Learner FAQs

Get the help and support you need to manage your learning journey with FAQs, guides AND more.

We are committed to providing a quality learning experience that meets your training requirements as you progress through our Programmes and beyond. Use our Learner FAQs to help guide you and answer any questions you might have.

Donegal ETB Help and Support

How do I decide what course is right for me?

Donegal ETB Adult Guidance and Information Service

The Adult Guidance and Information Service offers impartial and confidential information, advice, guidance and counselling on the educational options that are available to you both within Donegal ETB and with other education providers.  The aim of the service is to support you make the right decision about returning to education and training and to help you make those decisions within the context of your wider life.

If you are unsure about what course to do or need help on finding out which level is most appropriate for you then please call us on (074) 9178088.  When you make an appointment with the service you will be met initially by our Information Officer who will clarify your needs, provide information on courses and help you with any interests and career assessment.  You will then be referred to one to one guidance with a Guidance counsellor if you need further support.

Our Information Service is open to all.

Online Guidance and Information resources

If you prefer to do your own research, the following websites may be useful:

  • Course Finder is your local website providing up to date and comprehensive information on courses and the supports that are available to you
  •  Qualifax  is a national database of further and higher education courses provided by the department of education and skills.
  • Central Applications Office manages the national application process for entry to third level study
  • Careers  is an online career and course database us the interest profiler to help match your interests with course areas and a database of career information
  • Student Finance is an online resource detailing all aspects of funding, grants and social welfare benefits relating to education and training.
How do I apply for a Further Education and Training Course?

Applying for a Course in Donegal ETB is simple.

  • You can get in touch with the appropriate contact person detailed in the course information section in our ‘Course Finder’ page of our website.
  • You can apply online via the Fetch website or via our website www.donegaletb.ie
  • Or if you are in receipt of a jobseekers payment then your DEASP Intreo Officer will be able to refer you directly.
  • Finally, If you have any difficulties with any of the above routes please get in touch with the Donegal Adult Guidance and Information Service on  (074) 9178088, or email at  adultguidance@donegaletb.ie
How much will a course cost me?

In many cases for our full-time courses the training is FREE.  In fact you may be entitled to a Training Allowance.

Full-time training courses through Traineeships, Specific Skills Training and Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) are free to all learners and part-time provision through the Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) is free to those in receipt of a Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection payment or to a medical card holder or people who have less than an upper-second level education.

Traineeships* and VTOS Schemes allow those who are long-term unemployed to avail of full-time training courses and continue to receive payments by way of a training allowance, in some instances learners may also be entitled to travel and meal allowances (some conditions may apply).

*There are a small number of specialised courses that may have associated costs.

Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are subject to a Government Levy of €200.00 plus an additional registration fee of €100.00.  The registration fee will cover the cost of books, exams and photocopying.

The following categories of participants are exempt from paying the €200 Government Levy plus €50 QQI exam fee

  • Full medical card holders in their own right and their dependent children
  • Those who are eligible under the student grant scheme
  • Those in receipt of the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA)

Back to Education Allowance (BTEA)
If you are unemployed, parenting alone or have a disability and are receiving certain payments from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection you may able to take part in a second or third level course and receive a Back to Education Allowance (BTEA).  For more information contact your local Welfare office or visit www.welfare.ie

The Youthreach Programme is free to early school leavers or those aged between 16 and 20 years old.  Training allowance will be paid to learners: €40.00 per week for those aged 16 and 17 and €198 (subject) to change per week for those aged 18 and over.  Travel and meal allowances are also available.

The Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) offers part-time courses to people aged 18 years + with no formal second level education.  The courses are free to participants (or their dependents) who

  • Have less than an upper-second level education or
  • Are in receipt of jobseeker’s payment or means-tested social welfare payment or
  • Are getting family incomes supplement or
  • Have a medical card

In some cases, fees may still apply, for more information contact Donegal ETB on (074) 9164199

Training Services Part-Time Provision (Evening Classes) Learners in receipt of a Department of Employment Affairs and Social Welfare Payment may be entitled to a fee waiver depending on the type of payment they are receiving.  Part-time evening classes may have some associated costs for those who are in employment.  For More information, contact Training Services on (074) 9120500.

The following website www.student finance.ie is an online resource detailing all aspects of funding, grants and social welfare benefits relating to education and training.

*For more information on the above programmes or if you would like to speak to the coordinator for any of the above programmes please visit the FET Programmes Explained section on this website 

Is there any funding available for full time study?

Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI)

SUSI is Ireland’s national awarding authority for higher and further education grants.  The total amount of grant that a student is entitled to will depend on a student’s reckonable income.  You can check out the Eligibility Reckoner on the SUSI website to find out if you meet the criteria to receive a grant.

Eligibility normally depends on the following:

  • You must be Irish, EU EEA or Swiss National or have specific leave to remain the State and you must be ordinarily resident in Ireland, EU EEA or Switzerland for 3 of the last 5 years.
  • You must be progressing in your education (increasing your level of education on the NFQ and you must be attending an approved course in an approved institution.
  • In some cases, you may be eligible for funding as a second chance student where you have previously attended but not completed a course; and have a 5 year break in studies since leaving a course.
What other sources of funding, information and supports are available?

Childcare Employment and Training Scheme (CETS)

The CETS Scheme can provide full-time, part-time or after school childcare for those who have a childcare need when in vocational training through Further Education and Training (FET) services.  CETS is administered through Donegal County Childcare Committee.  Places are allocated on a first come first served basis.  To apply for a place in CETS, parents must obtain a letter of eligibility once accepted on to a place onto a Donegal ETB course.  The maximum fee a parent will pay is €25.00 on a full-time place, €15.00 for a part-time place or an afterschool place with pick up service, or €5.00 for an after school only place.  The subsidy is only payable for the duration of the course.  If you leave the course, the payment will cease immediately.

For more information on the CES scheme contact Donegal County Childcare Committee on (074) 9123442 or email info@donegalchildcare.com

Higher Education Authority for Students with Disabilities

The HEA fund provides grants towards the provision of service and purchase of equipment for Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) Learners with disabilities, for example, personal assistant, sign language interpreter, dyslexia support, note taker, transport, additional tuition, assistive technology.

Learners with disabilities/learning difficulties are advised to disclose their disability/learning difficulty on their PLC application and at the time they register for a Donegal ETB PLC course.  The PLC college will then contact the learner who discloses their need for support and will apply to the ESF fund for Students with Disabilities where appropriate.

Student Finance

Student Finance is a Government website which provides a user friendly source of information on financial support for further and higher education.  For more information visit www.studentfinance.ie

Am I eligible to be paid a training allowance?

Courses provided by the ETB’s FET service are free and within most of our full-time courses you may be paid a training allowance for the duration of your course. (***With the exception of PLC courses***) You may also claim an accommodation allowance if you need to live away from home for the duration of the course or a travel allowance and in some cases a meal allowance is payable. You may qualify for a free childcare place for your child under the CETS or Affordable Childcare scheme. Training allowances are not taxable.

Your nearest ETB FET centre can advise of your  entitlement to any allowances whilst on a full time FET course.

Young people attending the Youthreach programme automatically receive a training allowance depending on their age – €45 for 16 and 17 year olds and €203 for 18+ year olds.

I have a disability/specific needs, what support is available for me?

If you have a disability and/or specific needs, we have a range of programmes catering for your requirements, in addition other training supports can be provided such as:

  • adaptive technologies, for example screen reading software;
  • suitable furniture, equipment or devices;
  • adjusting or modifying examinations, for example by allowing extra time or providing a reader or scribe;
  • provision of a reader or interpreter service.

It is important Donegal ETB know about your needs relating to your disability at the time of course selection/recruitment in order to facilitate a discussion about which programmes are most suitable. It will also assist us in providing any additional training supports that are needed. If your circumstances have changed from the time you have joined ETB as a learner, please contact the Adult Guidance and Information Sevice for help and advice on (074) 917 8088.

*Please refer to the ‘What Other Sources of Funding, Information and Supports available or the ‘Am I eligible to be paid a training allowance?’ sections in the FAQ menu for more information on the grants available from The Higher Education Authority for students with disabilities.

Is my course still going ahead, I applied but have not heard anything back yet?

An applicant receives an automatic response once they make a course application online to inform them that their application has been received and contact will be made in due course.

If you have applied for a course online through Fetch courses but have not yet had a response after the initial automatic response, don’t panic, course recruitment or your course coordinator will make contact with you closer to the scheduled start date of the course.

Please go to the course finder  section on the ETB website for information on course content, contact details of the course coordinator and information on any other provisions in place for the course.

Is there a timetable available online for my course?

Course start dates can vary depending on demand and for this reason, Donegal ETB does not issue class timetables in advance. If you require further information, please contact the relevant course co-ordinator for more information on our Course Finder  section of the website.

How can I apply for funding to run a course through the ETB?

The Community Education Programme supports community education providers to deliver low-cost, locally based education opportunities for groups of people who do not usually avail of such opportunities.  For more information on how to apply for funding, view the application form or speak to any of the Community Education Programme coordinators, please visit The Community Education Programme section of our website.

