The National College of Ireland (NCI) was forced to cancel a training course for budding entrepreneurs after it could not get the Fás funding it needed to continue providing the course to people on the dole, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

This is despite the fact it had a waiting list of 26 people who wanted to avail of the specialist course, with a view to becoming entrepreneurs themselves and ultimately creating employment.

The NCI, which is based in the Irish Financial Services Centre, confirmed that it successfully ran two programmes on entrepreneurship last autumn. These were funded by Fás and received excellent student feedback.

The courses each had an intake of 30 students, and focused on helping students to formulate business ideas that could be presented to potential investors.

"Both these programmes were over-subscribed. Un­successful applicants for the second programme were placed on a waiting list in the event that this programme would be offered to additional groups of students," the NCI spokeswoman said.

"In total there were 26 people on this waiting list. As funding was not yet in place, in February NCI sought to run the course on a fee-paying basis. Due to insufficient applicants ? seven in total ? this was not a viable option.

"National College of Ireland, as part of its ongoing engagement with Fás and other government agencies, is examining funding options for future cohorts of the entrepreneurship programme and other courses."

A Fás spokeswoman said it had piloted the entrepreneurship training course with the NCI. This involved running two courses on a pilot basis only.

"The pilot has been completed and the programme is currently being evaluated. This is standard practice for piloted training courses of this nature," she said.

However Labour Party enterprise spokes­man Willie Penrose said he was "absolutely flabbergasted" to hear that the necessary funding had not been provided to allow all applicants to proceed with the course.