With a 30-year history of hosting international students and creating overseas relationships, Boston College is helping to build positive cultural associations amongst its student population and to further strengthen links with the local community.

Government-funded Boston College provides further education to 1,600 full-time and 6,000 part-time learners from in and around the market town of Boston, on the east coast of England. With a thriving dock, Boston has a long history of welcoming visitors from different parts of the world, continuing up to today with the recent influx of eastern European migration, which has resulted in 20 per cent of the population being made up of migrant workers and their families. 

A truly international learning environment

Each year, Boston College recruits around 50 international students from countries across the world who come to study full-time programmes such as A Levels and Access to University. The college also runs a summer school for more than 200 Vietnamese, Italian and French learners. Alongside the very tangible financial benefits the college gains from its international recruitment programme, the college’s local students also benefit from daily interactions with international peers. International learners lead on a range of cultural events throughout the year, including Brazil Day and Chinese New Year, inspiring local learners to travel, to learn languages and to gain a greater understanding of the wider world. Many of the college’s international students also go out into local schools to offer cultural demonstrations to young learners or visit local businesses and community groups. 

Building mutually beneficial partnerships

The college has successfully built and nurtured a range of international partnerships, and is always seeking to engage with institutions and potential partners from other countries. It recently worked with the organisers of a Brazilian Ministry of Tourism sponsored programme to host a group of students from Brazil, giving the college’s local learners the opportunity to learn side-by-side with the Brazilian students. Other international partnerships have seen the college deliver training for the Saudi Royal Air Force and host skills delegations from Mexico City and China. It has also supported staff and learners to visit the European Parliament.

The challenges of internationalisation

‘As well as the many benefits of international activities, there can also be considerable challenges that colleges need to keep in mind, such as language barriers and  visa rules that can sometimes make it difficult to recruit international learners. Working to overcome these challenges, however, is definitely worth it.’ Paul Collins, Director of Business Development