Learning lessons from overseas

08 November 2013

Learning lessons from overseas

Education Secretary Michael Russell with GCU student Diane Flynn

Education Secretary Michael Russell visited Glasgow Caledonian University to speak to students about the benefits of study trips and to announce this year’s recipients of the 2013/2014 Outward Mobility Fund.

Now in its second year, the Minister was able to speak to GCU students who had benefited from last year’s opportunity to study abroad.   

One beneficiary was Diane Flynn, 19, from Ayr, who shared her experiences of travelling to the University of Massachusetts in Boston in March.

She said: “It was a great surprise to be chosen as I didn’t expect to be given the opportunity to travel in my first year. Travel opened up a new world to me as it gives you a different outlook and a chance to meet with people from different backgrounds. UMass in Boston has a real sense of community where year groups are broken down into small groups and I was quickly able to get to know students studying the same course as me.

“Being a homebird, the experience has allowed me to broaden my horizons and I would love to do it again. But for now, I am focusing on completing my degree with the hope of entering the microbiological aspect of the drinks industry, and if that takes me abroad, I think I would be more open to travel after this experience.”

The Scottish Government’s Outward Mobility Fund was also used to help establish a partnership between the College of Science & Mathematics at the University of Massachusetts. This allowed students from GCU and UMass to enjoy an exchange programme.

Mr Russell announced that GCU had successfully bid for £8,500 to send 10 students abroad. This will include a number of social work students who will be visiting Ersta Skondal University in Stockholm to take part in a conference from students from around the world.

The Outward Mobility Grants for 2014, totalling £122,000, were awarded to students at 11 universities and will allow them to complete study trips in countries including Sweden, China and the USA. 

Mr Russell said: “In today’s global marketplace, there is a huge amount to be learned from overseas practices.

“As we have seen from the grants awarded last year, our funding is helping universities to set up links with peers overseas which helps develop their global perspective. The partnership with the University of Massachusetts is a great example of that and I wish all of today’s grant recipients well as they prepare to embark on their own projects.

“I look forward to finding out more about how all students with involvement in these projects announced today will benefit, and wish them well when the time comes to take what they have learned into the workplace.”

Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University, Professor Pamela Gillies CBE added: “I was delighted that we had the opportunity to host the Cabinet Secretary on his visit to Glasgow Caledonian University, and to hear that our students will benefit again from the Scottish Government’s Outward Mobility Fund.

“Six per cent of GCU students already travel abroad as part of their studies compared with an average of 2% in the UK. We are nevertheless encouraging more of our students, as we have found that overseas experiences develop new skills and confidence and help them appreciate other cultures and points of view. This is vitally important, because our graduates are not only capable of competing in an international labour market, they are also socially responsible and intellectually curious global citizens.”