Edge Hill goes global

As the world continues to ‘shrink’ and society becomes global, international links are now more vital than ever. As part of Edge Hill University’s efforts to develop its worldwide activities, a new collaboration has been set up in Singapore, a burgeoning educational hub for the region and a springboard to China and India.

The partnership created with the FY Institute of Technology (Singapore) provides degree-level education for students in that country and from the region in the two areas of Business and Management, and Engineering Management.

So, how did this come about? “Our initial discussions on potential collaboration with FY Institute of Technology (Singapore) actually began a few years ago,” said Keith Cook, a senior lecturer in Management at Edge Hill University and the programme’s leader and liaison tutor. “After going through all the usual processes and procedures, it was agreed that the University should work with the institute, which is a private college set up in 2005 as the first overseas campus of Qingdao Feiyang Vocational and Technical College in China. We then registered 40 students who already had a background in studying at a level just below that of an honours degree on to the two programmes in 2008/09.”

These students graduated with their degrees in December. Since they did not attend the graduation ceremony at Edge Hill on 4 December, a separate event was organised by the students to celebrate their graduation at the Institute. Evidence that the programme is proving effective is provided by the fact that three more courses have been introduced, and it is hoped that students on Leisure and Tourism Management, Accountancy Management and Computing Management will be enrolling soon.

“We believe there are a number of really important things about this programme,” added Keith. “Firstly, we are giving opportunities to students who wish to come to a different environment and learn. We have students who are experiencing a slightly different way of learning, which quite rightly requires that they approach issues in a more analytical manner sometimes. This makes the students think and question more than they might perhaps do otherwise. We feel that our input is not only important academically, but is also helping students to gain practical skills such as team working, communication, analysing, researching and decision-making. These are all the things they will need to develop in order to be successful in the workplace.

“Also, though, we must mention the students’ English skills. They all come on to the programme with a good and tested language level, which ensures that they can work in what is usually their second language. The academic demands we place on the students mean that this is tested further, which is important because there is no doubt that the ability to plan, research and write a dissertation in English for a student who may not be a native speaker is a great skill.”

There’s no doubt that this global collaboration is bringing great benefits to the Singaporean students, but what does Edge Hill see from the partnership? Apart from establishing an obvious presence in the country, Keith believes there are other tangible benefits too. “We have established a very strong working relationship with FY Institute of Technology (Singapore),” he said. “This has been of real benefit to staff from both organisations, as we have had to find ways to work and co-operate to establish various systems to make things work.”

In terms of making the programme work, Edge Hill has been able to offer expertise and resources from departments and areas such as registry, academic quality, and teaching and learning, as well as technical learning resources such as e-books and the virtual learning environment. Over in Singapore, resources, materials and assistance have been provided for the systems required to manage the programme. “In essence, we work to develop things sufficiently in order that they match the level of systems that we have here at Edge Hill. Perhaps because of this, we have also managed to provide various development opportunities for some of the staff from FY Institute of Technology (Singapore) too,” explained Keith.

This view is backed up by Jayaram Menon, Academic Director at FY Institute of Technology (Singapore), who says: “Our partnership with Edge Hill University has been great and definitely helped us to develop more robust academic quality systems. As an exercise in continuing education, it has been a real learning experience for all of us.”

So, now that the programme has seen its first graduate cohort, what is the plan for the future? “The ideal would be that the programme grows in terms of courses and students,” Keith concluded. “It would also be great to have some of the students come to Edge Hill to continue their studies, and one of the students, Yan Fei, has already shown an interest in doing his postgraduate course here. At the same time we hope it will set a trail for other students to follow, and it would be brilliant to open up some placement or internship opportunities for our UK students who might wish to study in Singapore or even China. I suppose that’s the thing about developing global partnerships such as this – once you start you realise just how useful they are and how many opportunities can flow from them as a result.”

For further information about the programme with FY Institute of Technology (Singapore), contact Keith Cook, Senior Lecturer in Management on 01695 657655 or email keith.cook@edgehill.ac.uk