College Choice 2015: Scholarships can cushion high cost of college

Some offer financial support, others are based on academic or sporting prowess

Trinity College doesn’t feel the need to offer points concessions to attract elite performers, but does support such students through coaching, physiotherapy, medical services etc, after a normal CAO application. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill.

Trinity College doesn’t feel the need to offer points concessions to attract elite performers, but does support such students through coaching, physiotherapy, medical services etc, after a normal CAO application. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill.

 

Unlike applications for college courses, there is no central information or application for scholarships. There is some information on individual colleges’ websites or in publications such as my book Start your Career Journey Here.

Scholarships are a marketing tool used by all third-level colleges worldwide to attract the brightest and the best to their campus. In doing so they hope to enhance their international rankings in league tables such as the Shanghai Jiao or the Times Higher Education.

It is hoped academic high achievers on high points offered scholarships will graduate with first-class honours, enhancing the college’s international rankings.

There are two types of such scholarships: some offer financial and other supports based on academic or sporting/ artistic performance, once you have accepted a place on a specific third-level programme; others involve granting additional CAO points based on sporting or artistic excellence to encourage you to place a particular course/college at the top of your CAO choices.

Sports stars Maynooth University awards entrance scholarships of €1,000 to first-year students with a minimum of 500 points. UCD does the same for first years at 540 points or more. UL has a range of financial scholarships for their high- achieving sports stars and in a range of academic subjects.

All universities and ITs offer sports scholarships, including reduced costs for college accommodation, physiotherapy, nutritional advice, sports psychology, medical support and arrangements for lectures and exams missed because of sporting commitments.

The recent elite scholarships at UCD, Maynooth University and DCU offer up to 60 additional CAO points to attract elite athletes. The awards are justified as a compensation to elite performers for the time away from their studies.

Trinity College doesn’t feel the need to offer points concessions to attract elite performers, but does support such students through coaching, physiotherapy, medical services etc, after a normal CAO application.

NUIG, which competes with Maynooth University for students in the midlands, offers up to 40 additional CAO points to elite athletes. UL and UCC are standalone universities in their regions and do not see the need to offer additional CAO points to attract sporting or artistic high-fliers.

The Department of Education and Skills also has a range of scholarships. The Deis school bursaries are awarded regionally to the best-performing students in Deis schools.

Applications are not required, as the scholarship is paid automatically based on Leaving Cert results. The Ernest Walton Stem bursary provides €2,000 per year of the course to eight students from Deis schools who study science, technology, engineering and maths; applications close in July after the CAO closing date.

All-Ireland scheme Businessman JP McManus funds the All Ireland Scholarship Scheme, administered by the Department of Education.

It provides an annual payment of €6,750 to the top 100 students from disadvantaged backgrounds (as evidenced by exemption from the Leaving Cert fee) who went to a non-fee-paying secondary school who accept a place in college, based on a minimum of two from each county.

Applications are not required as they are awarded based on the Leaving Cert results. McManus provides a similar scheme in Northern Ireland – see allirelandscholarships.com.

Many other individuals have endowed specific scholarships within individual colleges, but there is no central information about such awards, which are on individual college websites.

Two scholarship funds operate in almost every institution in the State to support students.

The fund for students with disabilities is aimed at those with sensory, physical, learning or communications difficulties, to provide assistance for equipment and other supports.

All colleges have a student assistance fund to support students who encounter financial hardship which may block them from continuing their studies.

Series concluded. See also irishtimes.com/education

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