JP McManus spends €32m on college scholarships for low income students

All-Ireland programme open to 125 less well-off students annually over next decade

Limerick billionaire JP McManus is to spend €32 million on third-level scholarships for more than 1,000 students from less well-off backgrounds. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Limerick billionaire JP McManus is to spend €32 million on third-level scholarships for more than 1,000 students from less well-off backgrounds. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Limerick billionaire JP McManus is to spend €32 million on third-level scholarships for more than 1,000 students from less well-off backgrounds over the next decade.

He is due to make the announcement on Friday at an event with Minister for Education Richard Bruton in Adare, Co Limerick.

The scholarship programme will be open to 125 high-achieving students from low-income families annually in the North and the Republic

The value of each scholarship is set at €6,750 per year (or stg£5,500 in the North) and continues for the duration of the undergraduate programmes chosen by the scholarship winners.

In a statement, Mr McManus said the programme was aimed at removing some of the financial hurdles facing students seeking to enter higher education.

“ Such barriers rob high-achieving Leaving Cert students of the opportunity to access third level education,” he said.

“ I hope that the decision of my wife Noreen and our family, to fund a further ten year extension of the all-Ireland scholarships programme will help many students over the coming ten years to overcome those obstacles and build a better Ireland throughout the entire island”

McManus, a tax resident of Switzerland who made his fortune through gambling and currency trading, has a personal wealth estimated to be in the region of €1.8 billion.

Mr McManus set up the all-Ireland scholarships programme in 2008 as a partnership with education authorities. It has since provided 1,250 third-level scholarships at a cost of about €30 million.

A further €2million has been awarded to recipients of the Paddy Harrington Golf Scholarship programme in support of their third level education.

Friday’s announcement guarantees that similar numbers of students will secure funding assistance over the next ten years.

To date, more than 500 all Ireland Scholarship winners have graduated.

As part of the programme, the Department of Education will identify the two best Leaving Cert results in each of the 26 countries, along with the next 48 most successful results countrywide. Eligible students in the Republic must be in receipt of medical cards.

A similar process will occur in the North following the publication of “A” level results. Eligible students must be in receipt of the educational maintenance allowance, paid to low-income families.

Last year, Cork was the most successful county securing 14 awards, followed by Dublin (12) and Galway (10).

The most successful school was Coole post-primary school in Sligo which secured all four awards in that county.

Another feature of recent award winners has been the large numbers of non-Irish students, many of whom have only entered the Irish education system in the past few years.

Participation in the scholarship scheme in the Republic is confined to the approximate 15,000 Leaving Cert students on medical cards in over 650 non-private secondary schools.

In the North, it is limited to students who attend grant aided post primary schools or Further Education Colleges and are in receipt of the Educational Maintenance Allowance.

There is no application process for the programme in the Republic and award winners are automatically notified.

In the North, successful students have to make an application to secure an award and this requirement is promoted extensively in the post primary schools and further education colleges.