Muscular Dystrophy Ireland – Dr John Roche Education Bursary


Background to the MDI-Dr John Roche Education Bursary

About Dr John Roche

Bursary information and awarding criteria

How much is the bursary for?

Who is eligible to apply for the bursary?

Bursary awarding criteria

How to apply

The selection process

Accepting the bursary

Conditions attaching to all bursary offers

Payment of the bursary

Renewal of the bursary

Determination of disputes

Appendix – Approved educational institutions

Background to the MDI-Dr John Roche Education Bursary

Muscular Dystrophy Ireland (MDI) is keen to support students living with neuromuscular conditions to attend further and higher education by offering financial support through the Dr John Roche Educational Bursary. MDI – Ireland’s national organisation providing support to people with neuromuscular conditions – recognises that appropriate financial supports are essential for people with neuromuscular conditions to develop their education. We have therefore launched an annual bursary which aims to support the educational costs of students with neuromuscular conditions attending further and higher education.

The bursary will consist of an annual grant of €1,000 each for two students who are living with a neuromuscular condition to study at an educational institution in the Republic of Ireland that is recognised by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). The annual bursary will be awarded each year for the duration of the student’s educational programme. The bursary aims to support students to further their education and transition to meaningful employment, thus empowering them to fully participate in society and reach their potential.

When bursary students have completed their course and gained their qualification, MDI will consider the possibility of offering a six-month paid internship with MDI where appropriate.

The MDI-Dr John Roche Educational Bursary honours the contributions of Dr John Roche who was a lifelong advocate for education and independent living.

About Dr John Roche

Dr John Roche passed away in February 2022, leaving a huge legacy with the disability rights movement in Ireland. He was appointed to the Board of MDI in 2017 and was Chairperson from 2018 to 2021. John was also Chair of the MDI Research Committee. He graduated in structural engineering from University College Dublin at the top of his class and went on to excel at Cambridge University where his PhD won several awards. He was passionate about the role of education in opening doors to employment and the crucial role of Personal Assistance Services (PAS) and other Independent Living supports in empowering disabled people to live fulfilled lives of their own choosing. Throughout his life he campaigned for these rights and served on the boards of other organisations as well as on those of MDI, namely – Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI), the Academic Council and the Open Training College. He also volunteered as a math tutor to students and their parents and mentored young students who faced challenges accessing third level education.

Bursary information and awarding criteria

How much is the bursary for?

The value of each bursary is set at €1,000 for each year and will be for a maximum amount of €4,000 over the duration of the student’s educational programme.

Who is eligible to apply for the bursary?

You are eligible to apply for the bursary if you fulfill all of the following:

  • You are a member of MDI
  • You are living with a neuromuscular condition covered by MDI
  • You are a student attending further education and training, Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course, undergraduate or post-graduate certificate, diploma or degree at an educational institution recognised by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). (See list of recognised colleges at the end of the document.)
  • You are a student entering the first year of a programme or you are already engaged in study on a programme as described above.
  • The educational programme is full- or part-time.
  • The educational programme takes place in-person or online.

All types of students, from school leavers to mature students returning to education may apply.

Your application will not be eligible if you:

  • Miss the application deadline
  • Fail to complete all sections of the application form.

Bursary awarding criteria

The MDI selection panel will give consideration to the following when selecting the two students to be awarded the bursary in 2023:

  • Your personal statement outlining your career aspirations (in your application form)
  • Your personal statement outlining the potential impact of the bursary on your life (in your application form).

The MDI selection panel will assess applications in accordance with set procedures which aim to ensure that our system for awarding the bursary is fair and transparent.

How to apply

Please complete the bursary application form which is available in the following ways:

  • Online – online web form on the MDI website here. (You can save drafts while you are completing it and you can save the final version that you submit for your records.)
  • Email – download the fillable PDF application form here, complete it, save it and then email it, marked, ‘Education bursary’ to
  • Regular post – contact Alan Breathnach on 086 608 8667 or to ask us to post you a hard copy of the application form. Then return your completed application form marked, ‘Education bursary’, to Muscular Dystrophy Ireland, 75 Lucan Road, Chapelizod, D20 DR77.

