SSE Airtricity backing bright sparks with second scholarship fund

SSE Airtricity, Northern Ireland’s largest provider of wind power, has today launched the second year of the SSE Airtricity Scholarship to support students from the West and North-West of the country going on to third level education.

The 2015 SSE Airtricity Scholarship, which totals almost £100,000 annually, was unveiled by Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry with Chairman of SSE Ireland Mark Ennis. The Scholarship, which is funded by wind energy, is one of the most significant bursary schemes available to full time students in Northern Ireland.

The SSE Airtricity Scholarship is directly supported by the Regional Fund from SSE’s Slieve Kirk Wind Park near Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland’s largest wind farm. The Scholarship is open to applicants living in Co. Derry-Londonderry and Co. Tyrone and 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 2015 SSE Airtricity Scholarship is now open for applications for this coming academic year. Around 20 students are expected to be selected this year to receive 50% funding support from SSE Airtricity towards the cost of their Third Level student fees at Ulster University and South West College.

Students applying to either institute for the Scholarship are urged to apply before the deadline on September 30.

A range of full time Degree and full and part time Masters level courses are available with Ulster University and a range of Degree and Foundation Degree level courses with South West College. This year a number of new courses have been added to the list of available options with South West College, giving students more courses to choose from. 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 again this year 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: “SSE Airtricity is to be congratulated for its initiative in providing this scholarship. The company’s scheme provides very welcome support to a number of high performing students. The focus on engineering, computing, life and health sciences, management and leadership aligns with a number of my Department’s priorities and with the needs of the economy in Northern Ireland. It is very encouraging to see a local business investing in the future of our young people.”

Mark Ennis, Chairman of SSE Ireland, said:

“When we launched the Scholarship last year we said it was all about supporting the educational future of the next generation through local energy. After one year, we’re extremely proud of the success of our inaugural Fund having supported more than 20 students in gaining access to high quality education at two of Northern Ireland’s most outstanding educational institutions.

“Supporting Third Level education involves a large financial commitment and through the Scholarship Fund, we are able to make the educational aspirations of families local to our new wind farms a reality. The Scholarship demonstrates the company’s continued commitment to working in partnership with and investing in local communities around our wind farms.”

Raymond Henderson from Co. Londonderry, who is studying an MSc in Stratified Medicine at Ulster University, received funding towards his postgraduate degree last year and commented on how the Scholarship Fund benefitted him:

“The SSE Airtricity Scholarship Fund provided me with a real boost towards my studies, both financially and academically. The Scholarship has allowed me to return to university and pursue a career in science, a move that may not have been possible without the support of the Fund. I would wholeheartedly encourage any potential undergraduate or postgraduate student to make an application for the programme, and to take full advantage of the meet and greet programmes that are a part of the scholarship.”

Dr Justin Quinn, Director of the Centre of Renewable Energy Engineering at Ulster University said:

“Ulster University offers a modern teaching and learning experience that is shaped by our research and collaboration with industry. This ensures that our graduates are equipped with the necessary skills to thrive in the working world. The SSE Airtricity Scholarship will support students undertaking a wide range of courses mainly at our Magee and Coleraine campuses. It will provide access to third level education for even more young people across the West and North West of Northern Ireland.”

Michael McAlister – Head of Curriculum and Business Development at South West College said:

“South West College is delighted with the tremendous success of the SSE Airtricity Scholarship. This award has been a significant benefit to the students who received it over the past year. The College has circa 1,700 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, both in the South West Region of Northern Ireland and internationally, we are acutely aware of the current financial demands being placed upon students. The SSE Airtricity Scholarship will continue to influence the decision making of students who would otherwise be unable to take up the option of Higher Education.

Additionally, the SSE sponsorship of our two fully online programmes will widen participation and provide greater flexibility for both on and off the job training. This will have a huge impact on the career aspiration of students, enabling them to achieve the qualification they desire.”

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 12 mile radius of Slieve Kirk Wind Park.

Applicants must hold an unconditional offer for a place on the first year (2015/‘16) of a qualifying course from either Ulster University or South West College. Full details and the Scholarship terms and conditions are available at www.Ireland.sse.com.

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 Ulster University or South West College. The application process closes on 30 September 2015. Only applications received by Registered Post to Ulster University or South West College with supporting evidence attached will be accepted.