A new bursary to support six masters students in the area of rural development has been launched by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys.

The initiative is being rolled out in partnership with third-level colleges and is part of the five-year rural development policy 'Our Rural Future'.

As part of the initiative, six students will be supported with a bursary to the value of €60,000, with two students in each of the three partnering universities.


Funding is being awarded to a joint proposal by University College Dublin (UCD), University of Galway and University College Cork (UCC) for their complementary masters programmes in rural development with specialisms in rural innovation, climate adaptation and sustainable development.

The bursary will be funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development and administered by UCD as the lead partner organisation.

The bursary was developed in collaboration with the Higher Education Institution Network, which was established by the department to encourage the wider take-up of rural development research at postgraduate level.

Research questions

Students will be selected by the universities and will engage with the department and other nominated departments in the formulation of specific research questions.

Research will focus on advancing the objectives of 'Our Rural Future' and providing an evidence base to aid the development of public policy or support evaluation of specific policy challenges.

Announcing the initiative, Minister Humphreys said: “I am delighted to announce, in collaboration with the Higher Education Institutions Network, a bursary to support postgraduate studies in rural development.

“We hope that this financial support will encourage and support graduates who want to continue their studies and pursue a future career in the area of rural development.”

UCD vice-president for sustainability Tasman Crowe said: “I welcome these generous bursaries, which will help students in UCD and our partner institutions to research key themes in rural development, such as rural community development, just transitions and climate adaptation.

"Along with helping to achieve Ireland’s net zero obligations, building resilient and sustainable rural communities provides a decent quality of life in the present as well as for future generations.”

Minister Humphreys concluded: “We hope to see applications from candidates in all disciplines relevant to sustainable rural development outlined in 'Our Rural Future'.

“We welcome research projects that will contribute to the evidence basis which will underpin Government policies relevant to sustainable rural development and help us address the challenges and seize the opportunities ahead of us.”