Officials at Greenwich Community College in London, Bexley College in London and Wirral Metropolitan College in Birkenhead are working with Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) in Arnold, MD, Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, FL, South East Community College in Lincoln, NE, and Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield, MA, to develop a business studies degree that gives community college students an opportunity to experience how businesses operate in different cultures.
Up to this point, the colleges have been comparing the structure and operations of college systems in the two countries. Representatives from the American colleges visited the United Kingdom last summer and representatives from those colleges were visiting the colleges in the United States this spring. Valentina Keller, head of education and training and HE coordinator at Greenwich Community College, Karen Ingram, head of school of higher and continuing education at Bexley College, and Peter Trigg, vice principal at Wirral Metropolitan College, visited AACC in February, where they received an overview of various academic departments, outreach and internship programs and admissions, registration and transfer procedures.
The college partners also have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a degree program in business studies, which would be an associate degree in the United States and a Foundation Degree in the United Kingdom. The partners are mapping curricula to make sure of the transferability of the courses and degree program.
“We want to provide that globalization experience because these students will operate in a global economy,” said Ingram of Bexley College.
They hope to start with a six-to-eight-week program in summer 2010. The partner colleges are structuring the degree to focus on small businesses and entrepreneurship in each country, including opportunities for innovative internships with employer support.
Many aspects of doing business in the U.K. are different than in the U.S. For instance, cultural differences require international businesses to adapt their TV marketing to avoid offending viewers. In addition, business practices and employment laws vary between the two countries.
One of my ESI students, Christian Hendricks, said he is anxious for the program to begin. He sees the exchange as an opportunity to learn another country’s customs and culture before he is put in a paid position responsible for starting or marketing a project in that country. The international experience also would be an asset to a potential employer, he added.
Cost is a concern, so all the colleges are looking for funding sources for their students. But for now, they are focusing on designing the curriculum so it will fit with the colleges on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The goal is to create learning opportunities that give our students a competitive advantage in the global economy.