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University of Gibraltar partnership with FRS offers practical experience for maritime students

Photos by Johnny Bugeja

Maritime students studying at the University of Gibraltar will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with international shipping company FRS thanks to a strategic partnership agreement signed on Tuesday.

Described as a “mutually beneficial partnership”, this includes courses and initiatives such as cadetship placements, sponsorship options, employment opportunities, a Ratings course, STCW training and bespoke operational training.

The University’s maritime students will have the opportunity to gain valuable practical experience through cadetship placements on-board FRS ferries, while also receiving financial support through sponsorship options.

Upon completion of their studies, employment opportunities will also be available for these students, ensuring a smooth transition into the workforce.

FRS is a leading German shipping company which transports passengers, vehicles and cargo.

With more than 150 years of experience, the company operates routes using ferries and fast crafts in Europe, USA and Canada, Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Its fleet ranges from water taxis to modern ferries and catamarans. FRS has focused its efforts on internationalisation, transforming itself from a regional ferry operator to an active business group with branch offices spread throughout Europe, USA and Canada, Africa and the Middle East, offering ferry services for vehicles and passengers, excursions, freight divisions and even regional bus routes.

For the university, the agreement with FRS bolsters its maritime offering and opens up new opportunities both for students and for similar initiatives with industry partners.

For Gibraltar, it adds an important new element to the Rock’s maritime offering.

The University of Gibraltar's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Catherine Bachleda, said: "This partnership goes to the heart of the University's commitment to working with industry to provide quality, industry-relevant education and training, while also contributing to the growth of the maritime industry.”

Ms Bachleda added that she hopes this partnership will provide “brighter futures” for university students as well as FRS professionals.

She added: “From the maritime students’ perspective, this is a huge event and most of them are looking forward to having opportunities on board the FRS fleet of ships.”

“FRS is well established, they are local, as well as international and regional, and what more could a cadet want?”

The University of Gibraltar Maritime Academy will also deliver a Ratings course for FRS employees, which will provide a Certificate in Maritime Studies upon completion.

This vocational course integrates practical training with an industrial sea placement to prepare individuals to work as a merchant vessel’s Watch Rating (Deck & Engine) seafarer. The Academy will also provide FRS crew with STCW training and a range of bespoke operational training courses, including Operational Fire Fighting.

The University Language Centre will also provide a Maritime English Course for all FRS crew, aiming to ensure effective communication and safety on-board.

The Managing Director of FRS, Ronny Moriana Glindemann, said: "We are delighted to partner with the University of Gibraltar Maritime Academy and look forward to providing valuable opportunities for their students and enhancing the skills and knowledge of our employees.”

“This partnership represents a significant milestone for both organisations and we could not be more thrilled about the opportunities that lie ahead.”

“At FRS we have always believed in the power of education and training to transform lives and empower individuals and communities.”

Mr Moriana Glindemann said FRS is excited about this partnership which will help to the next generations to reach their full potential.

This opportunity also helps to “enhance historical bonds” with the people of Gibraltar, he said.

“Being a leader in the Strait of Gibraltar, for us it is a privilege having a Centre of Know How that close by,” Mr Moriana Glindemann said.

“For us the only regret is not having done that 10 to 15 years ago, but we are really looking forward to enhancing this relationship.”

Looking ahead, Mr Morianna Glindemann said this opportunity will enable shipping industry individuals to “think global but train locally”.

Mr Morianna Glindemann said FRS employs 800 individuals to operate across the Strait and with high turnover, there is a “huge potential” for jobs in the future.

Aaron Lopez, Maritime Academy Manager at the University of Gibraltar, said the University requires 12 months of training on board a vessel.

“Now having the opportunity to train on board an FRS vessel, which is a world-renowned, leading company, means that the cadets can go on board as from the middle of June,” Mr Lopez said.

“June is well-known for being a busy time where millions of passengers cross the Strait of Gibraltar, and on top of that there is the already moving cargo.”

“The value and the experience gained by students will be incredible.”

In terms of shore-side opportunities, there are the language courses and also Ratings course.

But students already nearly completing their Maritime Science BSc at the university are being encouraged to apply for various sponsorship and also employment opportunities.

There are also long-term opportunities to bolster Gibraltar’s wider recognition as a maritime hub.

Captain Sukhjit Singh, Head of Maritime Science at the University of Gibraltar, told the Chronicle: “When we say maritime hub, Gibraltar is known for services.”

“But one main component of maritime itself is the training aspect and this was missing.”

“But with the university now offering, and the offerings of the academy, especially targeted at maritime competence building, that gap has now been filled.”

“I see this as a highly impactful event because this is recognition of the university at a level not only within Gibraltar, this is a regional and global recognition that a company such as FRS has put its trust in the university and the academy.”

Mr Singh said that for the university, one of its aims is to have “industry-ready” graduates who are ready to work, but without the practical experience, that is something that would be lacking.

Working with a company such as FRS ensures that students are able to “face the challenges and are work ready” when they graduate, he said.

A reception hosted by FRS was held at Bistro Point following the signing of the agreement.

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