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New Scholarship Aimed at Giving People With Criminal Convictions a ‘Second Chance’ Launches at TUS

Up to €25,000 is available to help those with criminal convictions access higher education at TUS

Aerial view of the Technological University of the Shannon, Athlone Campus.

A new scholarship aimed at helping former prisoners and those with a criminal past access higher education has launched at the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS), Athlone campus.

The KickStart Scholarship Fund, established by the Irish Probation Service and supported by the Irish Prison Service, is intended to provide critical financial support to people with convictions enrolling in undergraduate study.

TUS is one of four higher education partners involved in delivering the pilot programme, along with DCU, DKIT, and MU, the project lead.

Two KickStart Scholarships are now available at TUS’s Athlone campus, which consist of a scholarship worth up to €20,000 over four years of full-time study and six years of part-time study, and a scholarship of up to €5,000 over four years of full-time study or six years of part-time study.

The programme is open to new undergraduate students who have applied to begin their third-level undergraduate study at TUS’s Athlone campus this September, as well as those who are already enrolled at TUS’s Athlone campus or MU, DCU, and DKIT.

Welcoming the opening of the application process, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the scheme was about giving people “a second chance and empowering those who want to change the course of their lives for the better.”

“We know how powerful education can be in terms of unlocking potential, building confidence, and breaking down barriers, and this new initiative is about ensuring equality of opportunity for those who may have made mistakes in the past but want to build a better life,” she explained.

TUS President Prof. Vincent Cunnane called it a chance for people with a criminal past to rebuild their lives through educational opportunity.

“We are delighted to participate in this pilot scheme aimed at providing educational opportunities to those with a criminal past. Education has a transformative power which gives people the tools needed to carve out a better life for themselves and their families. At TUS, we believe it should be available to all who would benefit from it – for the betterment of the individual and their families, the community within which they reside, and society as a whole.”

The KickStart Scholarship scheme meets a strategic objective of the Working to Change Social Enterprise and Employment Strategy 2021-2023.

For information on the application process, please visit or contact the TUS Athlone campus Access Office –