230 UTech, Jamaica Students Awarded GOJ STEM Scholarships

Dr. The Hon. Nigel Clarke (2nd right), Minister of Finance and the Public Service leads the happy smiles and gestures at the STEM backdrop mounted at the handover ceremony for Government of Jamaica STEM scholarships to students of the University of Technology, Jamaica on Thursday, September 21, 2023 at the University's Papine Campus.  Joining in the happy moment (from left) are  Dante Shirley, STEM Scholarship recipient, Hon. Marsha Smith, State Minister, Ministry of Education,  Jahmelia Campbell, STEM scholarship recipient,  Ms. Nickeisha Walsh, Executive Director, Students' Loan Bureau and Dr. Kevin Brown, President, University of Technology, Jamaica.

The first cohort of 230 new students of the University of Technology, Jamaica’s Faculty of Engineering and Computing (FENC) who were selected as the first of 1,000 students to receive the Government of Jamaica’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Scholarship, were recognized at a special handover ceremony on Thursday, September 21, 2023, at the University’s Papine Campus.

The recipients who began studies at the start of the new 2023-2024 academic year, will benefit from fully funded tuition for the duration of their respective course of study from among the 13 STEM disciplines offered by the Faculty’s School of Engineering and the School of Computing and Information Technology.

The Government’s 1000 STEM scholarships being provided at a cost of $2.4 B over the next five years, is part of a collaborative effort with UTech, Jamaica through the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB), set to transform Jamaica’s human capacity development to take advantage of the global knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) industry.

Speaking at the handover ceremony Dr. The Hon. Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance and the Public Service noted that, “this is the beginning of the fulfillment of a vision to transform the landscape of Jamaica.” Minister Clarke observed that the STEM scholarships are advantageous not only to the students but also to Jamaica, underscoring that “development is fueled by people and the kind of development that we see on the horizon will require Jamaica to upgrade its cadre of technical skill and engineering talent.”

Sharing his vision to equip Jamaicans to foster technological advancements and pioneer innovative solutions to problems, the Minister sated that, “we are going to need to put the whole paradigm aside and enter a new phase of our development where we turn out thousands of graduates in engineering subjects, in technology subjects, in science, if we are to attain our development vision.”

Dr. Clarke highlighted that Jamaica needs to be strategic as the country has finite resources. “You can see Jamaica is at a critical stage in our development, but the world is also at a fascinating and critical stage of evolution of life on earth,” he noted, adding that “technology will advance and pave the way for unprecedented opportunities within artificial intelligence and robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology creating a new world.”   Continuing, Dr. Clarke asserted that “Jamaica cannot be left behind in this transformation.,” adding that the country needs to ensure that “opportunities for development remain right here in Jamaica... to transform the nature of that employment from what it is today, to higher earning potential employment, ” while emphasizing that “if we can have those industries here, it would boost our average income in Jamaica.”

Congratulating the students, Dr. Clarke remarked that, “we believe in you, we believe in UTech, that you can make it happen. All we have to do is to produce sufficient quantities of science, technology and engineering talent, and the rest will follow,” the Minister said to applause from the large gathering of scholarship recipients, their parents, and members of leadership from the three partnering institutions in attendance.    He further encouraged students, “we are investing in you with the provision of full tuition scholarships and the pursuit of your STEM education here at UTech so that you can realize your God given potential and in so doing contribute to the development of your country.... and we have every confidence that the future that you represent will be better than Jamaica is today.”

Dr. Kevin Brown, President, University of Technology, Jamaica in his remarks, congratulated the scholarship recipients and urged students to focus on completing their studies, reminding them that the scholarships are funded by taxpayers of the country who are relying on them to make good use of the tremendous opportunity.  “Your successful completion of the programme will represent your thanks and gratitude to the Government of Jamaica and the people of Jamaica, because the scholarships are being funded by taxpayers’ money,” Dr. Brown stated, adding   “You have a duty, I believe, to your country and all the people who are contributing towards these scholarships, to do well.”

Affirming that “the government of Jamaica came to the right place,” to provide 1000 STEM scholarships over the next five years,  Dr. Brown expressed thanks to the Government of Jamaica through its Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and the  SLB, noting that, “today we move towards another step of realizing the objective to strengthen human capacity development in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the aim is to have a workforce that is ready for the future, which is technology based.”  He added that UTech, Jamaica is aligned with the government’s mission in prioritizing STEM education, to take advantage of the workforce needs for the current and emerging KPO industries.  

“At UTech, Jamaica we are proud of the well-known reputation of producing graduates who ‘hit the ground running,’ and are industry-ready to immediately add value to the development of organizations anywhere in the world. We have been doing this for the 65 years and we have been graduating over 60,000 students who have all made a positive impact, nationally, regionally and across the globe,” Dr. Brown noted, while sharing his own experience of benefiting from a scholarship that enabled him to complete his Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at UTech, Jamaica before moving on to further studies in the UK and a successful career in aerospace engineering at Rolls Royce.

Ms. Nickeisha Walsh, Executive Director, SLB in her presentation shared that investing in the development of students is the key to the resilience of our country. She noted that the SLB also has a STEM programme where the interest rate for that loan is just 6% for applicants who did not qualify for the STEM KPO scholarship.  She further stated that, “with initiatives and collaborations such as this, we can be rest assured our nation's youth are in good hands” as STEM will play an integral role in, “preparing Jamaicans for high demand careers and to compete globally.”

STEM Scholarship recipients Jahmelia Campbell (left), who is pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering with a major in Chemical Engineering and Dantae Shirley who is pursuing studies in Computer Science express appreciation on behalf of the first cohort of 230 STEM scholarship awardees during the handover ceremony held Thursday, September 22, 2023 at the Shared Facilities Building, UTech, Jamaica Papine Campus.

Jahmelia Campbell (left), STEM recipient pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering with a major in Chemical Engineering shared that, “the moment my love for Chemical Engineering was recognized, so was my love for UTech.” She expressed gratitude for the opportunity that the scholarship will provide her “to develop systems and technologies while contributing to Jamaica’s sustainable and human development growth” and which will also fulfil her aspiration to “ proudly call myself a woman in STEM.”

Meanwhile Dantae Shirley (right), STEM recipient pursuing studies in Computer Science, stated “this scholarship is not just a financial aid but a beacon of hope for students like me who aspire to make significant contributions in this field of engineering and computer science.”


Contact: Michelle Beckford (Mrs.)
Corporate Communications Manager
University of Technology, Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 970- 5299
Email: mbeckford@utech.edu.jm