‘Giving our students a global dimension to their education is more important than ever.’ John Widdowson, Principal and Chief Executive

With a strong commitment to offering European mobility opportunities to learners and welcoming international students to its own campus, New College Durham has brought a new dimension to learning, boosting motivation, increasing cultural awareness and improving personal development.

New College Durham offers a mix of vocational, A Level, apprenticeship and higher education programmes. The local area has been identified as having one of the lowest rates of higher education participation in the country. But while overall participation of 16-18 year olds in learning is increasing, participation amongst young people in vulnerable categories is still significantly low.

A commitment to mobility

The college’s European Policy Statement confirms that it is committed to promoting and supporting staff and student mobility, that it seeks to embed the European dimension within its vocational curriculum, and that it recognises the contribution academic mobility can make to economic wellbeing and mutual understanding. Within this framework, the college uses Erasmus+ to provide international work placement opportunities to its higher education students. This is an invaluable opportunity for UK students who may have never travelled abroad before to develop their employability skills and experience life in other countries. The college also welcomes students from across Europe as an Erasmus+ host organisation, and all incoming students participate in existing classes alongside their UK counterparts.

‘Giving our students a global dimension to their education is more important than ever. For some students and staff, that will mean taking part in an overseas study visit or exchange programme. For others, it may be exploring international aspects of the curriculum or working alongside young people from other countries and cultures, gaining an insight into lives very different to theirs.’ John Widdowson, Principal and Chief Executive 

Bringing a new dimension to learning

International students continue to have a positive impact on staff and students by bringing an extra dimension to the learning environment. Having international and UK students working side-by-side in lessons enhances classroom dynamics and broadens the cultural awareness of both staff and learners. International students offer different ideas and perspectives, and they allow UK students and staff to experience new ways of learning and contributing to discussions inside the classroom. Visiting students also motivate local learners to become more involved in activities and help them realise they could also have an opportunity to study or work abroad in the future.

Developing partnerships

The college has a number of long-standing partnerships with European institutions, through which it attracts students to study on its programmes and has grown the college’s international alumni network. The partnership with one Norwegian institution sees groups of Norwegian learners visit each year to participate in the college’s full-time A Level programmes. The college has also worked to build partnership links with institutions in China, and since participating in the British Council’s UK/China Leadership Exchange Programme, the college’s Principal has been very active in championing enhanced links with Chinese partners.