Is funding available for the development of new programmes?

Michael Cleary-Gaffney
Michael Cleary-Gaffney
  • Updated

Policy on Seed Funding for new programme development

NCI’s Strategic Plan 2022-2027 commits the College to develop and maintain successful programmes that are distinctive in design, delivery and assessment and are aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals.

It is College policy to support the Schools and CELL in the strategic planning of their programme portfolios, aligned to School and institutional strategy. To this end, the College operates a new Programme Development Seed Funding scheme whereby programme proposers, with the approval of the relevant Dean of School/Director of CELL, can apply for funding to cover expenditure needed to help develop the business and academic case for a new programme proposal that will lead to a new NCI award/qualification for learners. This document sets out the detail of the scheme, including procedures to be followed, eligible expenditure criteria and a form.

Funding allocations

The total amount of funding available will be agreed by the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Research and the Director of Finance, as part of the annual budgetary cycle. The total fund may vary from year to year. The upper limit, per single application, is €5,000.


A Programme Proposer, with the support of the Dean of School/Director of CELL is asked to complete a Seed Funding Form (SFF) when seeking funds to support the business case for development of a new academic programme. The form is provided as an Appendix A of this document. The intention is that this form will be made available online, via the NCI Support Hub (QIE Policies and Procedures section). Until this happens, the form can be completed in the normal fashion and submitted as an attachment to an email.

E-Mail applications should be made through the Quality and Institutional Effectiveness Office ( no later than two-weeks in advance of a scheduled PLM-ESG meeting.

Applications will be assessed by the Programme Lifecycle Management Executive Sub-Group (PLM ESG), chaired by the Vice-President Academic Affairs and Research. The PLM-ESG will endeavor to make a recommendation to award the full budget requested, or a portion of the proposed budget.

The PLM-ESG recommendation is subject to final, joint decision by the VP Academic Affairs and Research and the Director of Finance.

The PLM-ESG will seek to reach a recommendation based on the information provided in the application form, at the scheduled meeting. However, the PLM ESG may decide to request more information from the programme proposer and/or Dean/Director of CELL, as required, in order to help reach a recommendation.  In this scenario, a follow-up decision to recommend an application for funding can be made by e-mail communication between the PLM ESG members, with the approval of the VP Academic Affairs and Research.

The upper limit, per single application, is €5,000.  Depending on the stage of development, an application for seed funding can be submitted before a Programme Opportunity Proposal (POP) form, or along with the POP form. The fund will help to meets costs associated with activities that are needed to support:

  • the early-stage conceptualisation of/business-case development for a new programme proposal (Denoted Stages Zero and One in the PLM structure as outlined in Figure 1), or  
  • the early-stage development of an approved, new programme. 

Eligible costs:


Programme proposers may use the funds for one-off costs, including:


  • professional market research (fees) to help determine feasibility and sustainability of the programme concept/proposal;
  • one-off programme developments staff costs such as employing a short-term Associate Faculty member/other person-based expertise to develop the programme concept;
  • subsistence costs (travel, accommodation, meals etc.) associated with scheduled external meetings necessary to the proposal.


It is essential to provide a rationale for how the funds will be used and the proposed outcomes/benefits of this expenditure for programme development must be provided.


Non-eligible costs 

The Seed Funding scheme cannot be used to cover expenditure on:


  • equipment (requiring ongoing maintenance)
  • licenses for software/access to research repositories/academic journals etc. Justification for how the funds will be used and the benefits of this expenditure for programme development must be provided
  • conference costs.


Queries in relation to the eligibility of a type of expenditure should be directed to the QIE team (, in good time before the two-week deadline in advance of a scheduled PLM ESG meeting.


The application must include: 

  • The maximum amount of seed funding sought;
  • A costed forecast of how the funds will be used;
  • A rationale for howe the costed activities will support the business case for programme development/support the early-stage development a programme already approved to proceed to validation.


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