Bradford College and a polytechnic in China could soon be working together for the benefit of students in both counties.
The college and Guangzhou Panyu Polytechnic are investigating ways in which they might collaborate and help improve technical vocational education and apprenticeships on both sides of the world.
Roger Cunliffe, Higher Level Skills Leader at Bradford College, recently spent six days at the polytechnic in south China as part of a 12-day trip organised by the British Council, supported by the Association of Colleges and funded jointly by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Chinese Ministry of Education as part of the UK-China Partners in Education programme.
Bradford College was selected to join the prestigious delegation on account of its reputation for expertise and experience in delivering high quality vocational education and career-focused courses.
With the UK and Chinese governments committed to promoting vocational education and apprenticeships as a means to increasing youth employment, the visit enabled the British delegates to advise their hosts on vocational skills development whilst also learning from their Eastern counterparts.
Senior staff at Guangzhou Panyu Polytechnic were particularly interested to hear Mr Cunliffe’s explanation of the quality processes within Bradford College and the application of apprenticeship programmes.
Also among the party of 25 delegates that travelled to China were senior figures from other leading UK vocational colleges plus representatives from prominent awarding bodies.
High-ranking officials from the Chinese Ministry of Education briefed the visitors following their arrival in Beijing. The group then dispersed to their host colleges across the country before returning to the capital to round off the stay with a seminar and networking event.
Mr Cunliffe, said: “It was a fascinating and productive trip.
“Just as we are in the UK, the Chinese are keen to build the technical workforce and raise the profile of skills training.”
“Our government has a target of creating 3million new apprenticeships by 2020. In China, they don’t have a target figure but they do have a vision that by 2025 they will be innovators rather than imitators.
“A key difference between the two systems was that the polytechnic lecturers in China generally had very little industry experience. They tend to come straight from university to teach with only a few months of industrial training. One of our strengths at Bradford College is the hands-on, industry background of members of our higher education staff. It was good to be able to discuss issues like that.
“Sharing best practice and exploring possible partnerships can only be good for all concerned.
“We are now exploring collaborative opportunities in a range of areas.”