From education to employment

British Council offers first award for international projects in FE

The British Council Further Education International Collaboration Award, to give it its full title, is an award for colleges throughout the UK which create and offer the best international projects for students.

This year it went to the Hospitality and Tourism department of South West College in Northern Ireland, which provides seminars concerning the cultural differences of England, Germany and America in this field. Every year one of the four colleges involved hosts a week of activities for students with different themes from within the Hospitality and Tourism industry.

The British Council itself is offering the award as it has worked closely with many colleges in the development of their respective projects, and believes recognition is necessary to highlight the contribution of such projects to students and schools at home and abroad. South West College won this year as it had managed to demonstrate how a ‘grass roots project’ could provide an education for teachers and students ‘on both sides of the Atlantic.’

The objective of the South West College course is to improve students understanding of the industry and work place environment in different cultures, to ‘boost their professional skills,’ and hopefully build friendships within the industry. As a reward for course excellence, the winning college received a £3000 bursary to help it to continue the good work.

There is no doubt that actual work experience is key to at least consideration on the part of an employer, and a thorough understanding of client culture and base is essential, and with seemingly all the right ingredients it would be interesting to see how many students from South West College successfully make it into the field of their choice through the help of the International Project.

Damian James, curriculum manager, who nominated the department for the award, chose the college for many reasons. Partly because it gives teachers the ability to collaborate with their counterparts abroad, who approach the projects with different perspectives from their cultures in order to develop skills and exchange ideas to improve teaching methods. The course also provides employers from the work placements with the opportunity to provide their own input into the course, and therefore ‘shape their future workforce.’ Finally, he believes the college has granted students an “insight into different cultures and the international workplace,” with some given the chance to continue with their employer after the course has finished to gain “valuable work experience.”

The Award is open to all UK colleges that undertake international projects, and the deadline for nominations is February 2013. You can find more details on the British Council website and in its newsletter.

Daisy Atkinson

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