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ESF 1.25: Strategic Educational Pathways Scholarship (STEPS)

Project Cost: €8,982,082
Beneficiary: Directorate for Lifelong Learning
Line Ministry: Ministry for Education and Employment
Start Date: 2008
End Date: 2015

Non Technical Short Summary Of Project

The Strategic Educational Pathways Scholarships (STEPS) scheme offered post-graduate bursaries at Masters and Doctoral level for fields of studies in areas of national priority.

Operational Programme: OPII Empowering People for More Jobs and a Better Quality of Life ESF
Fund: European Social Fund
Operational Objective: To increase student participation in general fields of study at a further or higher level of education.
Priority Axis: PA1 Improving Education and Skills
Focus Area Of Intervention: OPIIPA1 Investing in the Education System
Focus Area of Intervention: OPIIPA1 Addressing skills mismatches
Focus Area of Intervention: OPIIPA1 Research and innovation

Project Objectives

The key objectives of STEPS are to: assist exceptional students to pursue further levels of academic research; encourage more student participation at a postgraduate level of academic research, both locally and internationally; improve the quality and relevance of the education system; reduce skills mismatches particularly within higher value added and expanding economic sectors; support further research in science and technology; and increase the capacity and level of research, innovation and development activity in Malta.

Project Results

The scholarships will support Masters and Doctoral programmes in S&T and non S&T and will address the four focus areas identified in the OPII and the related operational objectives. The scheme could result in over 450 graduates by the end of 2013, assuming a number of students fail to obtain a pass rate or the schemes are undersubscribed.

Project Purpose

The specific objectives of the STEPS programme are as follows:1. boost Malta’s capacity to reach the EU target of 3% of expenditure on R&D by substantially boosting the number of students following Masters and Doctoral degrees and undertake or engage in research activity in specific areas of national priority through scholarship schemes;2. boost the quality of education services by providing persons the chance of high specialisation and be able to participate in the development of better educational services (teaching, administration, new fields of study, etc.) in the future;3. boost the capacity of educational services by assisting more people to specialise particularly in those areas where too few or no specialist teaching, support or administrative staff exist today;4. provide specific economic sectors with highly specialised expertise which may be critical for the development of entirely new areas of economic activity or for the further expansion/development of high growth segments;5. provide Malta with a critical mass of researchers in Science and Technology for further development of national R&D and innovation activity. All the above objectives are achieved by helping targeted scholars with excellent academic merit on the basis of their qualifications, experience and research proposals, to continue studying at a higher level. Finally, the targeted areas of priority (education entities or different economic sectors), benefit on graduation of such scholars as these become engaged in the various occupations which require this expertise and specialist research activity.