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Arabic-speaking director leads charge abroad

In recent years, Derby college has built strong links with Tunisia and Thailand. Groups from both countries come on month-long study tours every spring, summer and autumn.

The students stay with local families and study English and IT as well as taking part in a cultural programme.

Rafik Sfar Gandoura, the college's international director was born in Tunisia and speaks Arabic. He says that over the years more than 3,000 Tunisians have studied at the college.

Derby has 400 overseas students, of whom around 50 are on full-time fee-paying courses. It is also targeting China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan for recruitment.

Its overseas work includes management training for Algerians, work with Libyan businessmen and NVQs for Kuwaitis.

EU Leonardo da Vinci programme funding enables the college to send graphic design, engineering, and leisure and tourism students on three-week work placements to Sweden, France and Germany, where they improve their language skills.

High-flying science, mathematics and technology students also take part in the international space Olympics competition in Korolev, near Moscow, which is home to mission control for the international space station.

Mr Gondoura also recently took part in a project advising the Egyptian government on how to reform vocational training.

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