Support in the right course choices means students will keep returning

ISLANDER Sorrel Robertson is about to begin her second year at Exeter University where she is studying Ancient History and History 

IF there’s one thing certain about being a Falkland Island student studying abroad it’s that we’re lucky. 

Unlike the majority of University and boarding students we do not have to face the trials of paying student debt for a large part of our working lives, and I am certainly grateful for the opportunity to study what I am interested in, despite living half-way across the world from it all. 

However, while there are plenty of good things that the Government does for us, there are also things that could  be improved. 

What took me by the surprise the most when I went abroad was the lack of interest on FIG’s part in our plans for the future. 

We did receive a lot of support from those on the Education Board on coping with living abroad, and we also had people visit the College to ask how our studies and life in boarding was going. 

But although FIG is investing thousands of pounds on students to study every year, there is little done to encourage them to move back to the Islands once they have completed their studies. 

This does not mean we should limit the degree choices that can be taken  up by young people to ensure they are studying something applicable to the Islands, but we should show students what is available and where there are gaps in the market when they are in the position to study for that opportunity. 

 One example that springs to mind is the need for local teachers. 

This has been an issue for years and will continue to be an issue if we do not encourage more young Islanders to do a PGCE. 

What the government should be doing is making those undertaking A levels and Undergraduate degrees aware that there is a need for say, one Maths teacher and a History teacher, and suggest that someone study accordingly.

Speaking to local D&T teacher Sean Moffat, he agreed that this was assistance that he had missed out on while away studying. 

Mr Moffat said he had approached the Government and mentioned that he was going to do his PGCE. 

He suggested setting up a bond between them so that eventually he could apply for a teaching position in the Islands, providing the Government with a long-standing, qualified, local teacher. 

However, the young student was given no guarantee or assurances. As a result, Mr Moffat said he was almost deterred from carrying on with his plans due to the lack of prospects in the Islands. 

Luckily he did not, and he has gone on to become a well-respected and well-liked member of the FICS faculty. 

 In order to aid a process of encouraging Falklands careers it would be necessary for the Government to be aware of, not just what courses students are studying, but what their own plans are for their future. 

In the past, college applicants had to be interviewed by members of the Education Department so that FIG knew what every college student was planning to do. 
However, that has stopped in recent years. 

The Falkland Islands Devlopment Corporation (FIDC) however has decided to do just that with their Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES). The scheme contains a Youth Register and students record what they are studying and their career plans. 

As a result, FIDC can target those that they know are interested in business for possible employment opportunities, but predominantly to encourage those young people to think about careers in business. 

Although it is a process that will have mainly medium to long-term effects, FIDC’s Michael Betts said one person on the Youth Register has already sought business advice from the company. 

A register like that for the Education Department could be invaluable as it would give the establishment a clear idea of who was planning to return to the Islands and use their degree, and with a little forward thinking a plan could be made to advise students on what degrees and professions were going to be sought after in the Islands in five years time.

What students and the Falklands need is pro-activity from government sectors and private businesses involving guiding those who are a little lost. 

This can be done by targeting students who are about to go to university; motivated, enthusiastic college graduates who, if they take up the right education path would be able to return and work in the Islands, rather than spending three years studying a degree that prevents them from doing so on completion.