Thousands of free and subsidised higher education places available

Pictured at the Springboard+ and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 launch are Springboard+ participant Cian Kelleher and HCI Pillar 1 participants James McDonnell, Ran Weissblech, and Piro Kocsis. (Picture: Marc O'Sullivan)

Thousands of free and subsidised higher education places will be available to people under Springboard+ and the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 Graduate Conversion Programmes for the academic year 2024/25.

The courses are open to people who are unemployed, returners, recent graduates and those who are in employment and are looking to upskill or change career. A total of 11,400 places on 355 courses are being made available nationwide.

Under the Springboard+ and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives, which are managed by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, 37% of all the courses nationwide will run entirely online, and 61% through blended learning. This means people will have access to hundreds of courses across the country.   

Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 courses are available across different sectors, with a particular focus on areas of critical skill shortages and emerging technological demand. The offering includes courses in cybersecurity; virtual reality; health innovation; logistics; climate, sustainability, and energy; and many more. 


Details of the impressive array of opportunities for upskilling and reskilling were unveiled on Tuesday 21st by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Patrick O’Donovan TD, and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education, Niall Collins TD. 

Commenting at the launch, Dr Vivienne Patterson, Head of Skills, Engagement and Statistics at the Higher Education Authority, said: “Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 offer a wide range of courses, delivered in a blended or online format, to meet the needs of individuals trying to balance work or family commitments but are also interested in a gaining a qualification to achieve career development goals, those looking for a new career, and those looking to return to the workforce or to keep their skills up to date in a transforming industry. 

“With the blended and online learning options, there are hundreds of options available to the people of Cork, which is vital in ensuring people in every corner of the country – whether they are in employment or returning to the workforce – can easily access courses. The subsidised nature of the two initiatives also ensures accessibility for a diverse group of learners, contributing to a more resilient and adaptable workforce.” 


With applications open since 21st May, applicants will find full details on the approved courses on the dedicated information and applications website

Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 represent vital funding investments in Ireland’s human capital, reinforcing the country’s commitment to education, innovation, and economic growth.