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South East Colleges Are Working in International Arena

In response to the report on FE News that highlighted the issue of international involvement and called for greater awareness in FE for the broader picture, the Association of South East Colleges (AoSEC) has pointed out that a great deal is already being done in this field.

In a letter to the Editor of FE News, Alan Corbett of AoSEC welcomed the attention that has been brought to bear on the importance of looking beyond borders. However, he was eager to point out that there was too much attention paid to the negative aspects rather than the positive, and he believes that the “island mentality” referred to is becoming an anachronism to be forgotten.

The Letter

Mr. Corbett wrote: “I am delighted that there is a timely focus on FE colleges and the need to increase international perspective. However, I fear that the debate is overlooking important work already undertaken by FE colleges, yet unreported in the media, so maybe invisible to the public at large. Needless to say, Colleges in South East England are at the forefront of this work, setting a superb example of what can be achieved, given determination and a “can-do” attitude.

“Esher College is a prime example,” he continued. “The college has established links with counterparts in France and Germany and this, inter alai, has resulted in language students spending summer holidays working in Europe and total immersion in foreign languages. Jobs include museum, retail and even media work. Thanet College’s international perspective resulted in its establishing French language training for railway workers, with great success, showing that mastery of the language is not an obstacle, even though most students arrive with no prior foreign linguistic knowledge.”

Two Way Street

Mr. Corbett also pointed out that it is a two way street, writing: “The international esprit extends to “inbound” students, too, with Japanese youngsters attending the college and undertaking work placements during their stay. Also in Kent, Canterbury College sends students on the Tourism and Hospitality courses to Fécamp in France, where they gain invaluable work experience, whilst living and breathing the language.” He concluded by calling for more acknowledgement of achievement: “Please can we be proud of what we have already achieved in this important arena and desist from always assuming that we are inferior when it comes to international perspectives.”

Speaking as Editor for FE News, I agree that the positives should be acknowledged and am delighted to highlight the work done in colleges represented by AoSEC. The article yesterday focussed on the call from fforwm’s Chief Executive for lessons to be learnt from abroad; it would seem that AoSEC are also extremely active, and should be praised for this participation.

Jethro Marsh

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