What should I do if I am unable to attend my course?

If you are unable to attend the course for any reason, you must notify your tutor, instructor or employer on the morning of your absence. Craft Apprentices and Learners on work placement must also notify their tutor or instructor and employer.

Your tutor/instructor/co-ordinator will record details of your absence on the Weekly Summary Attendance Sheet.

What happens if I don’t contact my tutor, instructor or employer?

If you don’t contact your tutor, instructor or employer and don’t attend training for three consecutive days, it will be assumed that you have left the training course. If this happens your participation on the training course will be reviewed and you may be removed from the course.

Will I get paid during an absence from my course?
  • If you are sick and unable to attend your course, you must notify your tutor, instructor or employer on the morning of your absence.
  • If you don’t contact your tutor, instructor or employer and don’t attend your course for three consecutive days, it may be assumed that you have left the course. If this happens your participation on the course will be reviewed and you may be removed from the course.
  • You will not receive payment for absences related to sickness that are uncertified. To avoid unnecessary hardship, the payment of accommodation allowances and fuel allowances (where applicable) can be continued for the period of both Certified Sickness and Uncertified Sickness, which in its nature will be for short periods.
  • The payment of supplementary allowances (i.e. meals and travel) can be continued if you are in attendance in the training week (1 day minimum).

What if I am absent due to a medical, dental or optical appointment?

  • You will be paid for reasonable absences arising from medical appointments. These include hospital visits for medical tests and scans, as well as consultant, dental or optical appointments.
  • Payment will require proof of appointment, for example a copy of a letter of appointment.
  • Every effort should be made to limit the duration of the absence.

What if I am absent due to a family bereavement?

For absence arising from the death of a spouse/partner or child you will be paid up to five days compassionate leave if you are in receipt of a training allowance.

For absence arising from the death of an immediate family member, you will be paid a maximum of three days compassionate leave if you are in receipt of a training allowance. Your immediate family is defined as your parent (or step-parent/parent-in-law), brother (or step-brother/brother-in-law), sister (or step-sister/sister-in-law), grandparent or grandchild.

You will receive one day compassionate leave for other close relatives including uncle, aunt, niece or nephew.

What documentation is required if I am unable to attend my course?

Supporting Documentation Required for Paid Absence

We must receive the original copy of a doctor’s certificate within two weeks of the first day of absence due to sickness.

For medical, dental or optical appointments, you must provide proof of the medical appointment before the appointment. In the case of an emergency, you must provide proof the next working day after an appointment.

Certified Sickness Payments to Learners in Receipt of a Donegal ETB Allowance

Payments are made for certified sickness to learners who are in receipt of a Donegal ETB Training Allowance. The rules governing the payment of allowances for certified sickness are as follows:

  1. a) For learners in receipt of a Donegal ETB Training Allowance that were not in receipt of a disability-related payment from the Department of Social Protection before starting the course, the following rules apply:

Once a valid doctor’s certificate is received within the required time, payments are made for certified sickness absence. However, there are some restrictions. For example:

  • A maximum of six days’ sickness payments can be paid in any rolling three-month period.
  • If a learner is absent through illness for longer than six days, they should contact their local Department of Social Protection Office regarding entitlements to benefits.
  • Apprentices should contact their employer regarding any payments they may be eligible for.
  1. b) For learners who were in receipt of a disability-related payment from the Department of Social Protection before starting the course, the following rules apply;

Once a valid doctor’s certificate is received within the required time, payments are made for certified sickness absence. However, there are some restrictions. For example:

  • A learner with a disability will continue to receive a training allowance for a total of 20 working days certified sick leave in any four-month period.
  • If a learner has a total of 20 days’ sick leave over a four-month period, we will review the situation with the learner.
  • If the learner is unlikely to be able to continue the training course, arrangements will be made between Donegal ETB and the Department of Social Protection to restore the person’s social welfare payment.
  • Further clarification on the above and any other restrictions relating to a learner’s specific circumstances should be discussed with their instructor, tutor or employer.

Deduction of Meals and Travel Allowance for Learners Absences

Deductions will be made to meal and travel allowances based on learner absences. These deductions will be based on the number of meals or journeys that did not take place due to the learner’s absence.

If you are absent due to illness, the payment of meals and travel allowances can be continued if you are in attendance in the training week (1 day minimum).

I’m pregnant, what leave am I entitled to?

