There is fourth-level funding to be found, if you look hard enough

Last week saw the official merger of Ireland’s two research councils, the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET), to form the Irish Research Council. The thinking behind the merger is to strengthen existing resources and increase emphasis on interdisciplinary research opportunities. The merger won’t affect existing postgraduate scholarships and fellowships but, it is hoped, will enhance collaboration with enterprise and ‘provide a strong voice for the promotion and support of emerging researchers in Ireland’, according to the Department of Education and Skills.

To illustrate the point, the Research Council has just announced a new industry-based Postgraduate Programme, under which students will undertake their research in collaboration with an enterprise partner. This all sounds like good news, but exact details of the programme, and how the merger will impact on other existing funding application procedures for next year’s research students, are as yet unclear.

In a general climate of shrinking state support for postgraduate students in Ireland, it’s also worth remembering that there is still funding to be found from other, non-government sources. Most higher education institutions that offer postgraduate programmes also offer access to scholarships, studentships, fellowships, bursaries, bequests and other awards, from private donors and benefactors, and sometimes from commercial enterprises. It’s worth investigating all of your options.

Although many deadlines for postgrad funding applications come early in the year (deadlines can fall as soon as 1 March), keep your eye out for potential funding opportunities all throughout the year, as they can crop up at any time.

You may have to search harder, for longer (inexplicably, information about funding opportunities are sometimes well camouflaged on institution websites), but a little bit of extra research could be well worth the time and effort if it results in a sizeable financial award.

For more information on what kind of funding is out there, and how to go about tracking it down, see postgradireland.com/funding.

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