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Our Rural Future: Minister Humphreys launches first ever bursary to support Masters Students in field of rural development

  • New initiative rolled out in partnership with our third level colleges

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today launched a new bursary to support a number of Masters Students in the area of rural development.

The initiative is being rolled out in partnership with our third level colleges and delivers upon a commitment in our five-year rural development policy, Our Rural Future.

As part of the initiative, six students will be supported with a bursary with a value of €60,000.

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. 

Expressions of Interest were invited from the Network in order to enhance collaboration between higher education institutions, research organisations and Government.

Funding is now being awarded to a joint proposal by University College Dublin, University of Galway and University College Cork 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 DRCD and administered by University College Dublin as the lead partner organisation.  

It will support six students to undertake a masters programme in rural development, two students in each of the three partnering universities.

The students, who will be selected by the universities, will engage with the Department and other nominated departments in the formulation of specific research questions focused 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. 

The bursary recognises the impact of rural development studies and education and demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to supporting research to contribute to the evidence base underpinning national policies relevant to sustainable rural development. 

Announcing the initiative today, 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. 

“Under ‘Our Rural Future’, our rural communities have undergone a huge level of change and rejuvenation that has had a really positive impact on families and businesses.

“This initiative will support and enable students who want to further their careers in this very exciting area of studies.”

Prof. Tasman Crowe, UCD Vice-President for Sustainability:

“I welcome these generous bursaries from the DRCD 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.”

Dr Mary O’Shaughnessy, Head, Department of Food Business and Development, UCC:

I am absolutely delighted to be part of this National University of Ireland team to have been awarded this bursary for master studies in rural development from the Department of Rural and Community Development. It is a fitting recognition of the importance of rural development study and research for wider societal wellbeing

Associate Prof. Maura Farrell, School of Geography, Archaeology and Irish Studies, University of Galway:

"We are thrilled to announce the provision of two full scholarships for our Discipline of Geography, MA in Planning and Development, dedicated to incoming students with a keen focus on rural issues for the academic year 2024/2025. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to the DRCD for making this opportunity possible."

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.” 

Our Rural Future: Rural Development Policy 2021-2025 represents the Irish Government’s blueprint for a post-COVID-19 recovery and development of rural Ireland until 2025. It provides the framework to achieve the vision of transforming the quality of life and opportunity for people living in rural areas.

The vision of Our Rural Futureis for a thriving rural Ireland which is integral to our national economic, social, cultural, and environmental wellbeing and development. That vision is for an Ireland which is built on the interdependence of urban and rural areas, an Ireland which recognises the centrality of people, the importance of vibrant and lived-in rural places, and the potential to create quality jobs and sustain our shared environment.

Further information on the National Rural Development Policy, Our Rural Future can be found on the government’s website:
(opens in a new window)www.gov.ie/en/publication/4c236-our-rural-future-vision-and-policy-context/

Our Rural Future Higher Education Institutions Network

Our Rural Future recognises the critical role of Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and other organisations in advancing research in the area of sustainable rural development, and in ensuring public policy is informed by evidence and research. In 2021, DRCD established the Our Rural Future Higher Education and Research Institutions Network (Network) to enhance collaboration between HEIs, research organisations and government, and to ensure Our Rural Future continues to be informed by the cutting edge research taking place in HEIs and research organisations across the country.  The Network, which is principally advisory in nature, meets twice yearly.

For further information please see (opens in a new window)gov - Our Rural Future Higher Education Institutions Network (www.gov.ie)

Those interested in applying for the bursaries should contact the universities individually:

UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science

Agriculture and Food Science Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
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