Putting Wolverhampton on a global map
Amid a sea of international competition, government thinkers and UK universities are making it a priority to give UK graduates the best chance of success in the global job market. Forging closer links with educational institutions overseas and encouraging more students to see the world are part of the plan to raise the global profile of UK graduates. The University of Wolverhampton has made some considerable headway in this area, with some farsighted initiatives of its own.
Many UK universities wishing to put policy into practice could learn a thing or two from activities already under way at the University of Wolverhampton. The University’s internationalisation strategy dovetails seamlessly with Government plans to address the UK’s global education challenges as part of the Prime Minister's Initiative for International Education.
When the Government identified strong strategic alliances with overseas partner institutions as crucial, the University of Wolverhampton responded by reinforcing its already established links with Shenzhen Polytechnic in China, new partners the National Institute for Design and the National Institute for Fashion and Textiles in India, and the Ajman University of Science and Technology in Dubai by promoting student visits.
Chinese study trip
In the interests of advancing outward student mobility, 15 University of Wolverhampton students took part in a two-week cultural visit to China, which included stays at Shenzhen Polytechnic, a weekend with a local family and a weekend trip to Hong Kong. They received 30 hours of Chinese language lessons, martial arts classes and seminars on history, food and the economy in China.
It was the unique nature of this trip that appears to have scored a huge hit with students. Jade Griffiths, who was one of the participating students, says:
“It was an amazing experience; we did things we would never have done as tourists. We were all mesmerised and in awe at the things we saw and experienced.”
On their return, these students have been encouraged to share their experiences among their fellow students and also have the chance to go back to Shenzhen and teach English for nine months as assistant language teachers after they graduate. What better ambassadors for Wolverhampton could the University ask for?
The trip has proved to be so successful that other new international experience initiatives are planned. A trip to Dubai is proposed and a three week visit to India has already gained funding through the Prime Minister’s Initiative. Students from Wolverhampton’s partner institutions in India will make the return trip, establishing greater bonds and an increasing flow of students between the institutions.
Encouraging overseas trips for students
So with many more University of Wolverhampton students poised to experience the wider world, both the institution and its students stand to gain a competitive edge. Director International at the University of Wolverhampton, Jo Gittens, says:
“We are actively encouraging domestic students to venture overseas, which is helping to make them more employable in this increasing global environment.”
This thinking is in accord with Bill Rammell MP, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, who recently wrote to Vice Chancellors, encouraging them to create more opportunities for students to go abroad in order to help them compete for jobs in the global market place.
Add these initiatives to the thriving international community which exists at Wolverhampton, which already attracts students from over 128 different countries, there is clear evidence that the reputation of the University is spreading around the globe. The established presence of Regional Offices in India, Malaysia and China continue to consolidate historically rich recruitment hotspots, whilst new offices in Africa and Poland actively target emerging markets in Central and West Africa, Poland and Eastern Europe. The University also has a large number of Contracted Educational Advisors representing the University around the world.
So, when asked how the University of Wolverhampton is giving its graduates a competitive edge in the global job market and raising its own international profile, one of the most land-locked Universities in the UK can claim to be doing rather more than simply staying above water, it’s positively riding the crest of a wave.
Learning across continents
An historic Memorandum of Understanding in education has been signed between the University of Wolverhampton and Punjab Government.
Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal presided over the function where the MoU was signed.
The MoU was signed by Professor Caroline Gipps, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, and Secretary Education Punjab KBS Sidhu.
The main aim of the MoU is to increase the interflow of educational skills between the Punjab and the UK through a teacher-training programme. Under this arrangement, the teachers in Punjab would receive special academic training by UK teachers, focused on improving their skills, particularly in English language.
This will enable students from the Punjab to be more competitive on a global basis. It will also be an opportunity for the University of Wolverhampton to reach out to its prospective students from Punjab, who might be exploring the possibilities of overseas higher education.
The agreement is part of the ongoing Wolverhampton India Project, launched last year in the House of Commons, which aims to promote multi-level co-operation between the two countries in the fields of sports, education and trade.
Professor Gipps and University Director, International, Jo Gittens were among a delegation from the city, including Pat McFadden MP and Wolverhampton Development Company Chief Executive Stephen Catchpole, who recently visited India to strengthen links for the project.
Two more agreements were signed during the trip last month, one between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and the JCT Football Academy, Hoshiarpur, and another between Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).