We here at Oxygen.ie and SMEDIAS 2024 are pleased to announce Griffith College as a sponsor for this year’s Feature Writer of the Year – News and Current Affairs Award. In acknowledgement of the third level education Griffith College provide and of the International Day of Education, we at Oxygen.ie are turning our attention to other growing educational initiatives in Ireland that can be availed of in 2024. 

Griffith College offers a variety of undergraduate certificates and free courses in Dublin and Limerick, fully funded through the Springboard+ Initiative. Griffith College Dublin offers a variety of Bachelor’s degrees, certificates and higher diplomas in Industrial Engineering, Music Production and Web Development, while Griffith College Limerick offers courses in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. Griffith is Ireland’s largest independent college, offering high profile academics with a student-centred approach.

Upskilling and training in new or specialised sectors are becoming more and more popular in today’s world of work. Many third-level institutions dedicate themselves to upskilling the workforce in Ireland by offering higher education courses at reasonable rates on the Springboard+ website. This is a government initiative that offers free or heavily subsidised courses at certificate, degree, or masters level. Availability of courses are changeable per annum and their contents are often tailored to areas where there are employment opportunities in the economy. Springboard+ actively prepares people for being reintroduced to the workplace while complementing their experience with additional skills and knowledge. 

Springboard+ is co-funded by the Government of Ireland, via the National Training Fund, and the European Union. 

What courses are available?

The list of courses available for registration changes every academic term, depending on demand within the economy and institutions willing to accommodate new classes. If a course is successful with class numbers and results, it is more likely that institutions will continue to offer the same ones for an additional academic year. 

For example, Griffith College is offering four Springboard+ courses to begin in February 2024, with registration open until January 26, 2024. Each course is specialised to different sector in its contents and qualification level. At present, Griffith College is taking applications for a B.A. of Engineering in Industrial and Systems Engineering (NFQ Level 7) on part-time basis. This is ideal for students looking to build upon their skills in engineering, manufacturing, and construction. Alternatively, students interested in arts and humanities can avail of a Certificate in Music Production for Games (NFQ Level 6) at Griffith College. Like the majority of Springboard+ courses, the duration is for one year on a part-time, blended delivery basis.  

The most reputable universities and colleges in Ireland have seen the value in the facilities provided by Springboard+ and have added their own courses to the registration list for 2024. Aside from Griffith College, institutions such as TU Dublin, University of Limerick, Dundalk Institute of Technology, and ATU Galway Mayo have added their own array of study options on Springboard+. 

Who is eligible? 

Unemployed individuals who are out of full-time education can avail of free courses on this site and participate in courses on a full-time, part-time, or flexitime basis. There is also an option for employed students to apply for specific courses with the stipulation that they pay ten percent of the fee for NFQ Levels 7, 8, and 9 courses. This is a bargain when compared to full-time university fees, meaning students have opportunities to develop more practical skills and knowledge at heavily discounted rates. In addition, schedules are more flexible with Springboard+ due to the blended delivery methods. 

When can you register? 

There is a wide range of courses offered on a rolling basis, depending on the availability of lecturers and the institutions’ schedules. For example, one may apply for a specific course in August and start in September while other applications are due in January with a projected start date in February. 

Class sizes are not especially large for most institutions. Therefore, it is advisable to get this information as soon as possible in advance of your application deadline. 

Where can you access courses?

To access courses, students must first register on the Springboard+ website and complete an application. Individual eligibility standards apply to each course so it is recommended that you read them thoroughly to understand if you qualify and how the courses will be delivered. 

Most courses are available on a hybrid schedule for students’ convenience. The hybrid approach to learning via virtual and in-person lessons has become a more common format for education since the pandemic. Virtual communication has made it increasingly easier to participate in classes and submit assignments remotely. However, Springboard+ courses still value face-to-face learning and attempt to facilitate it as much as possible. For example, there may be an in-person class scheduled once every other week. This increases interactivity between students, enabling them to collaborate directly. There is an added benefit to the hybrid schedule in that students can manage their time more efficiently and continue with any part-time work hours. 

Why is this worthwhile?

While the content of Springboard+ education is unpredictable on an annual basis, it offers an opportunity for students to explore specific interests and upskill in those areas. Where traditional education may not be suitable or feasible, Springboard+ can meet the needs of an individual by catering to their schedules, current state of finances, and state of work. There is still a great deal of work, time, and dedication required from students on these courses and high-quality results are expected. They are still treated as higher education albeit with a more informal structure and style of teaching. 

How to start applications? 

Visit Springboard+ website today to register for your course of choice and get in contact with the institutions for more in-depth details about what these qualifications can offer you. 

American broadcaster Walter Cronkite once stated: 

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation”.

The power of education is not to be underestimated, even in today’s digital world where facts are at our fingertips. It should be valued and never taken for granted. The reality is that education is an investment in your future, and it requires a strong support network to be effective. The dedicated educators and national funding involved in Springboard+ indicates that it is becoming a strong support network for students. 

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