‘Participating in international programmes builds our staff’s passion and motivation, and this strongly correlates with our students’ success and attendance.' Chaz Talbot, Head of Hospitality

By embedding internationalisation and offering an array of international learning opportunities, City College Plymouth has boosted motivation and achievement while also having a significant impact on the local community.

Serving 12,500 students, City College Plymouth is located in the heart of Plymouth, a city that has low levels of diversity in comparison to the UK average. Some areas in the city are within the top five per cent of the most deprived areas in England, and social mobility remains relatively low. 

Embedding internationalisation 

Embedding internationalisation throughout all areas of learning has been a key part of the college’s strategy for the last 15 years, as it has looked to create greater cultural diversity and awareness amongst a student population living in a predominantly mono-cultural region of the UK. International activities have been embedded throughout all faculties and business support areas across the college. Recruiting overseas students, participating in international programmes and building international partnerships has helped to broaden students’ understanding of other countries and cultures, while also better preparing them for an increasingly globalised workplace.

A host of international learning experiences

Each year, more than 100 students get the opportunity to participate in short- and long-term work experience and training placements overseas, while more than 70 staff members get to experience education systems in countries such as China, Thailand, Malaysia and South Africa first-hand. As well as outgoing mobility, the college hosts students and staff from the European Union and delivers high-level training and vocational programmes for partners in China and South East Asia. The college has links with two South African colleges through a British Council International Skills Partnership project aimed at developing mutual employability programmes. It also works with seven partner colleges across Europe through an Erasmus+ project to improve social enterprise in vocational education.

‘My Swedish experience was fantastic because the people at my placement were friendly, helpful and interested in me as a person. This made me feel valued and the whole experience has given me the confidence to apply for apprenticeships.’ Mature student living with cerebral palsy.

A focus on employability and increasing motivation

Through its array of international programmes, the college is helping learners improve their employment chances by responding to employer demands for soft skills, greater cultural awareness and international experiences. Participating in international projects and placements has also increased the motivation of both staff and students, leading to significantly improved attendance and academic achievement. An impressive example of this is the Advanced Technical Chef Level 3 programme, which achieved 100 per cent attendance in the 2016-17 academic year for the first time ever. The tutor of the course believed this was linked to his increased motivation, which he attributed to carrying out placements in Spain and France. The same student cohort has been nominated for Student of the Year award as a group — the first time this has ever happened.

Sustainable impact

On a wider level, international placements and overseas recruitment generates income for the college, host families and the city of Plymouth as a whole, and the college has seen improved local recruitment for courses featuring international elements. The college’s commitment to embedding internationalisation was recently recognised by the Association of Colleges Beacon Awards where it achieved a Highly Commended award for its International Staff Development programme. Internationalisation has also led to improved relationships with partner universities, cementing further growth and development. 

Significant community impact has been achieved through the college’s participation in the UK-China Partnership Innovation Challenge Fund, an international project that supports the improvement of dementia care in the UK and China and provides training for Chinese and UK students. Through this project, local partners have drawn on their collaborations with partners in China to better support dementia sufferers in the Chinese community in Plymouth. The college has also developed a partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, which has been involved in the delivery of the project.