About the KickStart Scholarship
Applications for the KickStart Scholarship are open. Please review the Application Timeline 2022/2023 below for information on the key dates.
The KickStart Scholarship Fund is a newly established scholarship, established by the Probation Service, and supported by the Irish Prison Service, to support persons with a criminal justice history who are experiencing socio-economic disadvantage to access Higher Education (HE). These scholarships meet a strategic objective of the Working to Change social enterprise and employment strategy 2021-2023 (www.workingtochange.ie).
Maynooth University is the lead institution developing the KickStart Scholarship Fund scheme on a pilot basis in 2022/2023 in partnership with Technological University of the Shannon (Athlone Campus only), Dublin City University, Dundalk Institute of Technology (MEND Cluster). For 2022/23, the scheme will be open to new undergraduates who have either commenced third level education in September 2022 for the first time OR are currently third level students in one of these four MEND Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). It is intended that the scholarship will fund the entire duration of a student's programme of study or the remaining years of their programme of study, whichever one applies.
There are two scholarships available in each MEND HEI in 2022/23:
- One scholarship of €5000 per year of undergraduate study to a maximum of €20,000 over 4 years of a full-time course or 6 years of a part-time course.
- One scholarship of €1250 for each year of undergraduate study to a maximum of €5000 over 4 years of a full-time course or 6 years of a part-time course.
Recipients must comply with fund guidelines and progress to the next academic year of their course to retain the scholarship. Each student will receive their scholarship in two instalments – the first in Semester 1 and the second in Semester 2. In addition to the scholarship, successful applicants may avail of personal, academic, financial, and social supports through the Technological University of the Shannon (Athlone Campus only) Access Service. Applicants who are deemed ineligible for the KickStart Scholarship will also be referred, where appropriate, for these additional supports.
Please note that these scholarships are available to students applying to/or currently attending TUS Athlone Campus only.
|KickStart Scholarship application opens||Wednesday, 6 July 2022||Applicant submits information via the and gathers required supporting documentation, reaching out for support from the TUS Access team with any queries.|
|Applicant and stakeholder information sessions||Dates TBC in August 2022||These information sessions/webinars will support the application process.|
|KickStart Scholarship application closes||Saturday, 1 October 2022 at 5pm||The online form closes for accepting applications.|
|Screening of applications by TUS Selection Committee||Monday, 3 October - Friday 14 October 2022||Screening of applications by Selection Committee begins. The highest ranked applicants will proceed to interview.|
|Notifications to ineligible applicants||Wednesday, 19 October 2022||Ineligible applicants are advised about the appeals process and are offered referrals to other advisory, financial, personal, academic, technological and social supports.|
|Appeals applications opens||Wednesday, 19 October 2022||Appeals may be submitted via email in accordance with the appeals process outlined below.|
|Appeals applications closes||Sunday, 23 October 2022 at 5.00pm||The window for accepting appeal applications closes.|
|Appeals review meeting||Wednesday, 26 October 2022||Review meeting held in accordance with the appeals process.|
Communication of outcomes
|Friday, 28 October 2022||Unsuccessful appellants notified of outcome and advised of other advisory, financial, personal, academic, technological, and social supports. Eligible applicants are invited to interview and provided with instructions to upload their supporting documentation.|
|KickStart Scholarship interviews with eligible applicants.||Tuesday, 8 November 2022||The interview panel will select their highest ranked candidates.|
|Interview outcomes notified to successful and unsuccessful interviewees||Wednesday, 9 November 2022||Scholarship recipients will be invited to meet with a member of the TUS Access team to give their formal consent to the terms and conditions of the scheme.|
|Formal acceptance of Kickstart Scholarship||
Thursday, 10 November 2022
|Recipients meet with a TUS Access advisor to sign their formal consent to the terms and conditions of the KickStart Scholarship scheme.|
|First KickStart Scholarship payment to recipients||
End November 2022
|Payment will made directly to the student’s bank account by electronic transfer of funds.|
|Second KickStart Scholarship payment to recipients||By mid-February 2023||Payment will made directly to the student’s bank account by electronic transfer of funds.|
Eligibility - who can apply?
Who is eligible to apply?
- Students that have a criminal record and are experiencing socio-economic disadvantage who are seeking to access Higher Education (HE) are the priority group for this KickStart Scholarship Fund.
- Applicants must be new undergraduates who have either applied to commence third level education in September 2022 for the first time OR current Technological University of the Shannon (Athlone Campus only) undergraduate students.
- Applicants must enrol/be enrolled on a full-time or part-time undergraduate course that takes not less than two years to complete and on the successful completion of which an applicant is awarded a major higher education and training award at level 6 or above on the National Framework of Qualifications. There is no restriction on programme of study.
- Applicants must be able to show that they have been convicted of a crime which resulted in them currently having a criminal record and have either served time in prison and/or received a community-based Probation sanction which resulted in a criminal record. As the impact of a criminal record is felt for many years after an individual has completed their court ordered sanction, there is no time limit on how recent their convictions were.
- Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they would qualify for the Student Universal Grant Scheme (SUSI) maintenance grant on or below €46,790 in 2021.
- Applicants must also have been resident in the State (Republic of Ireland) for three of the past five years on the date on which their first year of study commences.
Priority will be given to applicants who are members of one or more of the following priority groups, as this demonstrates the complexity of intersectionality of an applicant's criminal justice history and socioeconomic disadvantage.
- Applicants who qualify for the special rate of maintenance grant or with an equivalent reckonable income under €24,500 in 2021
- First time mature applicants
- Further education and training award holders
- Applicants with disabilities
- Irish Travellers and Roma
- Lone parents (confirmed by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) as holding a long-term means-tested social welfare payment)
- Applicant is or was in the Care of the State/ TUSLA
- Direct Provision residents who have been granted either refugee status, subsidiary protection status or leave to remain, and are currently transitioning out of direct provision per section 14 of the Applicant Support Act 2011 and regulation 5 the Applicant Support Regulations 2021 (Statutory Instrument No. 132 of 2021)
- Applicant who is/was previously homeless
- Applicant who is/was in supported accommodation.
Eligibility - who cannot apply?
Who is not eligible to apply?
- Applicants who do not have a criminal record.
- Applicants who already have a qualification at the same level on the National Framework of Qualifications as the course they are currently enrolled on/are intending to enrol on.
- Applicants who have received funding through another Scholarship or Bursary scheme at an equivalent value.
- Applicants on a course that takes less than two years to complete, or on the successful completion of which a student is awarded a major higher education and training award at level 5 or below on the National Framework of Qualifications.
- Applicants whose reckonable income is assessed as over the maximum income limit, currently €46,790 gross for the family in 2021.
- Applicants who have not lived for 3 of the past 5 years in Ireland.
- Postgraduate applicants.
In accordance with section 14 of the Student Support Act 2011 and regulation 5 the Student Support Regulations 2021 (Statutory Instrument No. 132 of 2021), Note: Applicants who are in the protection system or at the leave to remain or at deportation order stage are not eligible to apply for a KickStart Scholarship. Persons who are in the protection system or at the leave to remain (not at deportation order) stage however can apply to be considered for support under the Student Support Scheme for Asylum Seekers. Applicants currently living in direct provision are not eligible for support under the KickStart Scholarship scheme; the only exception is in respect of those residents who have been granted either refugee status, subsidiary protection status or leave to remain, and are currently transitioning out of direct provision.
Completing your KickStart Application
Follow these steps to ensure that you are fully prepared for the application process. As you can see, there are a number of steps and the TUS Athlone Access team want to support you in all aspects of your application. So don't get stuck. Reach out at any time by email to KickStart@ait.ie for guidance, queries, and motivation.
1. Read about the KickStart Scholarship and check your eligibility to see who can apply and who cannot apply. If you feel you will be eligible, start to gather your supporting documents early so that you can provide them if requested, after the assessment of your application form is completed.
Consider who you could ask to provide a Reference Letter to support your application. The documents each applicant should provide is listed in the and a blank Reference Letter template and guidance for your referee are contained in the
2. In your online KickStart Scholarship application form, you will be asked to enter your personal statement (400 words). The form is divided into sections and you cannot save and return to it, so we would recommend that before you start completing the form, that you first write the text for your personal statement into a Word document ready for you to copy and paste.
You are asked to consider the following in your personal statement. Tell us:
- How the KickStart scholarship would benefit you to progress your studies, future plans, goals and ambitions?
- How have your social and financial circumstances impacted on your life?
- How has your criminal justice history affected your education, training and employment opportunities?
- Why did you to choose this undergraduate course and what is your plan for when you graduate?
- What experience, skills and achievements you have that motivate you to engage with your third level studies?
- If you were successful in your application, how would you plan to spend the KickStart Scholarship?
Remember to reach out to KickStart@ait.ie if you find this step challenging and the TUS Athlone Access team can give you some guidance on this aspect.
3. Open the KickStart Scholarship application form and complete all questions and consents before 5pm on Saturday, 1 October 2022. Review the application timeline to see the progress of your application. Take a look at the confidentiality and data protection information on how the KickStart scholarship ensures that the sensitivity of your personal information is integral to the application process.
The MEND cluster is committed to ensuring that all KickStart Scholarship applications are assessed fairly, accurately, and according to the published guidelines. Applicants who are unsuccessful in their KickStart Scholarship application can appeal the outcome of screening only. Appeals will be independently reviewed on the grounds that the information provided was considered, assessed, and scored correctly. No additional documentation or information can be proved by appellants, the appeal can only be considered by reviewing the online application submitted as within the stated deadlines. An Independent Review and Appeals panel will review appeals and advise on outcomes.
Appeals Application Process
To apply for an appeal applicants must have their 9-digit CAO number or registered TUS student number ready and identify the grounds for their appeal. Appellants can email their appeal to email@example.com with the subject line: Kickstart Scholarship Appeal, within 5 days of receiving the outcome, citing their CAO/ student number and the grounds for appeal.
