The Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey, today welcomed a unique scholarship scheme - the first of its kind in the UK - which will help to ensure future economic competitiveness and attract high-quality students through its doors.
In face of the decades-long national decline in graduates in traditional science and engineering subjects, Queen's University has implemented a new scholarship programme which is designed to attract students to subjects essential for economic growth.
The scheme, for students entering the university in 2008, offers awards of £1,000 to all students achieving three As at A-level and enrolling on a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subject at Queen's.
Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "If Northern Ireland's economy is to survive and prosper in the global marketplace, it needs highly-qualified graduates in key areas of science and engineering, subjects which have shown a decline nationally in recent years.
"As a member of the Russell Group of leading UK universities, Queen's has played a major role in initiatives to encourage students to enrol in these subjects. This effort has paid off. Queen's has recorded a higher increase than the national average in student applications to areas such as chemistry and mathematics."
He continued: "The scholarships scheme seemed the next logical step.
"We are operating in a knowledge-led economy and it is crucial that we produce graduates with the right blend of know-how, expertise and innovation to ensure future economic prosperity."
Employment and Learning Minister, Sir Reg Empey, said he was pleased that the initiative to encourage more people to study STEM subjects at university has been introduced at Queen's.
"A future Northern Ireland economy, capable of competing on an international platform, will rely heavily on people who have studied these subjects," he said.