We are keen to have a mix of backgrounds and abilities on this course, so please don't assume that this course isn't for you! We very much welcome activists who want to go back to education, as well as students who are keen to get involved in movements, mature students as well as traditional ones, and people with different community or movement points of reference. Students come from a range of different countries and ethnicities, genders and sexualities.
Along with the usual information for the online form, we will look for a short (one – two pages) statement about any aspects of your experience which you feel are relevant to the course, and what you are hoping the course will be able to offer you that will benefit your practice. The personal statement isn't a test! We want to tailor the course to bring out what students already know and can share with each other, and what their priorities are in terms of learning needs, and we can't do that if we don't know where students are coming from.
Fees and funding
Ultimately fees are set by government policy on higher education, according to which Irish and other EU students are partly subsidised while those from outside the EU pay what is calculated as the full cost of their education. In practice though a majority of postgraduate students probably receive some funding, whether to cover fees alone, living expenses or partial supports.
The system is complicated and takes time to explore; at time of writing details for the 2014-15 year are not always available. Below are some starting points:
From the state
The Student Finance website has some useful information on this. All student funding from the state is now processed and administered through the newly centralised system SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland). In its first year (2012-13) this system had a number of well-publicised problems but it is important to say that delays in SUSI did not prevent students taking part in the course - they simply had to spend more time than they should have done trying to get the system to work.
There are two ways postgraduates may qualify for student grants. (Exact details below are for the 2013-14 scheme but this is not expected to change substantially for 2014-15).
1) A flat rate, means-tested fee contribution of €2,000. The initial income threshold is €31,500 but there are a number of other factors taken into consideration when assessing eligibility, including how many family members are in full-time study. Studentfinance.ie has a calculator on its website to help you determine if you qualify.
2) Full fees for students with a family income no greater than €22,703 (net of Qualified Child Increases and standard exclusions) and in receipt of one of a number of payments from the Department of Social Protection.
All applications are made through Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) and the process will probably open around mid-May for the 2014 -15 academic year. It is important to say that the grant covers a range of different nationalities and statuses.
SUSI Helpdesk contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 0761 08 7874, facebook facebook.com/susisupport
There is some really useful information on SUSI at this site: http://www.cdvec.ie/Student-Supports/Grants.aspx and more detail and clarification at the Student Finance site here.
If you are already in receipt of state benefits / supports, the type you have (e.g. Jobseekers, Lone Parents, Back to Education etc.) can make a big difference in terms both of what funding might be available to you but also in terms of whether you will be able to maintain your existing benefits while studying. (NB also that information-gathering is now very centralised so your new student status will show up where it might not have before!) If you are currently on benefits, we strongly recommend that you talk to your local Citizens Information Centre well in advance of taking the course to discuss your options. Some people may be in a position to change from one type of benefits to another but this takes time.
From the university:
There are two funding sources at NUI Maynooth; for more details see this page.
1) Taught Masters Bursaries at a value of €2,000. There are 60 of these which will be shared across all taught MAs in the University. To apply you must meet the minimum requirements (a 2:2 in a relevant BA) and have been in receipt of a SUSI or city / council Higher Education Grant for your undergraduate studies. The deadline for the first round of applications is May 1 2014.
2) NUI Maynooth Alumni Scholarships at a value of €5,000. These are open to NUIM graduates (including 2014 graduates). The deadline for applications is June 2 2014.
It is also worth doing a search online as there are a limited number of specific scholarships and bursaries offered on the basis of criteria like the area of research (e.g. this site) or the Universities in Ireland Postgraduate Scheme which would support students from Northern Ireland pursuing postgraduate studies in the Republic. Again Student Finance has a good starting list of possibilities.
Tuition fees have not yet been set for the academic year 2014 / 2015, but should be in the region of €5160 (the 2013-14 rate) plus a registration fee of around €2600 for Irish and other EU students; for non-EU students the tuition fee is likely to be in the region of €13,000. For EU students, half of the tuition fee is payable prior to registration and the other half is usually payable before February 1st. For non-EU students resident overseas, the full fee is payable before registration. Up-to-date information is available via Graduate Studies and the Fees and Grants Office.
Finally, you can find practical information for prospective Maynooth students at this page, including access students, mature students, international students, and childcare.
The basic message that we hear from CEESA students is that postgraduate study is not easy but is doable for people from a wide range of different situations and backgrounds. As a team we are committed to supporting people in difficult personal circumstances to be able to complete the course.
For some history of how austerity-related cuts have affected access to postgraduate study see this post.