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Students from Northern Ireland are now being given the same chances at University entry as those in Scotland and England as Interactive University (IU), the global e-learning specialist, has launched a pilot project for Heriot-Watt SCHOLAR, the world’s largest e-learning programme into Northern Ireland. The programme has been rolled out, just several months after it announced its launch into England and India.

Originally developed by Heriot-Watt University for Higher Grade Scottish science and maths qualifications, SCHOLAR is delivered by Interactive University and has 60,000 users in Scottish schools alone with 100% take-up by the Scottish authorities. SCHOLAR now incorporates A2 and AS levels for English, Northern Irish and International students and delivers some 4.5 million learning hours annually.

The successful pilot, in conjunction with The Northern Ireland eLearning Partnership, offers four schools the chance to sample Computing, Physics and Chemistry courses. Limavady Grammar School, Antrim Grammar School, St Columb’s College and Foyle and Londonderry College all sampled SCHOLAR and the students’ positive feedback of the programme has led to the launch of the e-learning initiative throughout the region.

This project builds on the long-standing and close links between schools in Northern Ireland and Heriot-Watt University, which is popular for courses in science, engineering and business management. Nearly 500 students from throughout Northern Ireland are currently studying at Heriot-Watt.

David Farquhar, Chief Operating Officer of Interactive University commented, “IU wish to see as many Northern Irish students as possible having access to the benefits that SCHOLAR provides. Developed in tune with exam syllabi, both A Level and Higher students realise SCHOLAR is far more than a revision tool. With post-16 students in Northern Ireland competing for the same University places as English and Scottish students, they deserve to have the same resources.”

Richard Wallace, eLearning Associate at The Northern Ireland eLearning Partnership said, ”SCHOLAR is one of the most exciting projects we have ever been involved in. There’s real buy-in from the four schools and 14 teachers involved and all of them have commented on how positive the programme is and how amazingly well the students have responded.”

SCHOLAR has an impressive portfolio, currently available in every school in Scotland from a standing start in 1999 and recently began its overseas presence when it was made widely available to students throughout Hong Kong during the SARS outbreak. As well as the recent Indian launch throughout ten schools in Delhi, it will be available in five colleges in Mainland China from September.

Recent statistics from a three-year evaluation of SCHOLAR amongst school pupils show that the programme has a 75% acceptance rating by teachers and that over 90% of students said they would recommend the programme to a friend. Perhaps the most surprising statistic is that a peak usage time for SCHOLAR students in the UK competes directly with prime-time television, between the hours of 7pm and 9pm Monday to Thursday. Feedback has shown that parents believe using SCHOLAR to support homework and revision actually contributes to improvements in exam grades and improves chances of University entry.

Ends 18th July 2004

For further information, please contact:

Great Circle Communications Limited 0131 2254646
Beverley Kirk 07968 777097 or 07977 777097

Interactive University
David Farquhar, Chief Operating Officer
0131 317 4000

Notes to editors:

About the Interactive University
Interactive University is a market-led organisation specialising in the development and delivery of accredited distributed learning programmes within the global post compulsory education sector. The university’s primary objective is to become Scotland’s centre of excellence in e-learning and the leading source of e-learning products, services and technology.

SCHOLAR is a programme of Heriot-Watt University initiated in 1998 to develop extremely high quality interactive materials for delivery over the internet. It was developed in partnership with secondary schools and further education colleges. According to Heriot-Watt Professor Phillip John, Chair of the SCHOLAR Forum the success in Scotland is not only due to the quality of the materials but the associated professional development programme designed for classroom teachers. SCHOLAR is published and distributed by the Interactive University on behalf of Heriot-Watt.

About Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University is a leading provider in science, engineering and business education with courses designed for business, industry and the professions. The University has wide experience of international degree programmes and supported e-learning, with currently more than 10,000 students studying in 130 countries worldwide. Overseas programmes include the distance learning MBA, one of the largest and most popular in the world.

About The Northern Ireland eLearning Partnership (NIeL)
The Northern Ireland eLearning (NIeL) Partnership was set up by the Education Technology Strategy Management Group (ET SMG) to coordinate and advance development in elearning (online teaching and learning) for the school service in Northern Ireland. The partners, public and private, are those who are actively engaged in the advancement of elearning in Northern Ireland. The remit of the Northern Ireland eLearning Partnership Advisory Board is:
· To provide advocacy for elearning and to develop capacity for elearning in the communities which they represent
· To represent the interests of the partners’ communities in elearning
· To work collaboratively to ensure that elearning meets the needs of the schools sector
· To guide the work of the Partnership as expressed in the statement of aims and intended outcomes of the Partnership
· To ensure that the work of the Partnership identifies and promotes the highest standards in elearning

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Great Circle Communications in the following categories: Education & Human Resources, Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit