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A University of Ulster degree tailored to specialist needs in financial services has been given a stamp of approval by First Derivatives plc, a leading Northern Ireland software and consultancy provider to global financial institutions.

Academics say the innovative BSc Financial Engineering course is “a classic mix of technology and business skills” that are required by firms offering specialised products and consultancy to worldwide capital markets.

A significant number of graduate career opportunities exist in the global financial sector for people with key skills in Computer Science and Financial Modelling/Mathematics.  Importantly, and as evidenced by recent Invest Northern Ireland announcements, many of these vacancies exist within Northern Ireland.

First Derivatives, which last month announced a major expansion plan at its Newry headquarters, has been so impressed with the new degree’s focused skills provision that closer involvement in the course’s development may be on the cards.

Following meetings that were facilitated by Professor Gerard Parr, Professor of Telecommunications at the University of Ulster, First Derivatives has just announced it will sponsor a number of prizes for students who excel in aspects of the programme and discussions are under way on possible further collaboration with the course.

That could open up opportunities for student industrial placements, student projects, course sponsorship and job opportunities for graduates of the Financial Engineering programme.

Financial Engineering embodies three strands:  Software development, Mathematics and Modelling, and Finance and securities.  The degree equips graduates with knowledge to assess financial risk associated with a range of financial instruments.

Martin McKinney, Head of the School of Computing and Information Engineering at the Coleraine campus, said:  “This is a niche undergraduate course that is directly relevant to the needs of industry and the local economy.

“In the context of Northern Ireland, there are approximately one thousand graduate job opportunities and there is a real need to develop University courses that respond directly to the specialist skills required by the industry going forward.

“We are particularly encouraged by the efforts of Invest Northern Ireland to grow this sector as evidenced by the continued success and expansion of local companies such as First Derivatives.”

The course blends the skills of Ulster’s School of Computing & Information Engineering and the Department of Business, Retail & Financial Services and has been devised following extensive discussions with representatives from InvestNI, local industry and other academic institutions.

Significantly, its content demonstrates the importance and usefulness of Mathematics as an A-level subject.  Such analytical skills are important to the Northern Ireland economy.

Shane Mulholland, Business Development Manager at First Derivatives in Newry stated: “It is important that we become more closely involved with Universities such as Ulster in identifying and advising them of the skills we require to grow our business.

“The blend of topics on this course is very closely aligned to our existing and future skills needs.  As such, we are delighted to be able to reward excellence within the course through these student prizes.

“Indeed, we see this as the first step in becoming more closely involved in the development and promotion of this course for our mutual benefit.”
Further details on the course can be found at:-

Or contact Course Director, Dr Michaela Black, Tel: +44 28 70123071: Email –
Note to Editors

First Derivatives is a leading provider of software and consulting services to global investment banks and hedge funds

In March 2011 it announced an expansion project, part-funded by an Invest Northern Ireland commitment of £4.3million, which will create 359 high quality jobs over three years.