Belfast student wins worldwide cyber security scholarship competition

  • Photo: Robert O’Brien, CEO MetaCompliance, Cliodhna McDonald, Maria Curran, Employer Engagement Manager Ulster University

    An Ulster University student has won a scholarship prize worth £1,000 from global cyber security firm, MetaCompliance.

    Law student, Cliodhna McDonald scooped the prize ahead off stiff competition from students in over 20 competing universities across the world.

    MetaCompliance launched the scholarship contest to promote a greater awareness of cyber security and assist students with their higher education fees. To enter the scholarship contest, students were asked to write an essay on what they thought were the top three cyber security threats facing Generation Z.

    “I am so incredibly grateful to MetaCompliance for this scholarship, it’s an honour to have been selected for such a prestigious award," said Cliodhna commenting on her award win. "Cybercrime has been one of the most fascinating subjects to study and I am so lucky to have had my interest rewarded in this way.

    "This interest in cyber security was founded by my fantastic lecturer Dr. Ruth McAlister at Ulster University, and I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank her for her enthusiasm and expertise. 

    “Given the exponential increase in technology, cyber security is one of the most pressing issues currently facing our generation. I cannot stress enough the importance of spreading awareness and helping to prevent these crimes, and I am thankful to MetaCompliance for giving me this platform to do so."

    MetaCompliance CEO, Robert O’Brien, presented Cliodhna with her prize and commented on the strength of her winning entry: “Northern Ireland’s education system is recognised as one of the best in the world, so we were thrilled to see a student from the Ulster University win the prize. It’s clear that the University had covered cyber security in their syllabus.

    “Cliodhna was competing against students from some of the top universities across Europe and the US, but her entry stood out as she demonstrated a clear understanding of the subject matter and accurately conveyed the real and pressing threats that her generation is facing.

    “The feedback from the scholarship program was extremely interesting and a recurring theme in essays from students across the world was a lack of personal cyber security awareness and a general apathy to the seriousness of this threat.

    “This highlights the importance of raising awareness in this particular age group and we hope the scholarship program has encouraged students to think more about how they can improve cyber security practices in their day to day lives.”

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    Maria Curran, Employer Engagement Manager at Ulster University added: “At Ulster University we place student employability and business engagement at the heart of our activities to ensure that our students are equipped with the knowledge, skills and confidence to excel in key industry sectors.

    “Our Employability & Careers department worked closely with MetaCompliance to promote this competition to our students and it is excellent news for Cliodhna to be recognised for her accomplishment. This award is a testament to her hard work and gives her extra confidence to distinguish herself from her peers and reach higher goals in her career.”

    MetaCompliance has been developing software and content for the cyber security and Compliance market since 2005 and the company has quickly become one of the world’s leading providers of cyber security and Compliance software. 

    To support its continued growth, the company recently announced that it is creating over 70 new jobs as part of a £4.5 million global expansion plan.

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