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Ocean Country Partnership Programme Scholarships (OCPP) extended to students in 10 countries including Sri Lanka

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The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) today announce the launch of up to 14 additional fully funded Ocean Country Partnership Programme (OCPP) Scholarships for students from Sri Lanka – bringing the OCPP Scholarships to students in 10 different ODA-eligible countries.

Receiving funding through the UK’s £500 million Blue Planet Fund, the scholarships are open to students from Sri Lanka wishing to undertake a Master’s in their own country and develop a career in marine science.

The OCPP Sri Lanka Scholarships have now opened for applications at selected universities in Sri Lanka for the forthcoming academic year, following a successful pilot programme in the South Pacific last year.

Hosted by University of Kelaniya and the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, the OCPP Scholarships Sri Lanka will fund a range of Master’s degree courses in marine science, enabling scholars to undertake world-class research and innovation to help protect marine environments.

By supporting early career researchers who wish to develop a career in marine science, the scholarships will contribute to the conservation and sustainable management of marine resources and strengthen responses to marine environmental challenges.

The scholarships will also make a positive and tangible impact on the livelihoods of coastal communities that depend on healthy marine ecosystems, as scholars harness their on-the-ground knowledge, conduct vital research and help develop local solutions to local marine environmental issues.

Professor Colin Riordan CBE, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), said:

‘At this critical moment for global transformative climate action, we are delighted to extend the OCPP Scholarships to universities in Sri Lanka –bringing the OCPP Scholarships to students in a total of 10 different countries.

‘At COP28 the ACU was proud to highlight the vital role that higher education plays in driving climate action, protecting marine environments and ensuring sustainable seas. The OCPP Scholarships Sri Lanka will enable early career researchers in Sri Lanka to do just this, funding vital research and postgraduate study in climate vulnerable settings.’

Neil Hornby, Chief Executive of Cefas, said:

‘Cefas continues to be proud to work with the ACU to support the Ocean Country Partnership Programme scholarships. This next set of scholarships in Sri Lanka, builds on the other OCPP scholarships across the world that are contributing to an enhanced knowledge base in partner countries to tackle the key marine challenges of biodiversity loss, marine pollution and sustainable seafood. This programme extends Cefas’ support for students internationally, creating opportunities for them to develop their science and enabling much needed scientific research to take place in these countries.’

Professor Sushil Kumar, Director of Research, University of the South Pacific (USP), summarised his experience of hosting the OCPP Scholarships pilot programme:

‘The Ocean Country Partnership Programme (OCPP) has provided an excellent opportunity to the budding researchers from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji, to pursue higher research Degree (Master’s and PhD) and develop skills and expertise to address the regional and global challenges in the areas of Marine Pollution, Marine Biodiversity, and sustainable seafood, supporting sustainable ocean practices. The USP currently has 13 early-mid career researchers registered in Master’s and PhD programmes under the pilot OCPP scholarship programme, with backgrounds in Marine and environmental management.

‘This partnership between USP and ACU and Cefas, has also provided an opportunity for USP academics to collaborate on different research projects and produce research output. The USP looks forward to having more students under this scholarship scheme, both from the region and internationally contributing to the capacity building in these areas of regional significance.’

This news follows the announcements earlier this year that the OCPP Scholarships have reopened for a second consecutive year in the South Pacific (Solomon Islands and Vanuatu), and extended for the first time to students in the Maldives, Ghana, India, Bangladesh, Belize, Senegal and Mozambique.

The OCPP scholarship pilot last year was the first collaboration between the ACU and Cefas following the signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in May 2022, formalising their partnership on research capacity strengthening activities in the areas of environmental science. The ACU has been appointed to administer the OCPP Scholarships on behalf of the Programme.

The OCPP is delivered by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Applications for OCPP Scholarships Sri Lanka are now open and close on the 9th January 2024.

For the latest information, including application deadlines, eligibility, courses on offer and how to apply, please visit here

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