THE Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) is looking to produce the aquaculture industry leaders of the future as it invites applications for a new, world-class joint master’s degree course, offered through the University of the Highlands and Islands.
The specialised degree in AquaCulture, Environment and Society (ACES), which has just taken on its first cohort of students, is part of the European Union’s ambitious Erasmus+ programme (previously known as Erasmus mundus), making it one of Europe’s highest ranked academic programmes.
The two-year course aims to attract talented international students with a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent), as well as mature students with relevant experience, in one of the fields of environmental or social sciences.
It will be run in partnership with the universities of Crete and Nantes and the United Nations University Institute of Water, Environment and Health (UNU INWEH), Canada.
Fully-funded scholarships are available for ACES, which has been specifically designed alongside industry to address major scientific, technological and social obstacles facing the sustainable development of the global aquaculture industry.
Italian student Francesco Boatta (pictured) is part of the first ACES cohort, which has begun studies at SAMS UHI, near Oban.
He said: ‘My application to the ACES joint master’s degree was motivated by the perfect match I found between the programme and the interests arisen during my academic career.
‘I saw it also as a great opportunity to develop my professional skills, to achieve an applied knowledge of the aquaculture industry and its relation with society, and to broaden my expertise in different fields across Europe.
‘I firmly believe that this master’s degree will provide me with the opportunity to establish an international professional network, the privilege to learn directly from several academic and private sector experts and the tools to reach a highly specialised professional competence, permitting me to be an active part in sustainable aquaculture development.’
Successful applicants spend semester one at SAMS UHI, before going on to study finfish aquaculture in Greece and shellfish aquaculture in France.
The students will then complete research projects at one of the three centres in semester four, before returning to Oban for the final student conference.
Dr Lois Calder, SAMS UHI’s head of education, said: ‘We are delighted to be co-ordinating this exciting programme and welcoming the first ACES students.
‘The ACES master’s degree is a fantastic opportunity for any student wishing to flourish in the aquaculture industry and we look forward to receiving applications now for the course beginning in August 2016.
‘We have strong relationships with the aquaculture industry, which will help to build student networks and support personal and professional development of the very particular skill set they will need for the future.’
David Jarrad, director of the Shellfish Association of Great Britain, said: ‘As a trade association, representing large and small aquaculture businesses UK-wide, we are often asked for sources of practical training and I believe this joint master’s programme will provide the opportunity to learn a broad range of skills relevant to the industry.
‘The ACES programme will also address a pressing need in the European aquaculture sector for a mix of expert practical skill with high level scientific knowledge.’