue the new Professional Masters of Education (L9) will be able to avail of BTEA if they have 312 days (12 months) on a qualifying payment and satisfy all other criteria. Illness Benefit recipients require 2 years or more to qualify.
BTEA applicants who already hold a Fetac Level 5 or Fetac Level 6 qualification may be allowed to pursue a course of study at either of these levels in limited circumstances and will require Case Officer approval.
National Framework of Qualifications
The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) has been in place since 2003. The NFQ is designed for the development, recognition and award of qualifications based on standards of knowledge, skill and competence acquired by learners. The Framework consists of 10 levels, from basic learning to Doctoral awards. Thus, it is designed to accommodate all types of education and training, wherever it takes place.
The NFQ is underpinned by legislation. This legislation established three new bodies. The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland has responsibility for leading the development and implementation of the NFQ.
FETAC (The Further Education and Training Awards Council) makes awards at NFQ Levels 1 to 6.
HETAC (The Higher Education and Training Awards Council) makes awards at NFQ Levels 6 to 10. Awards (qualifications) made within schools, universities and Dublin Institute of Technology are also included in the NFQ.
If a question arises from an individual who obtained their qualifications in another country and are now questioning their entitlement to BTEA. To get the Irish equivalent of their qualification under the National Framework of Qualifications, they should contact the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) formerly known as National Qualifications Authority of Ireland. This is the Irish centre for the recognition of international qualifications, known at Qualifications Recognition - Ireland. The Authority represents Ireland in a European Network of centres. The aim of this website is to provide information regarding the services provided by Qualifications Recognition Ireland. The website is www.qualrec.ie. The person should be directed to Qualifications Recognition, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) , 26-27 Denzille Lane, Dublin 2 Tel 01 9058100. The website is www.qualrec.ie. Specific queries can be submitted online to www.qqi.ie
Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC):
In whereas FETAC awards are generally second level, BTEC awards can be either second or third level. BTEC is a British educational awards body and, at present, there is no definite alignment between BTEC awards and Rep. of Ireland awarding bodies. Following consultation with the National Qualifications Authorities of Ireland (NQAI) at present, the following criteria regarding BTEC awards applies:
- BTEC National Diploma is considered second level
- BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) is considered third level