How to Secure Employer Funding for a Part Time Course

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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In recent years there has been a surge in applications for part-time third-level courses by people in employment. This makes sense. They want to bolster their chances of holding on to their position or of gaining a promotion.

Very many of these part-time students cover the full cost of education themselves. However, some employers are willing to support further education for the long-term good of the company.

Research your options

If you hope to get financial support, you will first need to research your options. Your employer will want to know how this course will help meet business needs. Keep that question in mind when you research alternatives. You should consider these three issues:

  • The industry you are in
  • The direction your position is likely to go in within that industry
  • Whether you want to remain there at all

Once you have a shortlist of courses, have an initial chat with your employer. Ask about their educational assistance policy for third-level funding to avoid any mismanagement of expectations.

They may be willing to fund one of your chosen courses over another for example. Therefore it’s important to have a number of options available. However, they may not have a budget for education assistance at all. In this case you will have to thinking about funding it entirely by yourself.

Some companies will contribute towards a course after you have completed. By covering the cost yourself, you have demonstrated your commitment the course.

Preempt objections

Outline your case for funding succinctly, and preempt questions such as:

  • Will it benefit your current role?
  • How will you manage your college assignments/exams and your work commitments?
  • Do you have a plan to get to and from college without impacting your work?

You may hope to get a promotion after gaining extra qualifications. However, there may not be a route to promotion in your current role which is, after all, what the company pays you to do.

These are real challenges studying and working. Nevertheless, plenty of people have successfully achieved this with smart planning and time-management.

Outline the benefits

Your employer may ask you to outline benefits of the course to both the company and yourself. This document should be brief but very clear on what the actual benefits will be. Re-write it a couple of times. You must make sure you are conveying the right message with no unnecessary waffle. Essentially, your employer is looking for a projected return on investment from you.

The company may ask you to sign an agreement agreeing to pay for any exam re-sits yourself. In addition, you may need to reimburse any funding you received to your employer if you voluntarily leave your job within approximately two years of completing the course. These agreements are standard practice and ensure fairness to both parties.

Even after submitting these documents, your request may have to be considered by a group of managers. They may also want to ask you more question. This is particularly true if it is an expensive course such as an MBA.

Unfortunately, your request may be declined regardless of how well you have sold it. Have your fallback position ready: ask them if the situation can be reviewed in six month’s or a year’s time. Ask if you will be rewarded in any capacity on completion of the course, if not monetarily, perhaps you could secure some other coveted benefit?

Monica Murphy

Anne Sexton

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