‘It is vitally important to ensure our students are equipped with the employability skills, intercultural skills and confident attitude to succeed in this international economy.’ Ken Webb, Principal
Through mutually beneficial international partnerships, South Eastern Regional College is positively impacting on learners, staff and the college’s standing, and is now turning internationalisation into a platform for future development.
Based in Northern Ireland, South Eastern Regional College serves more than 32,000 learners and employs around 1,000 members of staff. Considered as one of the UK’s cutting edge educational institutions, the college provides professional and technical qualifications from Entry Level to Level 7.
A partnership approach
Over ten years, the college has built many successful international partnerships, and a new international unit has been established to reinforce these links and develop new global relationships. Some of these partnerships have grown and developed organically, leading to significant mutual benefits. What began life as a student exchange programme with a college in Japan, for example, has steadily grown into a full-fledged college partnership, incorporating aspects of knowledge exchange, best practice sharing, joint student and staff projects and collaborative research. Nurturing this relationship has opened the door to other college partnerships in Japan, Thailand and Singapore.
Most recently, the college has strengthened its global standing by supporting a host of international partnership projects. Through three British Council International Skills Partnerships, the college has supported partners in Pakistan, Egypt and South Africa to develop innovations in the fields of renewables, maritime transport and solar energy. Through two transnational projects, it has supported the launch of a Massive Open Online Course providing free marketing resources to app developers across Europe, and has helped to upskill teaching staff in the use of technology in Italy, Slovenia and Ireland. Alongside these institutional links, the college has a longstanding partnership with the charity Fields of Life to develop a vocational training institute in northern Uganda, which has seen students raise £15,000 through various activities.
Enhancing the curriculum through international opportunities
The college uses internationalisation to enhance teaching and learning by providing staff and students with new personal and professional development opportunities. International activities are helping students improve their intercultural awareness and soft skills, increasing their employability chances in today’s globalised workplace. Many of these projects are supported by Erasmus +, which provides funding for student and staff mobility across a range of vocational and higher education curriculum areas, as well as two partnership projects, one with colleges in Thailand and Japan, and the other with colleges in Pakistan and Uganda. Through these various collaborative initiatives, the college also facilitates knowledge sharing amongst staff, leading to improvements in teaching approaches across the college.
'We recognise today’s increasingly integrated world economy and the challenge to provide learning and teaching responses to this global context. It is important that staff have the experience and knowledge to assist students on this journey. Our strategic approach to internationalisation, and our well managed overseas international partnerships, in particular, ensure that students and staff have exposure and experience on an international stage.' Ken Webb, Principal
A focus on sustainability
An underlying focus of all the college’s international work is how it benefits learners and staff, and the college is continually seeking to build on the significant impact of this international work to develop and grow as an organisation. In particular, it is exploring overseas commercial and funding opportunities and is planning to boost international student recruitment and expand its international school of English. This will ensure more Northern Irish students have the opportunity to learn side-by-side with their international peers and will provide additional funding streams for the future development of the college.