The Blue Economy can be defined as activities related to oceans, seas and coasts for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs. It encompasses a wide range of interlinked established and emerging sectors and is the subject of numerous strategic policy and operational initiatives at local, regional, national and international levels. The EU Blue Economy Report 2020 (EU Commission, 2020) provides an overview of the EU Blue Economy. With a turnover of €750 billion in 2018, the EU blue economy employs ~5 million people. Many EU partners face significant challenges in sectors such as coastal and marine tourism, fisheries, aquaculture and marine food as a result of immediate and medium-term consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. That said, the scale and diversity of the sector also presents a considerable opportunity to respond to immediate and longer-term societal challenges around climate change, sustainability, food security, renewable energy and the UK’s departure from the EU.
In response, the University of Ghent and the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology have joined forces and developed one of the few programs specifically aimed at the Blue Economy: Postgraduate Studies in Blue Resources for the Blue Economy. This course is aimed at very diverse profiles, from engineers to people with a financial or legal background. Everyone who has obtained a Master’s degree and is interested in pursuing a career in the Blue Economy can enroll in this postgraduate course. People already active in the field and looking to expand their knowledge and skills are also eligible. In addition, this program offers a very flexible trajectory with a focus on online learning and blended working formats. During the course, contact with the industry is a key element. Students will have the opportunity to come into contact with relevant stakeholders within the industry whilst following workplace-based training. This postgraduate course aims to offer the students all the necessary tools needed to fully prepare for the rapidly evolving demands of the blue economy sector.
The postgraduate program is structured around the following main components:
All students entering the program will get a shared component dealing with the Blue Economy containing 2 courses.
Emerging issues in the Blue Economy – 3 ECTS: this course will give a broad overview and insights in the different sectors of the Blue Economy in an international context. This course will be organized in a blended way with an on-site opening event in Ostend, Belgium (10-14 January 2022) and a digital group project.
Skills and practices in Blue entrepreneurship – 6 ECTS: this online course will introduce students in several skills which are relevant for a Blue entrepreneurial mindset. This set course will be an essential preparation for the next section of the program.
In the second part of the program students will on an individual basis get familiar to the roles and professions in the Blue BioEconomy. They will do this via an internship and a follow-up interaction in which they share and evaluate the experiences in a broader context. Components in this module are:
Research or business-internship in the Blue Economy – 20 ECTS: individual internship (in Belgium, Ireland or other country of choice) in a company active in and relevant for the Blue (Bio)Economy. During this internship students will define the skills they wish to learn in close collaboration with the internship site and via a close monitoring system evaluate whether or not they gained this knowledge. People already active in the marine industry also have the option to undertake their internship at their current employer - in agreement with the supervisor and mentor - and engage in an interesting research question/project.
The Blue Economy in Practice – 3 ECTS: this course follows up on the internship and will focus on (1) exchanging the experiences with peers, (2) identify challenges and weaknesses in the internship setting and (3) develop ideas for future developments, collaborations, improvements. This course consists of an on-site closing event in Galway, Ireland (5-8 September 2022).
Transferable skills for the Blue Economy – 6 ECTS: The third part of the study program allows students to study one or more additional courses from a combined list available from UGent and GMIT. As students will have a diverse background the additional training needs may largely differ. Via an individual skills-gaps analysis will it be possible to identify the individual skills gaps and propose courses which may answer these needs. At least 6 ECTS of courses in total should be taken in this module.