Budget 2024: Supporting adult learning will help Ireland become a more equal and just society for all

15 Aug 2023
Earlier this summer, we made our pre-budget submission to the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

You can read our pre-Budget submission in full here. 

For Budget 2024, we recommended that the Department focus on:  

  • Improving access to further and higher education for people from under-resourced communities 
  • Addressing growing levels of poverty among learners in further education and apprenticeships
  • Supporting community education organisations with multi-annual funding and better conditions for staff. 

We urge the Department to invest more in making access to further and higher education more equal. This includes more investment in community education, which tends to serve people who have had the most challenges with education and are suffering from the greatest inequalities in our society.

AONTAS Pre-Budget Submission 2023: AONTAS' Submission on the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science's estimate bid for Budget 2024
The community education sector needs multi-annual funding that covers all costs, including those relating to administration and management, governance, quality assurance, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) engagement and validation, and new and improved buildings and facilities. There needs to be permanent contracts for all staff in further and community education, with pay increases.  

We urge the Department to invest more in to enabling Education and Training Boards (ETBs) to address growing impacts of poverty on apprentices and learners in further education. The Department should increase financial supports and allowances for apprentices and learners in Further Education, in line with the real costs of living.  

We call on the Department to make affordable childcare available to any learner who needs it, through a public childcare model with onsite childcare services in adult and community education centres and bigger childcare subsidies for a broader range of adult learners. 

We sought more investment in public transport for adult learners to attend their courses and provide free public transport to all learners in further and higher education. 

We will continue to speak on behalf of our members and the needs of the adult learning sector across Ireland. Read our pre-Budget Submission in full here.