Kieran Herlihy, second year and Annemarie Quilligan with Paul O'Connell Picture: Alan Place
MORE than 50 third level students from schools across Limerick have received scholarships worth a total of €600,000.
The Limerick Institute of Technology has linked up with a series of companies including WP Engine based in Patrick Street, Analog Devices in Raheen and the Strand Hotel to fund the scholarships.
The scheme, codenamed Leaders@LIT is the only programme of its kind which supports students who come from schools which are designated as ‘delivering equality of opportunity in schools’.
LIT president Dr Vincent Cunnane said: “We just want to allow people who would otherwise experience very significant financial barriers to be able to concentrate on their studies. The programme provides them with the funding and mentoring necessary to achieve success in their academic studies.”
As part of the scheme, a relationship is established between the donor and the scholar.
Dr Cunnane said he expects the funding to increase to €1m in three years so as many students as possible can take advantage.
To this end, the college is still looking for donors.
The former Munster captain Paul O’Connell was present at a special ceremony in LIT’s Millennium Theatre. He is an investor in Pinergy, which is a key sponsor of the scholarships.
“This programme is unique and transformational in that it seeks to purely target students from disadvantaged backgrounds in Limerick and take the barriers to higher education away for them. I have supported this scholarship programme since the beginning, and look forward to doing so as it grows in the future,” the rugby legend confirmed.
Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon said: “It is a huge benefit for Limerick to have a programme like this in place, and it is a unique addition to the educational life of the city. All of the scholars involved deserve recognition, as do the each and every one of the donors who make it possible.”