SSE Airtricity, Northern Ireland’s second largest energy provider, has partnered with two of Northern Ireland’s largest education providers, the University of Ulster and South West College, to launch the SSE Airtricity Scholarship in what is a major boost to students from the West and North-West of the country.
The SSE Airtricity Scholarship has been unveiled today by Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry with Chairman of SSE Ireland Mark Ennis.
The new Scholarship, which is funded by SSE Airtricity’s largest wind farm, is open to applicants living in Co. Derry-Londonderry and Co. Tyrone and is one of the most significant bursary schemes ever launched in Northern Ireland. It is designed to provide funding support from wind energy to students living in the vicinity of Slieve Kirk Wind Park who are going forward to Third Level education.
The Scholarship, which has a total annual value of almost £100,000, is now open for applications for this coming academic year. Students applying to either the University of Ulster or South West College for the Scholarship are urged to apply before the September 30th deadline.
More than 20 students per year from Counties Derry-Londonderry and Tyrone will receive 50% funding support from SSE Airtricity towards the cost of their Third Level student fees at the University of Ulster and South West College.
A total of 12 SSE Airtricity Scholarships for full time Degree and full and part time Masters level courses are available with the University of Ulster while ten Foundation Degrees are available through South West College. Scholarships are available for a broad range of subjects with a particular emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses.
In addition SSE Airtricity is announcing that it will entirely fund two online courses at South West College offering a Level 2 Certificate qualification in Health & Safety and Microsoft Skills. There are no minimum entry requirements to these online courses and no upper limit on the number of students who can participate.
Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry said: “This is another very welcome announcement by SSE Airtricity. I commend the company for supporting these educational bursary scholarships and also funding two online courses which demonstrates their commitment to learning and development.
“These types of initiatives align with my Department’s aim of helping to equip people with the skills and qualifications necessary to enter employment. I am pleased that the Company has established partnerships with two very able providers, the University of Ulster and South West College, and I would encourage eligible students to participate in these initiatives.”
Mark Ennis, Chairman of SSE Ireland, said: “There is nothing more important to young people and their families than access to high quality education and at SSE Airtricity we recognise that enrolling in Third Level education involves a large financial commitment. The new SSE Airtricity Scholarship, supported by our Regional Fund for all new wind farms, is about funding the future through local energy. It will make a real difference in the lives of local people and will help make the educational aspirations of families local to our new wind farms a reality. It further demonstrates the company’s continued commitment to working in partnership with and investing in local communities.
“We have partnered with two outstanding educational institutions in both South West College and the University of Ulster. We will work closely with each institution for this coming academic year and for future years to extend the learning and development opportunity that the SSE Airtricity Scholarship offers to local communities in the West and North-West.”
Dr Justin Quinn, Director of the Centre of Renewable Energy Engineering at the University of Ulster, said: “The University of Ulster is renowned for academic excellence and the quality of its teaching and this Scholarship will enable even more people from the West and North-West to access higher education and the longer term opportunities it can deliver.
“The Scholarship will support students across a wide range of courses, delivered primarily at our Magee and Coleraine campuses. From engineering and environmental science to management and medical related topics, the areas of study on offer will open up a world of career opportunities and help even more students to maximise their potential.”
Malachy McAleer, Director of South West College, said: “South West College is delighted to be associated with the SSE Airtricity Scholarship. SWC have circa 1,500 Higher Education students and many of them choose to study with us because of our Grade 1 status, our geographical location and the availability of high quality, affordable degree programmes. As a provider of education and training in the South West Region of Northern Ireland, and internationally, we are acutely aware of the current financial demands being placed upon students.
“The launch of the SSE Airtricity Scholarship will influence the decision making of students who would otherwise be unable to take up the option of Higher Education. This will have a huge impact on their life chances, and will mean that more students will be able to achieve the qualification they desire, and contribute to the local and regional economy.”
Applying to the SSE Airtricity Scholarship
The SSE Airtricity Scholarship is now open to applications for this coming academic year. Applicants must be aged 17 and over with a home address in either County Derry-Londonderry or County Tyrone, with priority consideration given to applicants living within a 12mile radius of Slieve Kirk Wind Park.
Applicants must hold an unconditional offer for a place on the first year (2014/‘15) of a qualifying course. Full details and the Scholarship terms and conditions are available at http://www.sseairtricity.com/uk/home/who-we-are/community/sse-airtricity-scholarship-fund/
Students will be required to demonstrate excellence in their academic career to date and in their chosen academic field and to show how their Third Level studies will help develop their personal and professional aspirations.
All applicants should apply directly to either the University of Ulster or South West College. The application process closes on 30 September 2014. Only applications received by post with supporting evidence attached will be accepted.
About the Slieve Kirk Regional Fund
The SSE Airtricity Scholarship is supported by the Slieve Kirk Wind Park Regional Fund, which was established this year by SSE Airtricity to promote learning and development opportunities in the local community around Slieve Kirk Wind Park, Northern Ireland’s largest single wind generation site.
The value of the new SSE Airtricity Regional Fund will grow as the company develops new wind farms. The Slieve Kirk Wind Park Regional Fund operates alongside the existing Community Fund for Slieve Kirk Wind Park, which already totals almost £200,000 annually and funds energy efficiency improvements in community projects beside the wind farm.