3rd Aug 2012
Minister's extra cash injection to boost ICT and food safety courses
The ICT and agri-food sectors are of 'critical importance' to the growth of the Northern Ireland economy, according to Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry.
He has announced additional funding for conversion Masters courses in software development and advanced food safety. The additional funding has been made available due to the reduction in post graduate certificate places in education by the Department of Education for Queen's University and the University of Ulster.
This has allowed DEL to reinvest funding to other economically relevant Masters courses within the two universities.
The Minister said: "The ICT and agri-food sectors are of critical importance to the growth of the Northern Ireland economy. If we are to realise these industries' full potential, it is clear that more needs to be done to improve the match between the skills of those people in the workforce and the skills our employers require to help our companies grow.
"This investment in economically relevant postgraduate courses, such as software development and advanced food safety at our two leading universities, will assist to improve the match between the skills of our emerging graduates and those which support economic growth.
"The announcement builds on the work the Department is already taking forward such as the ICT Action Plan, the ICT Skills Taskforce, the Food and Drink Manufacturing Sector Action Plan and the launch of second cohort of the successful Software Testers’ Academy."
Queen's University is to increase recruitment by 30 students on the MSc conversion course in software development and the MSc in advanced food safety. Whilst, the University of Ulster will provide 33 scholarships (fees only) for the MSc conversion course in professional software development.
In response to a shortage of high-quality software developers, the University of Ulster's Professor Richard Millar said: "While the main beneficiaries will be the graduates who are successful in gaining a scholarship, this initiative should also be seen as providing support for Northern Ireland's software industry."
Welcoming the Minister's announcement, Queen's University Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tony Gallagher said: "This will make a significant contribution to the skills gap and support the growth of local companies and the further development of the knowledge economy within Northern Ireland."