Pembroke eyes mainland China

5th May 1995 at 01:00
The latest brochures for Pembroke College in West Wales have just been delivered. They are in Mandarin and are part of a strategy that has seen the college achieve great success marketing itself abroad.

Because Wales has a track record of working with Japanese companies, it was an obvious target for the college to start with. It has been a success with 350 to 500 Japanese students a year coming to Haverford West for courses ranging from a week to a year.

The initiative also reflects the college's mission statement to do all it can to assist inward investment into the area. It is hoped that, in time, the Japanese students will remember the area and its potential.

Already there have been successes. A local company has just exported a Crystal Maze to a leisure centre in Negoya, Japan; the college helped the company understand Japanese business culture and with staff training.

But principal Ioan Morgan is uncertain whether a broad campaign to encourage more colleges to market themselves abroad is a good idea. "We are all independent and if one of us breaks into a foreign market there is a little bit of a temptation to keep it to ourselves."

The college has an official association with the Hiroshima Business College. Japanese students, who board with local families, look at language and culture while studying a range of vocational courses at Pembroke.

There was no help initially from the British Council or DTI, but Mr Morgan says the British Consul in Japan gave support at ceremonial occasions. "As far as I know we are still the only college that has really broken into the Japanese market." The initiatives are worth several hundreds of thousands of pounds each year to the college, which is also acting as a consultant for projects in Brazil and India.

There are further plans to assist the training of black teachers in South Africa through a link with the East London Technical College in Eastern Cape. Closer to home the college traditionally recruits from Ireland for a wide range of courses.

The Mandarin Chinese brochures are for a recruitment drive in Taiwan. College representatives have made two visits to the country on trade missions. And although a recent British Festival was dominated by universities selling their wares, Taiwan is regarded as an important new market for FE colleges to break into.

But the big prize in Mr Morgan's eyes is Taiwan's neighbour. "The potential for further education in mainland China must be huge. It could well be Taiwan will be a stepping stone for us to get in there."

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