Friday 01 August 2014


Armagh Observatory is strengthening its global links thanks to an international exchange scheme. 

Physics student, Floor VanRiggelen from the Netherlands, will be spending the summer at the research institute through the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) Programme managed by the British Council. 

Over the course of a six-week placement, Floor will be concentrating on discovering open star clusters. 

This is the tenth year the Armagh Observatory has taken part in the global student exchange programme.

Director of the Armagh Observatory, Professor Mark Bailey MBE, said: “IAESTE students have consistently been highly motivated individuals and it’s amazing what they can achieve in a six week period.  

“The programme brings many benefits to both international and local students. For every international trainee that comes here, a Northern Ireland student is offered a place in another host country. This gives them hands-on experience with real projects, within a structured, technical environment and opens their eyes to the working world.

“Advantages to employers are sometimes less tangible. Here at the observatory we have had 10 IAESTE students through our doors, and they have come from all over the globe – including places such as China, Japan, Poland …and even Ireland. They have covered topics including physics, Galactic astronomy and the solar system, and helped developed research, new techniques and pilot projects.

“On a larger scale, students take away a greater understanding of Northern Ireland, put us on the map and promote our employers and work to the world. There’s always been a very positive interaction between the students, the staff and the wider community.”

Floor is among 39 international students who will work in Northern Ireland through IAESTE this summer, while 26 students from Northern Ireland will complete work placements in 15 countries worldwide.  The IAESTE programme offers students in technical degrees with paid, course-related training abroad and employers with highly skilled, highly motivated international trainees. 

David Alderdice, British Council Director in Northern Ireland, said: “International business connections and partnerships are vital for economic success and growth. Exchange programmes like IAESTE facilitate these connections by bringing in young future business leaders from around the world for placements with local employers and send out our future business leaders into the international marketplace to gain international experience and build partnerships for success.”

The students were recently welcomed to Northern Ireland by Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry at a special reception at the Harbour Commissioner’s Office in Belfast. 

He said: “I am pleased these students have decided to come to Northern Ireland to gain technical experience. Students from previous years have recounted their positive experiences of Northern Ireland, and I hope that the knowledge and experience gained will prove invaluable for future careers and the exchange of ideas.” 

The IAESTE programme is supported by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) in conjunction with local Universities and the British Council. Among the other local companies who have taken students this year are CDE Ireland Ltd, Kainos, SAP, Michelin and Translink.

For more information on IAESTE visit or for details on opportunities available through the British Council visit or email


Notes to Editor

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About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We work in over 100 countries worldwide to build engagement and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people. We work in the arts, education, English, science, sport and governance and last year we engaged face to face with 18.4 million people and reached 652 million. We are a non-political organisation which operates at arm’s length from government. Our total turnover in 2009/10 was £705 million, of which our grant-in-aid from the British government was £211 million. For every £1 of government grant we receive, we earn £2.50 from other sources. For more information, please visit: