Skip to main content

Course Search

Course Search

Course Search

KickStart Scholarship Fund – Athlone

Applications for the TUS Midlands KickStart Scholarship 2023-24 are open until Saturday 21 October 2023 at 5pm.

Please review the information on the KickStart Scholarship and the eligibility criteria below. Contact with any queries or concerns regarding the eligibility criteria or application process.

Apply for a KickStart Scholarship now

Click here

About the KickStart Scholarship

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 ( 

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). 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.

With two scholarships available, all applications will be screened against the eligibility criteria. Those applicants who meet the highest number of criteria will be asked to supply supporting documentation and proceed to interview. All applicants who apply to the KickStart Scholarship will be informed about the available 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.

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.

Application Timeline 2023/2024

KickStart Scholarship application opens20 September 2023Applicant submits information via the KickStart Scholarship online application form and gathers required supporting documentation, reaching out for support from the TUS Access team with any queries. 
KickStart Scholarship application closes21 October 2023 at 5pmThe online form closes for accepting applications.
Screening of applications by TUS Selection Committee23 October – 27 October 2023Screening of applications by Selection Committee begins. The highest ranked applicants will proceed to interview. 
Notifications to ineligible applicants31 October 2023Ineligible applicants are advised about the outcome, advised about additional supports and informed of the queries and appeals process.
Appeals applications opens1 November 2023Appeals may be submitted via email in accordance with the appeals process outlined below.
Appeals applications closes10 November 2023The window for accepting appeal applications closes.
Appeals review meeting26 October 2022Review meeting held in accordance with the appeals process. 
Communication of outcomes28 October 2022Unsuccessful 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.16 November 2023The interview panel will select their highest ranked candidates.
Communication of Interview Outcomes17 November 2023Scholarship 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 ScholarshipBy 24 November 2023Recipients 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 Early December 2023Payment will made directly to the student’s bank account by electronic transfer of funds.
Second KickStart Scholarship payment to recipients Mid-February 2024Payment will made directly to the student’s bank account by electronic transfer of funds.


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.
    • TUS’s Convictions Policy states that a number of the University’s programmes, especially in the areas of education, community and youth work, require applicants to undertake placements that will bring them into contact with children or vulnerable adults and in which they will assume positions of trust. The University is committed to ensuring that only suitable candidates are allowed to undertake these programmes. The University uses the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) vetting service to assess the suitability of such applicants. Therefore, offers on these programmes are conditional and could subsequently be withdrawn if applicants do not meet the Garda Vetting requirements of the University.
  • 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).²

Additional Prioritisation Criteria

  • Applications are assessed on the basis of all information provided in the application processto 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 o Applicant with disabilities
    • Member of Irish Traveller community o Member of the Roma community
    • Lone parent o 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).
  • 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 /are intending to enrol.
  • Applicants who are not new undergraduates commencing third level education in September 2023 for the first time in one of the four MEND HEIs.
  • Applicants who have received funding through other Scholarship or Bursary schemes at the same or greater value.
  • Applicants on a full-time or part-time undergraduate course that takes less than two years to complete, or on the successful completion of which an applicant 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 2022, as per the assessment criteria for SUSI.
  • Applicants who have not lived in the Republic of Ireland for 3 of the past 5 years.
  • Postgraduate applicants.
  • Persons 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. This is 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). 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 people in the International Protection System (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.

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 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 Supporting Documents Checklist.

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 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 21st October 2023. 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.

Review and Appeals Process

The MEND cluster is committed to ensuring that all KickStart Scholarship applications are assessed fairly, accurately, and according to the published guidelines. The KickStart Scholarship Review and Appeals process is applied to make sure that all applicants are treated in accordance with our published criteria and screening procedures have been applied consistently.

This Review and Appeals process is the only way of having an ineligible outcome re-examined. Applicants who are advised that their KickStart Scholarship application has been unsuccessful 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 provided 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 can only be considered on either of these two grounds:

(1) an “administrative error in assessment”, if the applicant believes there was an administrative error made in assessing their application through failure to take into consideration information that was provided.
(2) “insufficient weight was given to an aspect of their application” in that all their circumstances were not taken into account when their application was being reviewed and something important was not considered about their personal situation.

Applicants must have identified one of these two grounds in any appeal. Applicants can email to request to speak to a member of the KickStart Scholarship team, to discuss the outcome of their application, the possibility of an appeal and to explore other available supports.

Making an Appeal

Applicants can email their appeal from their university email account only to, with the subject line: Kickstart Scholarship Appeal, within the deadline stated in the outcome email, citing their student number and the ground(s) for appeal.

The KickStart Scholarship team will only communicate with the applicant in relation to their appeal. Any unsolicited correspondence from a third party will not be taken into account.

Appeals Review Process 

The Appeals Review 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.
  • Where an appeal is upheld and the rescoring outcome deems the application to progress, the applicant will be invited to interview.
  • Where an appeal is not upheld or where an appeal is upheld but the rescoring outcome deems the application not to progress, applicants are notified and referred to additional supports.

The decision of the Independent Review and Appeals Panel is final.

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.

Lawful Basis

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).

Consent Declaration 

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.