Post-Graduate Scholarships for SIDS Students at the University of Malta


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At Island Innovation we are strongly committed to driving sustainable change across island and rural communities, and to helping the international community work towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG4 aims to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. The transformational power of high-quality education is undeniable and the ability to learn new information, knowledge and skills offers life-long value to those able to take advantage of it, as well as for the societies that they live in, as greater education leads to increased prosperity.

The Islands and Small States Institute of the University of Malta (ISSI) was founded over 30 years ago and offers a fantastic range of island development  focused courses. These are of great benefit to those who want to help to shape sustainable island communities of the future, especially those from Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Students are attracted to studying at ISSI for a variety of reasons including being able to study a multidisciplinary programme that looks at the economic, social and environmental aspects of SIDS, the focus on the geographic aspects of island states, the diversity of students, the flexibility of learning, the excellent teaching staff, the holistic approach to studying islands, and the ability to utilise distance learning. Another significant appeal of studying at ISSI, is Malta itself which is an island with an incredible history, culture and climate, and as many students have noted, can provide important lessons to small island states across the world. The University of Malta is also a highly prestigious educational institution which was founded over 250 years ago, adding an even greater appeal to studying at ISSI.

We are excited to share the news that the Maltese Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs (MFEA) in collaboration with the Islands and Small States Institute of the University of Malta (ISSI), is providing scholarships for students who are nationals of certain Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Citizens of the following countries are eligible: Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Cabo Verde, Comoros, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Federated States of Micronesia, Montserrat, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, São Tomé and Principe, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

Starting with the Academic Year 2021/22, the MFEA will be offering:

(1) two annual scholarships for students reading for a full-time Master of Arts (Research on Islands and Small States), and

(2) one scholarship for a Doctor in Philosophy (PhD) student.

Selection criteria, among others, include past academic achievement and quality in the research proposal.

Stefano Moncada, Director of the ISSI, stated that “these scholarships are part of a recent collaboration agreement between the University of Malta and the Maltese Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs. It allows students from Small Island Developing States to engage in our postgraduate research and study in a centre of excellence specialising in Islands and Small States Studies. This will not only contribute to their individual academic and professional development but, we hope, also to the broader sustainable development of their respective countries. We believe this is a brilliant opportunity for the Maltese Government and for the University of Malta to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and the promotion of development cooperation scenarios which are a win-win for all.”

In addition to the scholarships, it is important to highlight that both the Master by research in Islands and Small States studies (full-time or part-time), and PhD programme can be studied fully online or in blended form (in-person and online). This new way of learning, driven by both technology and the global pandemic, presents a great opportunity for potential students living in SIDS, as it means they no longer need to leave their island to be able to study at the Islands and Small States Institute, at the prestigious University of Malta. The Islands and Small States Institute which was founded over 30 years ago, promotes research and training on economic, social, cultural, ecological and geographical aspects of islands and small states.

Island Innovation founder, James Ellsmoor, completed his own Master’s in Island Studies via distance learning and after graduating went on to co-found a non-profit organisation and later start Island Innovation. Since its inception Island Innovation has grown an international online community of thousands of islanders, reaching them through large-scale virtual events which are designed to bring about positive change through education. This is a testament to the importance of online learning and to the power it can have in helping to shape the future. 

The courses offered by the Islands and Small States Institute present a superb opportunity to develop talent and leadership within SIDS communities. These individuals will be able to use their new knowledge to put in place policies that will truly benefit the places that they have grown up in and help these communities to gain agency over their own future development. 

Further information about the ISSI Course Programmes can be obtained here.

Interested candidates are encouraged to contact the ISSI’s team on at their very earliest, in order to discuss admission requirements, scholarship eligibility and their research proposal. The deadline to submit an expression of interest is 4th June, and for the application is 9th July 2021.

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