Ivy League opportunities for NI students

Yale associate director of admissions Keith Light with NI student Aidan Donaghey.
Yale associate director of admissions Keith Light with NI student Aidan Donaghey.
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Representatives from two of the United States’ top universities will visit Belfast this week to launch a programme in partnership with peace-building charity Co-operation Ireland that will see gifted working class students from both sides of the community awarded full scholarships to Ivy League colleges.

Representatives from Yale University (ranked second in the world) and Columbia University (sixteenth in world rankings) will visit the Farset International Hotel on the Springfield Road on Thursday evening to launch the Building Bridges 2020 Programme.

To complete a degree at Yale or Columbia would cost in the region of $250,000, not including expenses. Building Bridges sees the Ivy League colleges pay the tuition fees, with Co-operation Ireland providing extra expenses.

Building Bridges originated in Londonderry but this is the first year Belfast students will be invited to apply.

Co-operation Ireland chief executive Peter Sheridan said the programme is designed to help gifted pupils overcome the financial hurdle of attending one of the world’s top universities.

“The calibre of student in Northern Ireland has never been in doubt, but while young people may have the grades to attend a college like Yale and Columbia, the cost of fees are an obstacle to taking up a place,” he said.

“We have designed the project to allow these young people the chance of a lifetime to gain a degree at a world class institution. It is our hope that they will then act as ambassadors for the programme.”

Co-operation Ireland will manage the Building Bridges programme, with the support of Yale, Columbia and a consortium of NI academics and business representatives.