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Achieving the AoC’s Charter for International Excellence

City College Plymouth is one of the first colleges in the UK to receive the Association of Colleges’ Charter for International Excellence (a Charter Mark for those Colleges which have made a commitment to quality assuring and taking a ethical approach to all areas of their international activity and to making the global agenda ‘an agenda for all’ – staff, students and the local communities served by the College). International Manager, Jessica Randall explains what it means to the Devon based College.

It’s a great accolade for City College Plymouth to receive the AoC’s new Charter for Excellent in support of our work with international students – and of course to be the first College in the South West to receive such recognition.

At present the College is fortunate enough to be only one of three in the UK to receive the Charter for Excellence in International Education and Training – in order to be recognised we underwent a rigorous two-day review looking at our international student recruitment and support, higher education international partnerships, English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and other European projects, including our Leonardo programme.

The review was conducted by a team of three experts in the field, and led by the International Director of the Association of Colleges. It proved to be a very valuable exercise, to be able to demonstrate the quality of our international provision and in return to benefit from the opinions of the review team, with the aim of continuously improving our service.

Also, the College is a Highly Trusted Sponsor with the UK Border Agency for admitting UK students, so this additional kitemark is another useful way of proving to potential students and partners that the College is a bona fide and a responsible study destination.

Already on a recent visit to China since being awarded the Charter, existing partners have been impressed that the Association of Colleges’ and the UK government are taking the issue of quality assuring international work in colleges so seriously.

And of course, since the international work in colleges does not formally fall within the remit of Ofsted inspections, the introduction of the Charter is a useful tool for international students and parents to be able to judge the quality of what is on offer at a particular college.

This all highlights what the College has already achieved on an international level – for over seven years we have been operating a very successful three-way partnership with the University of Plymouth and the China Agricultural University in Beijing, whereby students spend one year of study at each of the partner institutions, working towards a bachelors degree in either accounting and finance or business from the University of Plymouth.

And I’m pleased to say since the beginning of our international work 587 students have enrolled on the programme, which has had unprecedented success, with 23 of the students graduating from the University of Plymouth in 2009 in First Class Honours Degrees.

This partnership model is now being rolled out with the University of Plymouth to develop new partnerships, across different curriculum areas such as hospitality and management and tourism management, with other new partners in China and in other countries, including Nepal and Vietnam, in order to further diversify the student population in the College.

All of which is incredibly important as our international work establishes sustainable recurrent revenue streams, reducing the dependency on fluctuating government funding, and to contribute to the economic success of the region and the local community.

And not forgetting that it encourages a global perspective in students and staff in the College in a part of the UK with a relatively low BME population, thus it develops a more outward-looking perspective and an understanding of the diversity of different cultures and ethnic groups.

For City College Plymouth the recognition of the Charter will further enhance our depth of commitment to international activities, which can only have a positive impact on everyone involved.

Jessica Randall is international manager at City College Plymouth

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