Launch of €300,000 blockchain and DLT schol­ar­ships

The Malta Business Weekly - - NEWS -

A €300,000 blockchain and DLT schol­ar­ship fund was launched yes­ter­day, aimed at stu­dents spe­cial­is­ing in ICT, law, fi­nance and engi­neer­ing to fur­ther fur­ther their stud­ies in DLT and blockchain tech­nol­ogy—an amount that is to be in­vested over a pe­riod of three years.

This was launched through the sign­ing of a Me­moran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing be­tween the Univer­sity of Malta and MITA, at the Fac­ulty of ICT at the Univer­sity of Malta.

Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion and Em­ploy­ment Evarist Bar­tolo stated that the new schol­ar­ships al­lowed stu­dents to carry out re­search dis­ser­ta­tions re­lated to the lat­est tech­nol­ogy—Dig­i­tal Ledger Tech­nol­ogy —at Mas­ter’s and PhD lev­els. The aim is to en­cour­age young peo­ple to be at the fore­front of ad­vance­ment in this sec­tor as Malta es­tab­lishes it­self as a lead­ing hub for blockchain. This in­cen­tive is an es­sen­tial con­tri­bu­tion to ed­u­ca­tion at large, open­ing new doors and op­por­tu­ni­ties within the em­ploy­ment sec­tor. The govern­ment views ed­u­ca­tion as an in­vest­ment in it­self and schol­ar­ship as­sis­tance is a tes­ta­ment to this.

“Af­ter the Mal­tese Govern­ment came up with a reg­u­la­tory frame­work to reg­u­late this emer­gent sec­tor while at­tract­ing com­pa­nies which op­er­ate in this space to do so in Malta, the next step for­ward was to invest in the hu­man re­source in or­der for com­pa­nies to op­er­ate from Malta”, ex­plained Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices, Dig­i­tal Econ­omy and Innovation Sil­vio Schem­bri.

He noted that some of the blockchain-based com­pa­nies that de­cided to base their head­quar­ters in Malta are al­ready rent­ing out of­fices and are well into the re­cruit­ment process. “In view of this, we are aware that these com­pa­nies need tech­ni­cal re­sources both to build and to op­er­ate by use of this tech­nol­ogy, as well as ex­perts in fi­nan­cial ser­vices, law and manige­rial roles”, said Schem­bri, while adding that he looks for­ward to see­ing Mal­tese stu­dents oc­cu­py­ing such im­por­tant posts in this sec­tor.

He also en­cour­aged stu­dents to ben­e­fit from these schol­ar­ships and spe­cialise in a new and emer­gent sec­tor that is set to pos­i­tively im­pact Malta’s eco­nomic growth.

MITA Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man Tony Sul­tana said that this ini­tia­tive sus­tains other ini­tia­tives which MITA is tak­ing along with other ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions with the aim of in­creas­ing the num­ber of stu­dents who pur­sue a ca­reer in the ICT sec­tor. “These ini­ta­tives are part and par­cel of MITA’s strat­egy of in­vest­ing in new tech­nolo­gies such as blockchain and DLT while pro­vid­ing the nec­es­sary tools to en­cour­age stu­dents to fur­ther their stud­ies in these sub­jects”, said Sul­tana.

He also said that be­sides ed­u­ca­tional ini­tia­tives, MITA car­ries out a num­ber of train­ing ses­sion for MITA em­ploy­ees and those within the pub­lic sec­tor with the aim of fa­mil­iaris­ing them with this tech­nol­ogy. Tony Sul­tana also spoke of MITA’s com­mit­ment to invest and sus­tain hu­man re­source, hence why it will be the main IT part­ner dur­ing the Delta Sum­mit 2018, Malta’s Of­fi­cial Blockchain and Dig­i­tal Innovation Event, which is to be held in Oc­to­ber.

Rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Malta Prof. Al­fred Vella re­it­er­ated the univer­sity’s com­mit­ment to con­tinue its in­ter­nal ex­er­cise to see to de­gree and mas­ter’s pro­grammes in sev­eral ar­eas in­clud­ing law, fi­nance and ICT amongst oth­ers, be­ing re­viewed in the com­ing 18 months to in­clude units cov­er­ing the ar­eas of DLT, blockchain, cryp­tocur­ren­cies and reg­u­la­tion, AI, IOT, fin­tech and regtech. The pur­pose be­hind this ex­er­cise is to have ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes in place which are in line with the govern­ment’s strat­egy to make Malta “the blockchain is­land”.

Schol­ar­ships will be made avail­able for stu­dents start­ing their stud­ies dur­ing the scholas­tic year 2018/2019. The schol­ar­ship will be open for any UoM course at mas­ter’s and doc­tor­ate level on a full-time or part-time ba­sis, hav­ing at least a min­i­mum of 30 ECTS di­rectly re­lated to DLTs that is to be en­sured through the Cen­tre for DLTs, in­de­pen­dent of the fac­ulty within which the stu­dent forms part of. Stu­dents will be pro­vided with full spon­sor­ship for the course and the amount to be awarded is to be fixed for all stu­dents.

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