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KickStart Scholarship

Open to students with a criminal justice history.

About the KickStart Scholarship

The KickStart Scholarship Fund is a scholarship established by the Irish 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 (

Maynooth University is the lead institution for the KickStart Scholarship Fund scheme in partnership with Dublin City University, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Technological University of the Shannon Midlands Midwest, Athlone Campus (MEND Cluster[1]). For 2023/24, the scheme will be open to new undergraduates commencing third level education in September 2023 for the first time in one of these four MEND HEIs.

It is intended that the scholarship will fund the entire duration of an applicant's programme of study. There are two scholarships available in each MEND HEI in 2023/24.

  • 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.

There is a two-stage assessment process of screening and interviews. All applicants will be screened for eligibility and prioritisation. The highest ranked applicants will have their supporting documentation verified and be invited to interview. Each interview panel will select the two successful scholarship awardees.

Scholarship awardees must comply with the fund guidelines and progress to the next academic year of their course to retain the scholarship. Applicants who are deemed ineligible for the scholarship will be referred to additional supports.

The KickStart Scholarship team will only communicate with the applicant throughout the application, screening and outcomes process. Any unsolicited correspondence from a third party will not be taken into account.

Eligibility criteria for KickStart Scholarship

Who can apply?

The priority group for the KickStart Scholarship Fund 2023-24 are applicants who: (i) have a criminal conviction, (ii) are experiencing socio-economic disadvantage, and (iii) are commencing undergraduate third level education in September 2023.

  • Applicants must be new undergraduates commencing third level education in September 2023 for the first time in one of these four MEND HEIs to apply to the scheme.
  • Applicants must be first-time new entrants enrolled on a full-time or part-time undergraduate course in one of the MEND publicly funded institutions 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 should be aware that information on criminal convictions may be required for Garda vetted programmes in accordance with the Convictions Policy of the relevant MEND HEI.
  • 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 Grant Scheme (SUSI) maintenance grant with a reckonable household income on or below €46,790 in 2022 or would qualify for full fees from SUSI with a Department of Social Protection (DSP) long-term means-tested social welfare payment such as Back to Education Allowance i.e. applicants must be able to provide evidence that shows they are experiencing socio-economic disadvantage equivalent to the SUSI maintenance rate on or below €46,790. All applications will be assessed in line with SUSI assessment process.
  • Applicants must also have been resident in the State (Republic of Ireland) for three of the past five years prior to the date their first year of study commences (evidenced by HEI Fee Status).

Additional Prioritisation Criteria

  • Applications are assessed on the basis of all information provided in the application process to weight the scholarships in favour of those applicants who meet additional prioritisation criteria. Priority will be given to applicants who meet one or more of the following criteria as this demonstrates the intersectionality of an applicant's criminal justice history and socioeconomic disadvantage.
    • Applicant who qualifies for the special rate of maintenance grant or with an equivalent reckonable income under €25,000 in 2022
    • First-time mature student (23 or older on 1 January of their year of entry to higher education)
    • Further education and training award holder (FETAC/QQI) progressing to higher education
    • Applicant with disabilities
    • Member of Irish Traveller community
    • Member of the Roma community
    • Lone parent
    • 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 transitioning out of direct provision (within previous 3 years) 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 (within previous 3 years)
    • Applicant who is/was living in supported accommodation (within previous 3 years)

Applying for the KickStart Scholarship at DkIT

Please download the Application & Information Document at the link below and review the information on the KickStart Scholarship and the eligibility criteria. 

Please complete pages 5-8, the declaration on page 16 and the references on pages 18 & 19 of the Application & Information Document below, and all supporting documentation (see page 9 onwards) must also be emailed to before the deadline of Monday 30th October 2023 at 12pm

Download Kickstart Application & Information Document