1. Do your research Before you begin your application process you should research what funding options are currently available and whether you are eligible or not. Remember some colleges may offer additional financial supports to students so it's worth finding out what other funding streams may be available to you. Visit www.studentfinance.ie for more information. Also check college websites for up to date Information on additional grants and scholarships. Alternatively you can download the AONTAS Information booklet here.
The introduction of the new Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill is yet another piece in the jigsaw as the further education and training sector undergoes its most radical reform yet. At the end of last May the Bill returned to the Dáil for a second stage. So what are the implications of the Bill, and why introduce it in the first stage?
This blog has been pretty quiet over the last few months, but that's not reflective of the level of activity within AONTAS, we can assure you. Over the last few months we've been busy watching developments as the new training and further education authority SOLAS begins to take shape. We made an extensive submission to the consultation process earlier this year and also held an event at the end of February where thirty adult learners met members of the Implementation Group to discuss their experiences of accessing further education and training. Based on what our members have told us, here are five priorities for further education in Ireland.
Following weeks of speculation, yesterday the coalition government revealed a range of public spending cuts, which will affect a wide range of groups in society. As everyone tries to come to terms with the impact of the cuts, here are some thoughts on how the budget will affect adult learners or people thinking of returning to education.
Last week AONTAS held the first ever conference on community education in Ireland. Over 200 attended the conference, called 'Making a living, making a life'. The purpose of the conference was to focus on the dual role of community education, supporting people to get employment but also in social inclusion. A practical outcome of the conference was to get those attending to propose how community education might fit within the new SOLAS training and education authority. What really came across was the richness and diversity of community education. Those attending included tutors, learners, community education facilitators, community education providers based in the community and voluntary sector and people with a role in policy formulation.
Professor John Field on the challenge of measuring the value of community education.
Community based adult learning is paradoxical. Everyone commends it in principle, but in practice it always has to justify its place. This has been the case for all of my working life time, so the idea that we need to argue our corner is not new. What is new is that funding agencies now demand evidence of impact, a demand that can only grow as pressure on resources intensifies. And what is also new is that we can now marshall a very clear and powerful case for the positive impact of community based learning.
The 2nd Adult Learners' Forum of Ireland (ALFI) meeting took place on October 26th in the Ashling Hotel, and despite the horrendous weather of the previous days, fifty learners from across the country gathered to discuss and hear about Local Adult Learner Forums.
A full report of the day will be made available and put on the ALFI section of the AONTAS website in due course, but here are some of the details of how the day unfolded.
What is the only form of education that gives you skills for employment, builds your confidence and creates healthy, critically thinking, active communities?Community education emerged in Ireland in the 1980's, as a response to consequences of the recession such as unemployment, addiction and disenfranchisement. Now, in the midst of another recession some thirty years later, community education is coming into its own again, providing education which is relevant, learner centred, and sowing seeds for social action.
Learners at the ALFI meeting in Athlone in November 2010
At last year's Adult Learners' Forum of Ireland (ALFI) meeting, one of the main areas of discussion was how to develop a sustainable national platform for Adult Learners. Participants at the inaugural ALFI meeting not only wanted to see a strong national voice, they realised that if it was to grow and develop, it needed to be built on solid foundations.