The deadline for applications is Friday 28 July 2023.

Following the application deadline, we will:

  • acknowledge receipt of your application by email/letter
  • check your application for eligibility, that the application was submitted on time and all sections of the application form were completed.

If you have any questions about the bursary or would like assistance in completing your application, please contact Sheila Murphy on 086 7525651 /

The selection process

  • Following the closing date, the selection process will involve a case-by-case review by the MDI selection panel of all student applications relating to the bursary awarding criteria (above). The MDI selection panel will be made up of members of MDI’s Executive and Board, as well as a person external to the organisation.
  • Shortlisted students will be invited to interview in September, online or at MDI’s offices.
  • Following interview, the MDI selection panel will decide on two successful candidates.
  • The successful candidates will be notified of the bursary offer on or before 1 October 2023.
  • Once the successful candidates have accepted the bursary offer, we will notify unsuccessful candidates by email/letter as soon as possible.

Accepting the bursary

When a bursary offer has been made and subsequently accepted, verification will be sought by MDI to ensure that the candidate continues to attend a course at an approved college as outlined in Appendix 1.

The successful candidate must comply with the terms of the offer as outlined by MDI and accept the bursary in respect of an approved course for the 2023/2024 academic year. The bursary can be deferred for one academic year only, and for that period, only with the prior written permission of MDI.

Any offer of a bursary is dependent upon information being truthful and accurate and upon the applicant fulfilling all of the conditions of the MDI Dr John Roche Bursary. The right to withdraw an offer is maintained by MDI in the event of any error or omission whatsoever in the information provided by or on behalf of the applicant.

Conditions attaching to all bursary offers

All applicants to whom a bursary is offered must fulfill the terms and conditions of the scheme together with the entry requirements for the educational course chosen which must be at an approved course for the purposes of this scheme.

Bursary holders will be expected to comply with the regulations of their college/institution and to undergo every term examination or any other examination determined by the authorities of their college / institution for their course.

It is permissible for any MDI-Dr John Roche Bursary holder to be in receipt also of awards or grants or scholarships of the state (such as the national Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grants for further and higher education) or of the EU.

Successful bursary recipients will be expected to take part in MDI communications and publicity surrounding the awarding of the MDI-Dr John Roche Bursary. These expectations will run for the duration of the bursary award. It is advised that all students consider this additional commitment when applying. It is planned for the Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, to formally present the bursary to the successful candidates on 12 October 2023 at our offices in Chapelizod.

Bursary holders who are required to participate in off-campus placement during part of an academic year as an integral part of their course will have their bursary entitlement paid in the normal manner by MDI.

Bursary holders who take a year out to pursue activities, educational or otherwise, which do not form an integral part of the approved programme will not have their bursary payments made during their year of absence from college.

Bursary holders who participate in a compulsory year in attendance at a foreign third-level education institution as an integral part of their approved educational programme will have their bursary payments made in the normal course while abroad.

A bursary holder permitted to register for a succeeding year of their study programme while carrying one or more repeat subjects will have their bursary payments made while they remain registered. However, payments will terminate if the repeat exams are not passed within the required timeframe established at the commencement of the academic year.

No bursary will be paid in the event of repeat years, unless due to health reasons and a medical certificate is submitted. In such instances, requests for payment of the bursary for repeat years will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Payment of the bursary

The bursary will be paid to each successful student for the prescribed duration of the educational programme at an annual rate of €1,000 and to the maximum value of €4,000 for a continuous four-year educational programme.

MDI will pay the bursary in one lump sum by Electronic Fund Transfer directly into the student’s Irish bank account at the start of each academic year.

It will be paid once the student provides evidence of acceptance and registration on their course from the relevant college/institution.

Evidence of course progression and transcripts may be requested by MDI throughout the academic year to confirm the student is registered with the college and engaged in the approved course.

Renewal of the bursary

Subject to the normal duration of the approved course chosen, the bursary will be renewed when the student provides evidence of progression on their course for each year in order to certify that the bursary holder is meeting the conditions required.

