SIX Belfast students have won prestigious medals at an island wide ceremony.
Irish president Mary McAleese presented the students with their Oscar Wilde Gold Medals at the Undergraduate Awards Ceremony in Dublin Castle.
Northern Ireland students made up six of the 23 winners — five from Queen’s University and one from Stranmillis College.
Louise Hodgson, programme director of the Undergraduate Awards said: “Queen’s University Belfast had the second-highest number of winners from one institution, but, in fact, it came out on top in terms of the proportion of winners compared to the amount of total submissions from one institution.”
Of the QUB contingent, Alan Russell won the Ancient & Classical Studies category. He was also awarded the Mary Gardiner Prize, given each year to the Ancient History student who achieves the greatest distinction in the final examinations.
Dominic Henry won the International Relations & Politics category; Jonathan Mitchell won the Social Studies category; Nathan Moore won the Medical Sciences category; and Vincent McAllister won the Physical Sciences category.
The Stranmillis winner is Steven Park, who won the Teacher Education category. He was also awarded Stranmillis College’s Mahon Prize for being the top male student in the final year examinations.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry, said: “The Undergraduate Awards provides an excellent opportunity to recognise and promote the high calibre of our undergraduates and our higher education sector.
“It provides a showcase for their skills, knowledge and attributes on a global stage. The higher education sector in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can be very proud of their graduates. It is particularly important in the current climate to support our young people in developing the skills to enable them to obtain employment and contribute to society and the economy as a whole.”
The Undergraduate Awards is the largest and most varied student awards programme, open to students in their final or penultimate year on a degree course from every third level institution. This year, the Undergraduate Awards also launched an international programme in a selection of top universities in the USA.
The 2011 Awards programme received 2,381 submissions from 41 institutions including six from USA universities: Columbia, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, Boston College and the University of Chicago.