Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins have today (Monday, 14 June 2021) launched 10,158 places on 294 courses under Springboard+ 2021.

There are also 1,101 places on 1 and 2 year information technology (ICT) graduate conversion courses on offer under the initiative. The Human Capital Initiative (HCI) will also fund 1,869 places on 78 graduate courses.

Springboard+ provides higher education courses in areas where skills are most needed. Courses are from level 6 (certificate) to level 9 (master’s degree) on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) . They are delivered by public and private higher education institutions around the country.

Courses are free for people who are unemployed, who were previously self-employed, and people returning to work. NFQ level 6 courses (higher and advanced certificates) are also free for employed people.

For employed learners on courses from NFQ level 7 to level 9, the state pays 90% of the course fee, with learners paying just 10% of the fee. Levels 7 to 9 include ordinary and honours bachelor degrees, higher and post-graduate diplomas, and master’s degrees.

If you want to participate in Springboard+ 2021 or HCI Pillar 1 courses, you will find full details on the approved courses on the dedicated information and applications website .

Applications will open on Wednesday, 16 June, and a helpline for applicants will be available on 1800 303523.

Now in its tenth year, over 75,000 people have benefitted from the Springboard+ programme. The programme is managed by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

The National Training Fund gives funding to Springboard+ every year, with over €290m of funding provided since it started in 2011.


The HCI initiative provides additional capacity across the higher education sector to meet priority skill needs for business. Graduate conversion programmes under the HCI offer incentivised places for graduates to learn new skills in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These run alongside and add to the Springboard+ courses.

Approval has already been granted for courses under HCI Pillar 1 to run for the 2021 to 2022 academic year, as part of the approval process last year.