Belfast Telegraph

Student exchange event will help mark place on global learning map

By Heather McGarrigle

Northern Ireland celebrated its involvement in a global student exchange programme with a reception held at Stormont this week.

The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) has chosen Northern Ireland as the host country for its 2013 conference.

The event will bring more than 250 delegates from 85 countries throughout the world to spend a week in Belfast.

Thirty-five students from 23 different countries are currently on placement in Northern Ireland as part of the IAESTE programme.

The students were welcomed to Stormont this week at a reception sponsored by Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry.

With 32 Northern Ireland students currently undertaking IAESTE placements across the globe, the minister acknowledged the potential benefits to students.

He said: "In an increasingly mobile global environment it is essential that programmes such as IAESTE are used by young people from Northern Ireland, and beyond, to maximise their learning experiences and fully prepare them for the career challenges that lie ahead."

This year, six new Northern Ireland employers came on board - Schrader Electronics, Sustainable Northern Ireland, GE Energy, Total Mobile, Northern Ireland Science Park and Moy Park.

Louise Caskey of GE Energy said the company's involvement in the placement programme had "benefited both employer and IAESTE candidate".

The IAESTE programme is funded by the Department of Education with support from the Department for Employment and Learning in conjunction with local universities and the British Council, the UK's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.

David Alderdice, British Council Director for Northern Ireland, said: "The placements set the foundations for future business partnerships, links and networks.

"For the outgoing students, the programme helps to prepare our local undergraduates for working in a global economy through the experience and contacts they obtain from their international work placements."