A Belfast university hopes to secure Northern Ireland’s status as a global cybersecurity hub by offering 40 full scholarships worth over half a million pounds.

Queen’s University Belfast will offer the scholarships for its specialist Applied Cyber Security MSc programme.

The new opportunities are aimed at recent graduates and those already in employment who are interested in changing career to work in cyber security.

The scholarships will be carried out through a syllabus informed by the research undertaken at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), the UK’s largest cyber security research centre.

Northern Ireland’s cybersecurity sector is estimated to provide over £70m in annual salaries and has secured a number of tech companies in recent years including Californian cybersecurity firm Imperva, as well as Anomali, Black Duck Software, Rapid7 and Proofpoint.

“The launch of the 40 scholarships for the Applied Cyber Security MSc at Queen’s comes at an apt time for one of the fastest-growing sectors in Northern Ireland and in the world,” said Professor Philip Hanna, Director of Education at the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Queen’s University Belfast.

“Thirst for cyber security talent is strong and will intensify further in the future, so initiatives of this nature are essential to maintain the sector’s vibrancy.

“Cyber security is exciting, fast paced and extremely rewarding and these scholarships will widen its accessibility.”

Dr Karen Rafferty, Head of School, School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Queen’s University Belfast, added: “This is a great example of academia flexing to meet the demands of industry.

“At Queen’s we’re striving to play our part as a critical pillar in the future of the Northern Ireland economy and these scholarships do just that.

“Cyber security is a sector with huge growth potential in the coming years and Queen’s students will be at the centre of that journey.”