EU Travels Blog Series 2022 - Oslo, Norway

28 Jul 2022
“Banking and finance systems are all based on the history and culture of a country and they are different all across Europe. It’s important for us to remember this as we work with our European partners in adult learning.” Finance and Administration Lead at AONTAS Marta Feragalli travelled for study visit to Norway to learn more about different approaches to finance in the charity sector across Europe.

I travelled to Oslo this year to learn more about different systems of financing charity work across Europe. I am fascinated by the historical and cultural development of systems of finance and banking. These models of finance now impact how adult education is funded in Ireland and across Europe.

In Ireland at the moment, changes are being made to funding models for adult and community education.


At a policy level, we are currently debating the Future Funding of Tertiary Education, whilst our Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and Community Education groups are accessing the new Reach Fund.

As we assess these new funding models, it's really important that we look to international examples of best practice. I saw this first hand at the Banking and Finance Conference I attended in Oslo.

For instance, I learned about a Scandinavian model that provides funds but also allows a lot of autonomy to community education groups in how they use the money.

It seems systems like these reduce bureaucracy for applicants, leaving them with more time for putting the funds into practice and reaching learners.

What I also learned at the conference was that these models of funding are not created in a vacuum, they are products of our history and culture. Here at AONTAS, we value engaging with and learning from European partners. Contributing to EU Erasmus+ projects is an essential ingredient to our work. What struck me at the conference was the huge variation in financial and political systems across Europe.

In Ireland, with our small population, representative and advocacy organisations like AONTAS can access policy consultations with Government ministers. But this level of access to policy makers is not available to many of our European colleagues.

Learning like this is really important for us here at AONTAS when working at the European level, as what is normal for us may be completely alien to our Italian, Polish, Portuguese or Romanian colleagues.

As we work together across Europe on programmes like RegALE (Regional capacity for Adult Learning and Education), we have to always bear in mind that the way we do things with and for funding varies. Remembering this helps us to better work with European colleagues to create more equitable and accessible systems of adult education across Europe.

Attending this conference in Oslo helped me to gather examples of good practice from across Europe, which in turns helps us at AONTAS to develop ideas and advocate for policy solutions that will reduce educational disadvantage for adult learners and adult learning providers across Ireland through improved funding models, particularly with the current funding changes in Ireland at the moment.

This study visit took place as part of an Erasmus+ KA1 Mobility project called Build Action Mobilise (BAM). For more on AONTAS’s EU Projects, click here.

For more information, contact our Ecem Akarca, AONTAS EU Projects Officer, at: 

To apply for Erasmus+ Adult Education funding in Ireland, contact Léargas