Unlocking Potential project: Fair admissions for people with previous convictions – Supported by DPER

Maynooth University and partnering bodies have launched Unlocking Potential: Fair Admission for People with Previous Convictions – a project funded with €25,000 under the 2020 Public Service Innovation Fund. 

Minister for Higher and Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD, launched the Unlocking Potential project at Maynooth University on 17 January, which aims to reduce barriers to third level education for people with convictions.

The project provides a ‘Fair Admissions Toolkit’ for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), which will help guide the reform or development of admissions policies, practices and supports for prospective and current students with convictions.

Available online at, the website provides important information to higher education staff interested in developing a fair admissions policy, as well as information for potential students regarding accessing third-level courses.

One such assistance available via the project is the Kickstarter Scholarship Fund. Recently established by the Probation Service and supported by the Irish Prison Service, the scholarship is administered by Maynooth University to support those with a criminal justice history and experiencing socio-economic disadvantage to access higher education.

The Unlocking Potential project has stemmed from the Mountjoy-Maynooth University Partnership, and is a collaboration between Maynooth University Access Programme (MAP), Maynooth University School of Law and Criminology, Maynooth University Innovation Lab (Mi:Lab), the Irish Prison Service, the Probation Service, the Pathways Centre (City of Dublin Education and Training Board) and the Irish Penal Reform Trust.