Appeals can only be considered on the grounds of:
- an “administrative error in assessment”. That is if the applicant believes there was an administrative error made in assessing their application.
- a belief that “insufficient weight was given to an aspect of their application” i.e., that all circumstances were not taken into account when their application was being reviewed, and something important was not considered about their personal situation.
The opening date for appeals is Wednesday 19 October 2022 and the closing date is 17:00 on Saturday 23 October 2022.
Before completing an appeal, applicants can be offered the opportunity to speak to a member of staff in the Athlone Access Office. Reach out to Kickstart@ait.ie if you find this step challenging. The TUS Access team can give you some guidance on this aspect and discuss the outcome and other supports available.
Appeals Review Process
The Appeals process is managed by an Independent Review and Appeals Panel that review all appeals and determines the outcomes. The decision of the Independent Review and Appeals Panel is final.
First, the Screening Committee will review all appeals, checking for correct grounds of appeal. A summary of all appeals will be prepared by the Screening Committee for the Review and Appeals Panel.
The Independent Review and Appeals Panel will review all appeals and record their decision.
If an error in assessment is found, the application will be re-assessed and re-scored. Applicants whose appeals are upheld and who meet the scoring criteria will be progressed to interview.
All unsuccessful appellants are notified and referred to further supports.
Confidentiality and Data Protection
The KickStart Scholarship is operated in Technological University of the Shannon within an ethos of confidence and respect.
By completing the application form, applicants will be submitting their personal data to Technological University of the Shannon and as such, Technological University of the Shannon is the Data Controller in relation to the personal data of the applicants (see ‘Data Protection Rules’ below). Certain anonymised elements of applicants’ data will also be shared with the Irish Probation Services.
Personal data submitted using the application form will be used only for the purpose of processing applications for the KickStart Scholarship. Applicant data will be treated in accordance with the data protection policies of Technological University of the Shannon.
If candidates have any questions in relation to how their personal data is used by Technological University of the Shannon, they are advised to refer to the TUS Data Protection Office.
Applicants will be required to provide TUS with personal data including:
- Name, address, Eircode, date of birth, CAO number/student number, mobile phone number, email address.
- If applicable, documentation about income, criminal justice history and priority group membership.
In relation to the scholarship, this personal data is necessary for:
- verification of applicant identity
- the assessment of the application,
- eligibility for the scholarship
- the selection of successful applicants,
- the provision of additional supports.
Separately, the following information is provided by Maynooth University as the lead institution to the Probation Services: an anonymised version of applicant information will be shared with the Probation Services in order to comply with the KickStart Scholarship reporting requirements. If applicants do not provide the requested data, their application for the Scholarship cannot be processed.
Data Protection Rules
Technological University of the Shannon must comply with of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Acts 1988-2018 when personal data is collected and used. Technological University of the Shannon acts as a ‘Data Controller’ in respect of applicant personal data and must comply with their responsibilities under these laws.
The lawful basis for the processing of your personal data after the submission of your application is the contract between you and the TU. Ref: Art (6)1(b) of the GDPR – processing necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract.
How applicant’s personal information will be used:
Data will only be processed for the purpose for which applicants provide it and to the extent necessary to process their application in line with the regulations attached to this Scholarship. Applicants have the right to withdraw their consent to processing and they also have the right to access any personal data relating to them, upon request to Technological University of the Shannon. The personal data submitted will be held for a period of 10 years. The personal data may be disclosed by Technological University of the Shannon to relevant internal staff and agents in order to assess the application and to deliver support services to applicants. We may also share personal data with government departments, statutory bodies, and funding agencies where this is required under legislation or for the provision of services to applicants.
The online application form will be hosted on the Technological University of the Shannon website. Further information about the scholarships will be hosted on the Unlocking Potential website. A record of responses is generated as applicants submit their forms online. Application details will be stored on a secure network, and password protected. Access to the form and responses is strictly limited to authorised individuals within Technological University of the Shannon, who require a secure log-in to access the information.
Applicant Data Rights
Under data protection rules, an applicant has rights as a ‘data subject’. These rights include:
- The right to be informed about what happens to information relating to them (personal data) (Articles 12-14 of GDPR).
- The right to access information relating to them which is held by HEIs (Article 15, GDPR).
- The right to rectification, to correct any errors in their personal data (Articles 16 & 19, GDPR).
- The right to erasure, to delete/destroy information relating to them which is held by the HEI (Articles 17 & 19, GDPR).
- The right to data portability (Article 20, GDPR).
- The right to object to processing of information relating to them (Article 21, GDPR).
- The right of restriction, to limit the way a HEI uses information relating to them (Article 18, GDPR); and,
- Rights in relation to automated decision making, including profiling (Article 22, GDPR).
By proceeding to complete the KickStart Scholarship application form, applicants confirm:
- that they have read and fully understand the above statement and its contents.
- that they consent to the obtaining, processing, and retaining of their personal data for the purposes described.
If applicants do not provide the requested data, their application for the KickStart Scholarship cannot be processed.