Abu Dhabi: Food safety inspectors can now benefit from a full scholarship that will allow them to enhance their skills by pursuing an advanced degree in food safety at the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), senior officials announced at a conference yesterday.

The scholarship for the Bachelor of Science in Food Safety programme, which is part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the HCT, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) and the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), will provide enhanced specialisations for the current 30 Emirati recipients.

“Adec is responsible for granting outstanding students scholarships to provide them with world class educational opportunities, as well as all types of support needed to complete their studies. Introducing new disciplines will contribute to meeting job market needs through providing [a] qualified national work force,” Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Adec director-general, said.

To be accepted, food safety inspectors must provide documentation that they completed three years of study, in addition to a foundation year, and approximately three years of work.

Additionally, they must meet the minimum requirements in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination and show a commitment to continue working with the ADFCA after graduation. Adec will monitor the students and support them during their entire period of study.

“We have been offering this degree for 15 years… there has been steady demand for this field as well as [a] demand to increase the qualifications of food inspectors to meet international food safety requirements,” Dr Kathleen Meehan, chair of the Health Sciences department at the HCT, said.

As part of the degree programme, students have to choose a research project and provide an analysis as well as undertake specialisations in the fields of Food Legislation, Food Chemistry and Components, Food Microbiology, Current Issues in Food Science and Trade, and Safety and Quality System Authority.

Since its launch in 1997, there have been 151 graduates in this field, including those with specialisations such as Food Inspection, Environmental Health and Food Laboratories.

“Given that our students, who are all male UAE Nationals, are full time employees, the courses take place in the late afternoon… they are encouraged to choose a food-related issue, do an in-depth research and then present their findings… This programme therefore allows them to hone their skills and be on par with international standards,” Dr Meehan said.