Over 500 young people across Northern Ireland preparing for university have been inquiring about Armed Forces sponsorship through higher education.

Recruiters for the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army say they have been highly impressed by the standard of education and the variety of degrees the potential students are looking at.

Warrant Officer Nigel Kane of the Royal Navy said there has been a steady stream of students making enquiries regarding what bursaries are available.With sponsorship opportunities of up to £27,500 for engineering students and other undergraduate bursaries amounting £1,500 a year, the Royal Navy recognises the need to invest in the education of our Northern Irish students whilst continuing to provide excellent career opportunities,” he said.

The Army also grants up to 100 scholarships a year of £3,000.  From 2015, the award of an Army Scholarship will also include the provisional award of an Army Undergraduate Bursary (with 150 available for up to £7,000).

Northern Ireland’s Brigadier Ralph Wooddisse, Commander of 38 (Irish) Brigade says the reshaping of Defence Forces means huge opportunities. “The army is changing in terms of size and make-up as well as format and skill sets as we look to the challenges that are going to lie ahead,” he said.

“The regular army strength of 82,000 will constantly require a flow of recruits coming up through the ranks and the increased strength of UK reserves as well as its integration within the overall force will require young men and women of high calibre and in all ranks, “he added.

“In Northern Ireland we have strong support across the 2,000 men and women who are committed to the reserves, we have good and ever developing relationships with employers. We have been able to consistently show how regulars and reserves from Northern Ireland rightly deserve the credit they have earned on deployments around the world.”