Our new local university project, NMITE, continues to go from strength to strength.
Readers will recall that the September student intake almost doubled in size over the previous year, with 55 students, many of them from Herefordshire. The latest feedback Is that they are thriving, very much fired up by the combination of high academic standards, a real life working environment, working in teams, lots of access to faculty and a changing mix of challenges and opportunities to learn.
Now NMITE have announced a further groundbreaking local initiative: 30 new Lifechanger Bursaries of up to £10,000, available to successful student applicants who have lived or studied in Herefordshire for the past two years.
The bursaries represent a phenomenal investment in the long-term future of Herefordshire. These young people will have the opportunity to receive a superb education right on their doorsteps, and while many of them may decide to work in large national international companies, many will undoubtedly decide to stay in the county once they have graduated, either working for local businesses or setting up as entrepreneurs in their own right.
That's a huge win-win.
Even more than new infrastructure, local economic development is geared to a long-term improvement in the skills of local people; so these bursaries will also have a major effect in supporting local businesses, building skills across the county, and offering incredible individual opportunities to the young people energetic enough and passionate enough to qualify for them.
Further details are on the NMITE website, www.nmite.ac.uk; the key point is that they are available on a first come first served basis, with a long stop date in June 2024.
But these bursaries do not simply represent an investment in the county, but in the whole region. After all, you can still qualify for them if you have been studying in Herefordshire, but come from adjoining counties in England and Wales, as many students do. I was very excited to highlight this point when I spoke at the recent launch of the Marches Forward Partnership, a new grouping of the four local authorities of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Powys and Monmouthshire.
The new Partnership will embrace a range of areas including transport, tourism, economic development and the environment, the River Wye and other important local issues. But these new NMITE Lifechanger Bursaries add another dimension , higher education, which further underlines the scope for future cooperation. Bravo!