Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur has helped secure an extension of scholarship funding to support Orkney-based postgraduate students at the International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT).
ICIT, based at Heriot Watt University’s campus in Stromness, offers a range of courses relating to the marine environment and renewable energy, which have proved increasingly popular with students, many of whom go on to stay and work in Orkney. ICIT has previously supported 25 graduates into local businesses in Orkney over the last four years.
Proposed changes to the way in which postgraduate places would be funded risked making this more difficult in future. Mr McArthur therefore wrote to the interim Chair of the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), Dr John Kemp highlighting the potential impact of the changes on ICIT. After a constructive meeting in parliament, Dr Kemp agreed to review the situation and has now confirmed that an extension to the current arrangements would be offered to ICIT to assist with the transition. This will enable the continued growth of the campus and the student body.
Mr McArthur commented:
“ICIT is a world leader in research of the marine environment. Given the opportunities that Orkney presents for ‘hands-on’ experience, it is no surprise that the courses offered by ICIT are proving increasingly popular with students from around the world.
“Given the natural resources around our shores and business base Orkney has been leading the way when it comes to in energy innovation, not only in terms of our natural resources, but by also having world class academic research, expertise and facilities on our doorstep.
“The close work undertaken with local businesses involved in the renewable energy sector has also opened up opportunities for students to go on to develop their careers in Orkney. This is a prime example of how the postgraduate programmes deliver significant benefits to Orkney’s economy as well as the wider community.
“I welcome the fact that the Scottish Funding Council has recognised the importance of safeguarding these benefits in future. Quite rightly, the SFC wants to make sure that the funding it provides for post graduate study is delivering as much as it can across the board. Equally, however, it needs to ensure that existing benefits are not inadvertently lost in the process.
“I am very grateful to Dr Kemp and the SFC for the constructive way in which they have engaged in these discussions. Allowing a little more time to assess how an islands-based campus like ICIT can play its part in what the SFC is trying to achieve makes sense for all concerned. By maintaining the current funding arrangements that assessment can now be undertaken without disrupting the excellent work that ICIT does”.