You are entitled to 26 consecutive weeks’ basic maternity leave. Maternity leave is generally taken two to four weeks before the expected birth. You must take at least two weeks before and four weeks after your expected week of confinement. The expected week of confinement is the week that the doctors expect you will give birth. You are entitled to an additional 16 weeks of unpaid leave immediately after your basic maternity leave ends.

How much notice should I give to Donegal ETB about maternity leave?

You should notify your tutor or instructor as soon as possible so that we can ensure that we can support you and your requirements during your pregnancy.

You must give us at least 4 weeks’ written notice that you intend to take maternity leave. You must provide a medical certificate confirming the expected date of confinement. You must tell us in writing that you intend to take the 16 weeks’ additional unpaid leave either;
· on the date that you notify us that you intend to take basic maternity leave; or
· at least 4 weeks before the end of the 26 weeks’ basic maternity leave period.
You must inform us in writing that you intend to return to training at least four weeks before your intended date of return. We will try to facilitate you as far as is reasonably practicable to complete your training. You may have to complete your training at a later date or a different location if your original training programme has finished since you went on maternity leave.

Do I get paid Maternity Benefit or Training Allowances while I’m on maternity leave?

We do not pay Maternity Benefit or Training Allowances during the period of maternity leave. You should contact your local Department of Social Protection office as early as possible to discuss any entitlements that you may be due during your maternity leave. We may advise and give you time to visit your local Department of Social Protection Office once you give us notice that you intend to take maternity leave.

Can I take time off for medical appointments?

As an expectant mother, you may take reasonable time off for medical visits connected with the pregnancy. There is no maximum or minimum amount of time off specified for these visits. You are entitled to as much time off as is necessary to attend each visit. This includes the time required to travel to and from the appointment and the time taken for the appointment itself. You must, where practicable, give two weeks’ notice of your medical visits. You should show your appointment card if requested by Donegal ETB at any time after your first appointment. If you receive a training allowance you are entitled to be paid while keeping these medical appointments for the duration of the course.

Can I take time off for ante-natal classes?

You are entitled to take time off to attend one complete set of antenatal classes during your pregnancy except for the last three classes of the set. An expectant father is also entitled to time off, on a once-off basis, to attend the last two antenatal classes.

Health and Safety

We may ask you for confirmation from your doctor that it is safe for you to continue your training. This will depend on the type of training programme you are doing. If a risk is identified, we may suspend all or part of your training in the

What support is there for childcare?

Childcare provision is made available under the Childcare Employment and Training Support scheme (CETS). CETS can provide full-time, part-time or after school childcare places for your child and is administered by Donegal County Childcare Committee.

Donegal ETB courses run through the Youthreach, Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS), the Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) and Further Education and Training courses such as specific skills training and traineeships qualify for CETS.

The number of places on CETS is limited and places are allocated on a first come first served basis. You may qualify for a childcare place while on a qualifying Donegal ETB course if:

  • You are the main carer of a child or children
  • You need assistance with childcare in order to take up an education or training opportunity

Under the CETS scheme, the maximum amount a childcare provider may charge per child per week is:

  • Full-time: €25 per week
  • Part time: €15 per week
  • Afterschool: €5 per week
  • Afterschool with pickup service: €15

*Services may not charge for weeks where the service is not open.

When you apply for a qualifying course you should let the course co-ordinator know that you have childcare needs and want to be considered for CETS. When you get your letter offering you a place on a qualifying course,you will be given a list of local childcare providers that operate under the CETS scheme. You should use this letter to book a place for your child or children with a childcare provider.

When your training starts you will get a letter confirming that you have started the course and giving the start and finish dates. You should show this letter to the childcare provider to confirm the duration of your childcare place.

For more information, please contact your Centre Manager/Course Co-ordinator or Donegal County Childcare Committee on 074 91 23442.

 

 

What is the National Framework of Qualifications?

The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) has been designed to allow students to compare and classify qualifications across ten levels ranging from the very initial stages of learning to the most advanced stages. Each level is based on nationally agreed standards of what an individual is expected to know, understand and be able to do following successful completion of a programme of learning.

An awarding body is a national body that has the authority to award a qualification in order to recognise learning which has taken place. There are a number of national awarding bodies that have their awards included in the NFQ such as Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and the State Examination Commission (SEC) which accredits the Junior and Leaving Certificate. Awarding bodies such as City and Guilds and specific professional industry qualifications in Ireland and the UK have also been included in the NFQ.

The NFQ can help you make informed decisions about which level, of course, is appropriate for you and to make it easier for you to explain the qualifications you hold and those for which you are studying. This becomes very important when you are considering further learning or entering employment both here in Ireland and abroad.  For more information on the National Framework of Qualifications please click here.