Register Your Interest: Nurturing Skills Learner Fund 2024

Portobello Institute is participating in the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Scheme (NSLF) to help early years educators upskill to gain level 7 and level 8 Early Childhood Care and Education qualifications. As places will be limited please register your interest by submitting the form below and our expert advisor Sarah Coyne will be in touch with you.

Key dates released by Pobal - find out more below.

Enquire Now - Limited Spaces Available

What's the latest on the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund?

Key dates released by Pobal 

Pobal has released key dates for those interested in applying to the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund (NSLF). The scheme will provide substantial financial support for gaining your level 7 BA (Ord) Early Childhood Care & Education degree, covering 80% of the fees - bringing the annual cost of this course with Portobello Institute to €720. 

It is important to note and meet the following deadline dates.

Late applications will not be considered by the NSLF.

Step 1: Before 7th June 2024

Applicants can email Pobal, at NSLF@pobal.ie to request a link to the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Student Portal. 

Use the link you receive to verify your employment record with the early years sector, by uploading proof of employment.

Step 2: Between 4th June & 21st June '24

 Once you have completed step 1 above, you will be invited to complete the full application for eligibility for Nurturing Skills Learner Funding.

 Please note the NSLF information states:

  • No applications will be considered for eligibility after the closing date of 21st June '24
  • Availability for the pilot NSLF is limited across all Higher Education Institutes. With a high level of interest in this fund, it is anticipated that the demand for funded places will surpass the number available. It is crucial to apply early to avoid disappointment.
  • You must complete Step 1 by 7th June 2024 

Step 3: Register your interest with Portobello Institute today

While awaiting a decision from Pobal, you can commence the application process with Portobello Institute and secure your place on this funded programme.

You can do this by submitting your details in the form above. Our course advisor Sarah will then be in touch with you about your application. This step takes less than 30 seconds and you can do it without leaving this page, just scroll up and complete the short form to begin your process.

Why Choose Portobello Institute?

Portobello Institute has been a leading early childhood care and education provider since 1981.

We proudly offer you

  • One-to-one support throughout your studies
  • Flexible course delivery so you can study around family and full-time work commitment
  • Experienced tutors by your side from start to finish
  • An exciting network of peers where 97% of students who start with us stay with us
  • Longstanding reputation in the early years sector
  • A fully accredited and DCEDIY-recognised degree awarded by University of Essex

Watch: What is the NSLF with College Director, Denise Flood


Watch: Why Choose Portobello Institute with Early Years Lecturer, Jacinta Murphy


Watch: How to Apply to Portobello Institute through NSLF with Admissions Advisor, Sarah Coyne

Frequently Asked Questions

Will all students be successful with their application for NSLF?

As NSLF is a pilot scheme for 2024, funding and places are limited.

How soon do you know if you are successful with the grant?

Applicants will be advised by Pobal in early July 2024 as to whether they were successful or not.

Is it only one person per setting can apply?

No, anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can apply. Applicants must be working with children in a Tusla-registered Early Learning and Care (ELC) or School Age Childcare Service for 6 months before the application and the service must have a current Core Funding contract with DCEDIY.

How Much of the Cost Does the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Scheme Cover?

Fees for the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Scheme are calculated as follows:

  • Cost per academic year: €3,600
  • Nurture Fund Grant at 80% of fee: €2,880
  • Cost to student per academic year: €720

Important: If you remain working in the early years sector for 6 months after completion of the course, you will be entitled to reclaim 10% of the total fees i.e. €360 per academic year.

The total cost to the student, after this rebate, will be €720 for the 2 years of the level 7 degree.

Payment method – pay €720 to secure your place in year 1.

A similar amount will be payable on or before 30th June 2025 to secure your place and confirm progression to year 2.

Students will need to provide evidence of NSLF approval to Portobello Institute after applying for either of the degree programmes.

How will I know if I am eligible?

According to the DCEDIY, those wishing to make an application must meet the following eligibility criteria for the NSLF:

  • be working with children in a Tusla-registered Early Learning and Care (ELC) or School Age Childcare (SAC) service,
  • the service in which the applicant is working in, must have a current signed Core Funding contract with DCEDIY.
  • Applicants must have worked within an ELC or SAC service for six months prior to their application.

Applicants must have a current application/offer for 2024/25 entry to a Level 7/8 Degree course approved by the Qualification Advisory Board (QAB) that is eligible for NSLF. In 2024 the pilot scheme is only open to those entering an approved ELC degree programme for the first time.

Portobello Institute has been providing early childhood care and education for over 40 years. Portobello Institute is approved by QAB and eligible for NSLF, officially listed here.

Which Qualification is Right For Me?

If you hold a major award in Early Childhood Care and Education or Early Learning and Care at level 6 or equivalent you can complete the BA Ord Early Childhood Care and Education degree in just two years and there will be an opportunity to go onto a one-year BA Honours (level 8) programme after its completion.

If you already hold an Early Childhood Care and Education award at NFQ level 7 you can complete a level 8 BA (Hons) Early Childhood Care & Education in one year at Portobello Institute.

Did You Know?

One-third of the early years sector working directly with children now holds a level 7 degree or higher.

The proportion of staff with a qualification at level 7 and above increased significantly from 26.6% in 2019/20 to 33.2% in 2021/2022 - a 6% increase.

Will you keep up with the graduate-led workforce in early years in Ireland?

The NSLF 2024 offers a fantastic opportunity to gain your degree and become part of the increasingly professionalised workforce.

Register your interest with Portobello Institute today to kickstart the process.

View more of our helpful resources by clicking the links below: