Earlier this week we looked at how two higher education institutions in Northern Ireland are funding a wide variety of Erasmus+ exchange projects beyond Europe thanks to Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility (ICM).
Here we see how three more higher education colleges in the country are supporting their students and staff, to study, teach or train in countries outside the European Union.
South Eastern Regional College
South Eastern Regional College (SERC) has received more than 120,000 euro in funding for four exciting ICM projects in Japan, Thailand, Uganda and Pakistan.
In Pakistan, SERC’s staff will support the RISE Group of Colleges to introduce a UK-awarded qualification in engineering into the curriculum, leading to the development of an HND programme.
SERC is supporting Kyambogo University, Uganda, to introduce new and innovative teaching pedagogies through active learning and technology enhanced learning, using change management to implement this new practice.
In Thailand, SERC staff have received training in food process engineering, an identified key area of need within the college, from King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL). KMITL specialise in science and technology and have helped SERC staff to develop specific food engineering technical skills and increase their industry knowledge, which has led to the development of a programme of support for local agri-food businesses.
KMITL staff have developed their knowledge of active learning through training delivered by SERC staff and are applying this in the classroom to improve their learning and teaching.
In Japan’s Toyama National College of Technology (TNCT), SERC staff received training in robotics and delivered training in active learning and industry engagement. This helped SERC staff develop specific engineering technical skills and industry knowledge, which have been applied to SERC's engineering curriculum.
The project culminated in an end of year showcase competition for its students, Robocon, which is now an annual event at SERC. Students design, manufacture and present their robot creations, helping to improve their communication and technical skills in programming, product design and app building.
Southern Regional College
Southern Regional College received more than 27,000 euro for an ICM partnership with Messiah College in the United States to send and receive students and staff, to boost skills and employability and produce a training programme that will improve the quality of tuition in their STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) subjects.
A key part of this project was for the staff and students to network with Almac, a major pharmaceutical company, to improve tutors' expertise and make curricular linkages to the STEM industries.
The five staff who took part have not only inspired young people, but also supported their colleagues in the classroom by explaining current and developing applications of STEM in industry and research from both countries. Through meaningful employee development staff have been encouraged to think broadly about how the STEM curriculum should be delivered.
Asha Jamil, SRC Science Lecturer, (pictured on the left) said: “There were great examples of good practice that I observed at Messiah, particularly in relation to the Messiah Collaboratory Unit and their excellent use of project based learning (PBL) to enforce their student learning.”
Mark Kennedy, SRC Science Lecturer (pictured right) agreed: “The Collaboratory unit was fantastic to experience; it showcased students and how they are trying to help solve real world problems in third world countries, such as how to get access to clean water from wells.”
One of the two students who spent three months studying at Messiah College, Faye Masson, said: “The time spent in the US was amazing and I will never forget it. I have met so many people from all kinds of cultures and backgrounds that we never would have had the opportunity to meet it had not been for this mobility.
The students who went on the exchange have been able to experience studying their subjects in a different country which has increased their confidence no end.
"Messiah College has given me a better understanding of my course and the career path that I would like to pursue, as I have been introduced to a variety of majors and jobs that I never knew existed!
"I feel that I have personally grown, I am now more organised and my independence has improved as I have dealt with situations that allowed me to use my own initiative.”
"This project has given our STEM staff the opportunity to develop professionally, to network, forge links with industry, learn innovative approaches and share ideas and resources which will impact on our future curricula frameworks for the benefit of all our STEM students," said Diana Farrelly MBE, Manager International Affairs at the college.
"The students who went on the exchange have been able to experience studying their subjects in a different country which has increased their confidence no end and given them an awareness of job opportunities at a more global level."
North West Regional College
North West Regional College (NWRC) was awarded more than 160,000 euro, the largest sum for an individual ICM project in Northern Ireland, to offer staff exchanges with TeamLease Skills University (TLSU), the first vocational university in India.
NWRC is particularly interested in the links between higher education and the work environment and recognises the value of working with international partners.
The exchanges for 11 staff from NWRC and 24 from TLSU have helped each institution to explore best practice, focusing on specific vocational areas such as hospitality and tourism, IT and software engineering, business, employer engagement, apprenticeships and technology enhanced learning services. The project has helped staff to encourage enterprise and entrepreneurship among students, who have benefited from working on industry-based projects, better equipping them for the job market.