UCD Students’ Union Education Officer Shane Comer has announced his intentions to bring in a graduate bursary scheme for postgraduate students wishing to study at UCD. The scheme is in its infancy stage and is based on an existing model used by University College Cork. The Bursary would be expected in the region of €1,000-2,000 per successful applicant.
Comer described the origins of the project: “The idea with the UCC model is that any student in receipt of a higher education grant as an undergraduate becomes eligible for this, and what UCC does is, they don’t cover the fees but they do provide funds, either €2,000 or €3,000. There is all different criteria that the student must qualify for, and so what I have been doing is to try bring something like that into UCD, for the main reason that the postgraduate grant was abolished in the last budget, and UCD has seen a drop off of 17% in graduates this year compared to last year”.
Comer envisages the scheme operating with a committee established to assess each application as it comes in. They will look for information such as if they have been in receipt of a grant previously, and their GPA from their undergraduate years.
A similar scheme was trialled in UCD’s School of History at the start of this year, however this scheme has now ceased to exist due to low application numbers. Comer believes that the scheme will be more successful when applied to a wider section of the University, though.
In relation to how much would be offered by the bursary, Comer stated: “First of all the intention is that they wouldn’t have to pay the money back. Second of all, due to all the figures, this is where the tough part comes in looking for funding for it. So I have looked in various places for it, in the University itself, to the alumni foundation, so depending on what is established, the funding may vary. I will be looking for between €1-2,000.”
Concerning plans to implement the scheme, Comer is reluctant to set a date until a committee is established and funding is secure: “At this stage I need to find a collection of individuals who could take this task on and it is a tough thing to try and establish a new scheme like this. Being very hopeful, I would hopefully have it place for September of next year, or at the very least, have it in place for September of the year after next with my successor carrying it on, just to have the wheels in motion as this isn’t something that will not be done overnight.”