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Applications now open for bursaries from Pentland wind farm fund

By Alan Hendry

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Eilidh Coll (left), from Foundation Scotland, and Anders Galsgaard, of Copenhagen Offshore Partners, with bursary recipient Heather McKay in June 2022.
Eilidh Coll (left), from Foundation Scotland, and Anders Galsgaard, of Copenhagen Offshore Partners, with bursary recipient Heather McKay in June 2022.

Applications for bursaries from a planned wind farm off the north coast of Caithness have opened for 2023.

The Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm (PFOWF) Education and Training Fund provides school leavers from Thurso and Farr high schools with financial support as they pursue their studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

The fund is administered through independent grant-making charity Foundation Scotland, with a closing date of March 31for this year's applications.

Project director Richard Copeland said: “Moving to college or university is a transformational experience as young people traverse new challenges for the first time. We’re proud to announce the second year of the project’s education and training fund, providing vital support as they navigate this transition.

“The initiative demonstrates our commitment to supporting young people in the area as they progress their studies targeting careers in STEM-related industries.

"Inspiring the younger generation to continue their education is crucial to ensuring Scotland’s future STEM skills needs are met, and equipping students with the support they need to do this confidently is of utmost importance.”

Last year, three students each received £1000 to support them with their first year of university.

Having left Farr High, Heather McKay is studying mechanical engineering at the University of Glasgow.

She said: “I’ve found the bursary to be a huge help so far – just having that extra bit of money has meant I can easily attend social events within the university without having to worry about the cost. I also used the bursary to pay my fees to join sports associations and individual sports clubs.”

Rachel May left Thurso High, going on to study accounting and finance at the University of Glasgow.

She said: “In my degree, for the first semester, I’ve completed three modules and received straight As in all required exams. The bursary has allowed me to focus on my time studying by not stressing over finances.

"It has also allowed me to sign up for opportunities within the university and cut back my work hours, giving me more time to study.”

Also from Thurso High, Fern Mackay is studying a Master of Physiotherapy at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh.

She found the PFOWF bursary particularly helpful in her first few months away from home.

“Living so far away means it’s not easy to return home at weekends, so most of my time has been spent in Edinburgh," she said.

"With the rising cost of living, this grant has allowed me to enjoy my time by helping with my food and accommodation bills.”

Applications for the 2023 bursaries are welcome from students at Thurso High School and Farr High School who wish to continue to further or higher education, or other forms of training or apprenticeships with a focus on STEM subjects this year.

Guidance notes and information on how to apply can be seen on the Foundation Scotland website.

The 100MW wind farm is being developed by Highland Wind Limited, which is majority owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners through one of its funds. Seven turbines up to 300m high to their blade tips will be built around 7.5km offshore from Dounreay.

Recently, the Highland Council’s North Planning committee raised no objection to the project’s offshore consent application as part of Marine Scotland’s consultation process. The project’s onshore application will be heard by Councillors in January 2023.

The project’s education and training fund will be complemented by a community benefit fund to support local "climate-smart" initiatives, once the wind farm is operational.

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