Economy Minister Gordon Lyons is encouraging women and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply for a new £15,000 bursary to support engineering studies.
Eight bursaries of £15,000 each are available to eligible women and girls to study engineering or related subjects at higher education institutions in the UK and Ireland, with applications open now.
The bursaries are one element of the £500,000 Northern Ireland Engineering Education Programme, funded by the Department for the Economy. Other measures being funded include grants of up to £3,000 to schools and further education colleges to help purchase engineering teaching resources, and STEM challenge days for students to excite, inspire, and stimulate interest.
The programme is being delivered in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering. The Minister met with the Chair of the DfE Women in STEM Steering Group, Dr Bryan Keating CBE, at Netherleigh to discuss the programme, which was endorsed by the steering group.
The Minister said: “I am delighted that my Department is supporting this programme. It is well known that women and girls, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are massively underrepresented in engineering-related study areas and, in turn, career paths. This is an inequality that we must work to address and the NI Engineering Education Programme will help achieve this.
“These bursaries are targeted specifically at women and girls who are seeking to pursue a course of engineering-related study at higher education level and who, without this support, may not be able to meet the costs of doing so. I want to remove as many barriers as possible for these women and girls.”
The Minister continued: “The programme is being supported by £500,000 of funding through my Department’s Economic Recovery Action Plan (ERAP), which we put in place in direct response to the impact of the pandemic. These supports also align well with our 10X Economic Vision for a decade of innovation as we seek to position Northern Ireland as one of the world’s leading small economies in the future.
“I encourage women and girls who are eligible to look into these bursaries and apply – it could be the springboard to an exciting and fulfilling career in engineering.”
Gillian Gregg, Head of Regional Engagement at the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “We are thrilled that the Department for the Economy is supporting this programme. Women represent only around 16% of Northern Ireland-domiciled engineering and technology students at UK universities. This underrepresentation in higher education impacts the profession, with a similar small proportion of those working in engineering – under one in five – being women, according to EngineeringUK.
“We are excited for this opportunity to support more women and girls from all backgrounds to pursue engineering studies and to encourage greater diversity among future engineers.”
Eligibility criteria for applicants include at least one parent being eligible for state benefits, or the applicant being continuously eligible for free school meals in their post-16 studies.
Details of how to apply for the bursaries are available on the Royal Academy of Engineering website.
Applications are open until 4pm on Monday 25 July 2022.