I am delighted that there is a timely focus on FE colleges and the need to increase international perspective. However, I fear that the debate is overlooking important work already undertaken by FE colleges, yet unreported in the media.
Colleges in south-east England are at the forefront of this work, setting a superb example of what can be achieved, given determination and a "can-do"
Esher College is a prime example. The college has established links with counterparts in France and Germany and this, among other things, has resulted in language students spending summer holidays working in Europe and total immersion in foreign languages. Jobs include museum, retail and even media work.
Thanet College's international perspective resulted in its establishing French language training for railway workers, with great success, showing that mastery of the language is not an obstacle, even though most students arrive with no prior foreign linguistic knowledge.
The international esprit extends to "inbound" students, too, with Japanese youngsters attending the college and undertaking work placements during their stay.
Also in Kent, Canterbury College sends students on the tourism and hospitality courses to Fecamp in France, where they gain invaluable work experience, while living and breathing the language.
Please can we be proud of what we have already achieved in this important arena and desist from always assuming that we are inferior when it comes to international perspectives.
Association of South East Colleges
The University of Reading, London Road