It is now almost ten years since the concept of the All Ireland Scholarships was first proposed by JP McManus when he expressed a strong desire to provide funds for the establishment of a third level education scholarship scheme covering the thirty-two counties of Ireland.
He stated that the Celtic Tiger would not be around forever and that education will be the key for success in more difficult times. He was also conscious of the cross border dimensions of the proposed scholarship programme and stated that the All Ireland Scholarships scheme should operate on a similar basis North and South.
The All Ireland Scholarships Programme has been in operation for nearly ten years and provides 125 Third Level Education Scholarships per annum throughout the thirty-two counties of Ireland, North and South. A minimum of two scholarships is awarded in each county each year. The scholarship programme was established in 2008 with a very generous donation of €30m from JP McManus for application as follows:
€24m to fund 100 scholarships per annum in Ireland – 26 counties
€6m to fund 25 scholarships per annum in Northern Ireland – 6 counties
€30m 1,121 scholarships have been awarded to date.
The value of each scholarship is set at €6,750 per annum in Ireland and stg£5,500 per annum in Northern Ireland, and will continue for the duration of the under graduate programmes chosen by the scholarship winners. To date amounts totaling €18.5m have been paid to scholarship recipients and 545 All Ireland Scholarship winners have already graduated.
Participation in the scholarship scheme in Ireland is confined to those who are exempted from paying the Leaving Certificate Examination fee, or are in receipt of the Educational Maintenance Allowance in Northern Ireland. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of the results of a candidate’s first attempt at the final secondary education examinations in Ireland or Northern Ireland.
In 2009 the Trustees entered into a collaboration with the Washington Ireland Program, under which the All Ireland Scholarship holders qualify as a separate category with the main universities for participation in the annual Washington Ireland Program internship scheme. Thirteen All Ireland Scholarship winners have participated in this programme to date.
The All Ireland Scholarships operate under the direction of three Trustees who are supported in the administration of the programme by the Department of Education & Skills in Ireland, and by the Department for the Economy with support from the Department of Education in Northern Ireland. The Trustees wish to record their appreciation and convey their thanks to the three Departments for the assistance which they provide on the administration of the Scholarship Scheme and to the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Burton TD, for the support which he provides.