Limerick learners can access free higher education courses

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science, Simon Harris

PEOPLE across Limerick will have access to free and subsidised higher education courses as part of the Springboard+ initiative.

The courses are open to people who are unemployed, recent graduates, people looking to return to education, and those who are in employment or looking to upskill or change career.

Details of the programmes were announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science, Simon Harris TD, accompanied by Limerick Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins.

While a total of 904 places across 34 courses have been allocated to the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) Midlands Midwest and University of Limerick under both initiatives, 32 per cent of all the courses nationwide will run entirely online, and 67 per cent per cent through blended learning – meaning people in Limerick will have access to hundreds of courses across the country.

The courses on offer in Limerick this year include a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Process and Engineering Management, Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership for Communication and Digital Transformation, Professional Diploma in Climate Adaption and Sustainability, and a Graduate Diploma in Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence.

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Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 courses are available across different sectors, with a particular focus on areas where there are critical skill shortages in the labour market – ultimately leading to qualifications that are in demand among employers.

This includes courses on climate, sustainability, and renewable energy, as well as ICT, manufacturing and construction, engineering, financial services, medical devices, biopharma, entrepreneurship, and green skills.

Dr Vivienne Patterson, Head of Skills, Engagement, and Statistics at the Higher Education Authority, said: “In this, the European Year of Skills, we are delighted to offer courses that put reskilling and upskilling centre-stage.”

“Springboard+ has garnered huge success over the past 12 years, and we are delighted to announce the latest cohort of courses available.

“Now in its fourth year, the HCI Pillar 1 initiative also continues to offer graduate conversion courses to people across the country who may be looking to upskill for future job prosperity.

“For the first time, part-time courses are also being offered under the initiative this year.”

“With the blended and online learning options, there are hundreds of options available to the people of Limerick, whether they are in employment or returning to the workforce,” she concluded.

Minister Simon Harris said that the education initiatives will play a vital role in the country’s response to the ‘green transition’ by “providing funding for programmes in areas such as climate, sustainability, and renewable energy, which will provide the skills needed to help us reach our ambitious 2030 targets for energy efficiency and decarbonisation.”

“The initiatives will also help us to ensure that our workforce is equipped to respond to the rapid changes in the world of work brought about by digitisation, with courses spanning areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and financial technologies,” he added.