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New MBA scholarships in UCD to support Irish citizens impacted by Covid

‘Outstanding’ opportunity for professionals to enhance and deepen their knowledge

UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School has created four new scholarships for its full-time MBA programme to support Irish citizens impacted by Covid. The scholarships are designed to support those who are in search of new leadership opportunities following the impact of the pandemic and are available to citizens living here in Ireland as well as those living abroad and contemplating returning home. Fifty per cent of the globally ranked full-time MBA programme’s tuition cost will be covered for four qualified applicants.

“Our ambition is that this investment will have a positive impact on Ireland’s recovery through the development of emerging business leaders,” says Edel O’Leary, senior manager for MBA Programmes. “MBA programmes enhance critical thinking and leadership skills, and the class of 2022 will have a major role to play in the post-pandemic landscape.”

According to O’Leary, the full-time MBA at UCD Smurfit School presents an outstanding opportunity for professionals to enhance and deepen knowledge in areas such as business analysis, innovation and strategic leadership by learning from globally esteemed academics.

“Students are also provided with access to a dedicated leadership development programme that includes individual, team and organisational skills development, as well as access to a network of over 95,000 UCD Business alumni worldwide,” she adds. “The knowledge and access provided through these and other in-class learning, and co-curricular experiences equips students with the skills necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing world.”


“We are one of an elite group of schools worldwide to hold the triple crown of accreditation from the three centres of business and academic excellence, EQUIS (Europe), AACSB (US) and AMBA (UK),” she continues. “UCD Smurfit is also the only Irish business school consistently featured in global rankings over the last 10 years, most recently climbing to No 67 in The Economist Full-time MBA Ranking.”

Leadership gaps

The aim of the scholarships is to help fill leadership gaps which have been identified during the pandemic. “This is where UCD Smurfit School can play a role,” says O’Leary. “We have been recognised for a long time for playing our part in developing leadership in sectors that are critically important to the economy. We are now calling on employers to put employees forward for the full-time MBA programme.

“We are also calling on individuals at home and abroad who want to transform their careers to put themselves forward for these valuable scholarships. There is an opportunity now for small, medium and large businesses to identify emerging talent and nurture it to develop the leaders for the next decade.”

The rationale for creating the scholarships is to support the post-pandemic recovery, she continues. “UCD Smurfit School is Ireland’s longest established and leading business school. and we want to play an active role in the recovery. And not just the economic recovery. There are significant challenges around the future shape of society and how we manage workplaces and the workforce, and we want to play our part in meeting them.”

And leadership and management skills will play a key role in that recovery. “We believe they are more important now than ever before,” says O’Leary. “We see organisations grappling with so many issues such as the adoption of new technologies, digitalisation, employee wellbeing, and talent retention to name but a few. They are all key management issues that will require investment. We want to play our part in that through the four scholarships.”

She points out that MBA candidates can come from just about any background. “Over the last couple of years there has been a realisation that leaders can come from any technical background including medicine, the sciences, engineering, retail, anywhere. There is an opportunity now for employers to recognise subject matter experts as potential future leaders and to invest in them.”

She cites the example of a recent UCD Smurfit MBA graduate who had been working as a nurse in Australia. “She had started to work in nursing services management and then decided to return home to do the full time MBA in the Smurfit School. She is now working as a management consultant with a major global consulting firm. We love to see people who are changing the course of their career and pivoting to new areas come through the door.

“A lot of people who have emigrated over the last 10 years may always have been planning to come home at some stage. Everyone has a different trigger to make the move, it is just a question of deciding on the right time. In many cases they are coming back because they have decided to advance their career and we are helping them to move to the next level.”

Barry McCall

Barry McCall is a contributor to The Irish Times