Students are being given the opportunity to work directly with international marine conservation organisations while completing their studies.
Thanks to a pioneering partnership between the University of Plymouth and the Ocean Giants Trust, a series of scholarships have been awarded to marine biology and conservation undergraduates.
The first Ocean Giants Scholars will get to complement their studies by working alongside charities based in locations such as Mexico, Mozambique, the Philippines and Tanzania for the next three years.
This will include a placement during the students’ third year, when they will get the chance to travel and see the charities' work first hand.
The five scholars, and their selected deputies, will also work with the Trust to set up their own charity to support the organisations, and ensure the partnership becomes self-sustaining in the future.
Martin Attrill, Professor of Marine Ecology at the University, said:
“Nowhere in the world do undergraduate marine students get an opportunity of this nature. It will give them the unique experience of learning about marine biology and conservation with us, but also provides the chance to actually run a real environmental charity and apply those skills learned in the real world. Many of our students go on to work with conservation charities and NGOs when they graduate, and this will provide them with the perfect experience that could inspire their future careers.”
The Ocean Giants Trust seeks to develop enduring conservation solutions from pioneering research, to nurture local conservation action and education, to champion international protection and to inspire a new generation of Ocean Guardians.
A key part of its ethos is to encourage sustainability and financial independence, so that they can take advantage of local knowledge and develop expertise where it is most needed.
Andy Prebble, chairman of the trustees at the Ocean Giants Trust, said:
“This is a really exciting moment, for us and the charities we work with but also for our first scholars. We hope their knowledge and passion can benefit our organisations, helping them to continue and expand the excellent work they are doing in often very challenging circumstances.
“For the students themselves, we hope it will give them an outstanding opportunity to put what they are learning into practice. It can be tough starting out, and NGOs often tell us the lack of relevant experience among graduates is one of the real issues they face, so this initiative should be a win-win for everyone involved.”