MDI may terminate or lower the value of a bursary, at any time without notice where an unfavourable report on the bursary holder is received from the authorities of the relevant college/institution. A bursary holder who, during the course of their studies, wishes to change course or faculty or defer their bursary for one academic year and for that period only, must notify and obtain prior written approval from MDI.

Where a student changes course, the bursary payments will be deferred until the student reaches the point on the new course where participation on the original course ceased.

Where a student withdraws completely from their course, they must immediately notify MDI and MDI will reserve the right to seek reimbursement of part or all of the bursary amount transferred to the student.

The continuation of the bursary is also subject to MDI funding.

Determination of disputes

Every question or dispute which shall arise in relation to the interpretation of this scheme shall be determined by MDI whose decision thereon shall be final. Applicants may appeal against a funding decision if you feel that MDI’s procedures have not been followed. Applicants may appeal in writing within ten days outlining the reasons they believe their application was assessed or dealt with in a way that is not compatible with procedures outlined in bursary document. Appeals should be addressed to or by regular post to CEO, Muscular Dystrophy Ireland, 75 Lucan Road, Chapelizod, D20 DR77.


Approved educational institutions

 National University of Ireland, Dublin

National University of Ireland, Cork

National University of Ireland, Galway

Maynooth University

Trinity College Dublin

Dublin City University / St Patrick’s Drumcondra

University of Limerick

Technological University of the Shannon

TU Dublin – Blanchardstown

South East Technological University

Dundalk Institute of Technology

Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology

Atlantic Technological University – Galway-Mayo

Atlantic Technological University – Letterkenny

Technological University of the Shannon – Limerick

Atlantic Technological University – Sligo

Technological University Dublin – Tallaght

South East Technological University – Waterford

Munster Technological University, Kerry

Munster Technological University, Cork

Technological University Dublin – City Centre

National College of Art and Design

National College of Ireland

Dublin National College of Ireland

Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

St Angela’s College, Lough Gill, Sligo

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)

Dublin Marino Institute of Education

Carlow College, St Patrick’s

St Nicholas Montessori College Ireland.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. Other colleges offering FETAC/HETAC approved programmes will be considered.

1. Muscular Dystrophies

  • Becker muscular dystrophy
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  • Manifesting carrier of Duchenne
  • Congenital muscular dystrophy
  •     •  General
  •     •  MDC1A (merosin-deficient congenital muscular dystrophy)
  •     •  Rigid spine syndrome (RSS)
  •     •  Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophies
  •     •  Bethlem myopathy
  • Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy
  • Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy
  • Limb-girdle types of muscular dystrophy (LGMD)
  •     •  General
  •     •  LGMD 1B (also known as Laminopathy)
  •     •  LGMD 1C (also known as Caveolinopathy)
  •     •  LGMD 2A (also known as Calpainopathy)
  •     •  LGMD 2B (also known as Dysferlinopathy)
  •     •  LGMD 2I
  • Ocular myopathies including ocularopharangeal muscular dystrophy

2. Myotonic Disorders

  • Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy
  • Myotonia
  • Myotonic Dystrophy

3. Congenital Myopathies

  • Central Core Myopathy
  • Congenital Fibre-type Disproportion Myopathy
  • Minicore (Multicore) myopathy
  • Myotubular or Centronuclear myopathy
  • Nemaline myopathy

4. Mitochondrial Myopathies

  • Mitochondrial Myopathies

5. Metabolic Disorders

  • Metabolic disorders (general)
  • McArdle’s Disease
  • Pompe’s Disease

6. Periodic Paralyses

  • Periodic Paralyses

7. Autoimmune Myositis

  • Polymyositis, Dermatomyositis and Sarcoid myopathy
  • Juvenile dermatomyositis
  • Inclusion body myositis

8. Spinal Muscular Atrophies

  • Severe (Type I)
  • Intermediate (Type II)
  • Mild (Type III)
  • Adult spinal muscular atrophy

9. Hereditary Motor and Sensory Neuropathies

  • (Also known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth or Peroneal muscular atrophy)

10. Disorders of the Neuromuscular Junction

  • Congenital myasthenic syndromes
  • Myasthenia Gravis

11. Friedreich’s Ataxia

  • Friedreich’s Ataxia

12. Other (Please Specify)

13. Unspecified