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Information to assist course providers in submitting proposals in 2016

This Question and Answer document aims to support prospective Springboard+ course providers in preparing proposals for this year’s Call. In the event of further queries from providers, this document will be updated, and new versions will be flagged by the appropriate date (this version = 01 February 2016)

All questions on the Call should be directed to springboard@hea.ie.

Information will be made available in due course on participant eligibility criteria and related matters for Springboard+.

What outcomes will be taken into account when evaluating this year’s call?

Primarily the expert panel will review outcomes for 2015. However where 2015 outcomes are not available (i.e. the course did not run in 2014/15) the panel will revert to the previous or most recent year’s outcomes.

Given the strong emphasis on work placement as part of Springboard

courses, what will be the approach taken for entrepreneurship courses preparing people for start-ups, self-employment, running their own business, where a traditional type of work placement with an employer doesn’t necessarily fit with the content and objectives of the course?
Relevant work placement experience remains an important component of all Springboard courses, including those focusing on entrepreneurship, business start-up, supporting job creators and self-employment. As in previous years, courses with demonstrable strong interaction between participants and employers/entrepreneurs are more likely to be successful. Springboard entrepreneurship courses with strong subsequent employment/self-employment outcomes to-date have included placement experiences for participants with companies of all types to develop their skills, including delivering business/commercial/industrial projects on a consultancy basis as well as standard work placement in a relevant company/industry setting.

Does the limit of 17 contact hours for part-time courses refer to on-campus tuition only?

The requirement for Springboard+ part-time courses is that ‘class contact hours’ do not exceed 17 hours per week. In the case of proposals for intensive, accelerated courses contact hours may be greater than 17 hours.

Are hours spent on work placement subject to the weekly limit of 17 class contact hours?

This limit applies to the teaching component of a Springboard+ course and is linked to the requirement that Springboard+ courses are offered on a part-time basis. The requirement does not extend to work placement/internship.

There are job shortages in our region that are not reflected in the Forfás guidance document. If our college proposed a course to meet such a skills shortage would it be rejected because it is not in the Guidance document?

The Forfás guidance document does not attempt to cover exhaustively all areas of growth and skills requirements in enterprise. If a provider can make an evidence-based case for a course that will lead to sustainable employment for Springboard+ participants in a locality/region it will be considered by the expert panel.

Are there a maximum number of credits a participant can undertake on a Springboard+ course?

As Springboard+ courses will vary in duration there is no maximum limit on the number of credits to be awarded. However, part-time courses must adhere to the requirement that class contact does not exceed 17 hours per week.

What is the maximum length of a Springboard+ course?

Courses offered can be no longer than 12 months in duration.

Does the maximum 12 months duration include the work placement as well the educational component?

No, the 12 months duration refers to the educational component only. This does not include proposals for 2 year, part-time ICT courses.

Do Springboard+ participants have to do an internship or work placement?

The requirement for work placement/internship to be offered for Springboard+ is not mandatory. However, all Springboard+ courses must include a dedicated job readiness/job preparation component. Details of this provision will be required as part of course proposals. A work placement or internship opportunity is strongly encouraged on part-time courses, excluding entrepreneurship courses, over 90% of Springboard courses approved in 2015 included a work placement.

What is the average work placement length?

Work placements offered to date, ranged from three weeks up to nine months.

When will the eligibility criteria for participants for this year be available?

Participant eligibility criteria will be made available in advance of this year’s opening for applications from prospective participants.

Can providers offer places on courses to non-Springboard+ participants?

Funding for approved courses will be for eligible Springboard+ participants. Overall student numbers on courses may include non-Springboard+ participants. Setting of fees for mainstream part-time courses is a matter for higher education providers.

Can a proposal include matched funding from employers?

Collaboration with employers is strongly encouraged, and this can extend to contribution of resources. The figures contained in Section 4 of the template (Cost and Value for Money) should detail the cost to be borne by the provider.

The costings for Springboard+ are based on a fee per student. However if the allocated places are not filled it can result in higher costs for providers. Can an allowance be made for fixed costs?

Allocation of funding for approved courses this year will continue to be on the basis of the cost per student as set out in Section 4 of the course proposal template. Course proposers are advised to give careful consideration to target enrolment and strategies to market course places locally and regionally.

Are FETAC Level 6 programmes eligible for Springboard+ funding?

The Springboard+ initiative is for higher education awards and so does not include courses leading to FETAC awards.

Can an individual school/department in a college register as an Administrator on SkillsDirect, the online proposal submission system?

SkillsDirect provides for a single, co-ordinating ‘Administrator’ per college who has the facility to register an unlimited number of others on the system as ‘Users’..

We have a course which is offered as a level 7 and level 8 evening course. Do we need to make two applications for the two different levels?

A provider should make a separate application for the two different levels as they will have different participant groups.

Can I get access to course proposals my college submitted to Springboard last year?

The proposals submitted under Springboard last year are still accessible through http://springboarddirect.hea.ie. You will need your username and password from last year to gain access.

Where can I see information on Springboard+ course costs in previous year(s)?

Information on average costs is available in the evaluation of Springboard+. All evaluations published to date are available at www.springboardcourses.ie/reports.

Does the job readiness component of a Springboard+ course have to be credit based?

It is not a requirement that job readiness training is credit-based.

Can providers arrange work placement as a block at the end of a course?

There are no specific requirements on when work placement is completed by participants; however it must be formally linked to a Springboard+ course for participants to be deemed eligible to continue to receive income support while on a work placement.

Can I get access to course proposals my college submitted to Springboard last year?

The proposals submitted under Springboard for last year are still accessible through http://skillsdirect2015.hea.ie and through http://springboarddirect.hea.ie for 2014 submissions. You will need your respective username and password for each year to gain access.

Appendix 1

Average Cost per Student per 10 Credits for Springboard Courses approved

Sector NFQ Level Springboard
University Level 6 233   604   208
  Level 7 875 812 1,005 894 813
  Level 8 660 853 818 1,037 844
  Level 9 1,029 1,072 987 1,026 1411
University Average All Levels 853 915 886 1,001 1080
Private Level 6 582 776 963 690 713
  Level 7 943 949 1,055 942 964
  Level 8 791 906 870 797 830
  Level 9 1,021 1,066 1,234 1,144 1061
Private Average All Levels 842 905 1,014 893 896
IOT Level 6 693 799 755 878 890
  Level 7 788 1,028 911 945 846
  Level 8 786 958 869 910 863
  Level 9 865 917 857 760 784
IOT Average All Levels 772 914 845 867 843
Overall Average All Levels 772 912 895 897 892