An Cosán community education provider shortlisted for AONTAS STAR Award

An Cosán graduates IT Carlow 2022

An Cosán, Ireland’s largest provider of community education, has been shortlisted in the AONTAS STAR Awards. The STAR Awards (Showcasing Teamwork, Awarding Recognition) is an awards initiative organised by AONTAS, the national adult learning organisation, to recognise and celebrate the work undertaken by adult learning initiatives throughout the island of Ireland. An Cosán, which is based in Jobstown but reaches adult learners nationwide through its online courses, is one of three organisations to be shortlisted in the Third Level Access and Engagement category of the awards.

An Cosán was shortlisted in recognition of its wraparound learner supports, including free childcare, IT support, one-to-one mentoring and counselling as well as its range of financial supports that aim to support adult learners wishing to return to education. By working with the Institute of Technology Carlow, corporate partners and a network of over 200 community partner organisations around Ireland, An Cosán facilitates students to access technology, create peer-learning communities and gain funding opportunities. The STAR Awards recognise the very best in adult learning in Ireland with this year’s awards focussed in particular on celebrating and acknowledging the incredible work that adult learning providers have done in adapting during COVID-19 to ensure that the needs of adult learners continue to be met. The annual awards are judged by an independent judging panel comprising of adult learning experts, tutors and adult learners. As part of the judging process, the judging panel interviewed three An Cosán staff members and An Cosán graduate Tanya Johnston, who spoke at An Cosán’s online International Women’s Day celebration last year. 

An Cosán CEO Heydi Foster says she and her staff were delighted to hear their wraparound supports initiative had been shortlisted in the STAR Awards. “Our holistic ethos and our unique education model are central to facilitating students’ success and it is wonderful to have our unique supports recognised in this way,” she says. “Our aim is to support those left furthest behind first and our students report increased self-confidence as a primary outcome achieved through participation in the programme. Our service is learner-centred, with each learner having their own personal learning plan. “We strive to see our learners reach their full potential to ensure they have a brighter future for themselves, their families and their communities.”

Winners will be announced during AONTAS’s Adult Learners’ Festival, which starts on 7th March. The festival is a nationwide celebration of adult learning, offering organisations and groups the chance to have a positive impact in their community or workplace, to promote the value of lifelong learning, and to reinforce existing partnerships in the community and establish new ones.

An Cosán offers a wide range of courses, including Access and Further Education face-to-face classes in Jobstown and degree-level programmes delivered blended or online. Find out more at, email or tel: 01 462 8488. 

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Sarah Brooks

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