Cowen 'funding $58,000 Stanford course himself'


FORMER TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has funded his own studies at Stanford University in the United States, sources close to the family have confirmed.

Mr Cowen is undertaking a six- week course at the San Francisco university. He funded the $58,000 (€47,258) executive programme himself. “It’s a personal thing,” the sources said, following speculation in a Sunday newspaper that Enterprise Ireland may have been involved in funding Mr Cowen’s studies.

The State agency confirmed it had no connection with the course Mr Cowen was taking. The Enterprise Ireland leadership for growth programme is totally separate and aimed at chief executives and chief financial officers of Irish companies aiming for global expansion, a spokesman has said.

Mr Cowen’s course at the Stanford Graduate School of Business involves a “general management curriculum” customised “to the needs of senior executives working in global companies, government agencies, and non-profit organisations”, according to the university’s website.

A Sunday newspaper report outlined details of the programme and questioned who was funding it. Mr Cowen declined to be interviewed when approached on the campus and asked who was paying his fees on the programme.

The Irish Mail on Sunday newspaper intimated State agency Enterprise Ireland may have been involved through its leadership for growth programme.

However, sources close to the family said Mr Cowen funded his own studies, which conclude in early August.

A Fianna Fáil spokesman said Mr Cowen was a private citizen, the issue was not a party matter, and it would make no comment.

Enterprise Ireland, which has responsibility to support Irish businesses in global markets, said its programme was for very senior company management aiming to increase their leadership capability and global exports.

The spokesman pointed to record exports of €15.2 billion despite the biggest recession in the history of the State.

The leadership for growth programme has been under way for five years in conjunction with the Irish Management Institute, Stanford University, Duke University in North Carolina and IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland.

It is a customised programme for Irish business leaders put out to tender. The agency subsidises the programme but participants pay a “substantial” part of the fee.

The Enterprise Ireland spokesman said “it is one of the most successful programmes we’ve ever had”, which involved a significant amount of time on the part of chief executives and chief financial officers

Previously those in the ICT sector would go to Stanford, while IMD in Lausanne was for the food sector and Duke for construction.

Now they were “mixing them up”, and the most recent participants in the programme were 32 people in the food sector.