Many 100s of UCOL’s international alumni from countries all around the world stay in touch with their alma mater in New Zealand and many of them are now in key positions in teaching or working in design, film, television, IT, Nursing, Business and many other industries and professions.
The Universal College of Learning – known as UCOL – is one of the most progressive Institutes of Technology in New Zealand: Main aim is to help people succeed in life, by equipping them with the right skills and knowledge – and the right attitude. The success of its students – studying either as International students or as people who have immigrated to New Zealand – proves the point.
Tiffany Chew from Malaysia is a good example. While she was studying at UCOL’s Whanganui School of Design in the beautiful city of Wanganui, she won the students’ section of a top national design competition.
Her work, called Spinobot (which stands for spin about) took the Tertiary Student Award in the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) Business Internet Awards. The awards acknowledge innovation and excellence in research and development in digital and interactive media.
Tiffany created Spinobot in her final year of study for a Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design. Now back in her homeland, she works for a leading interactive design company in Kuala Lumpur, developing websites and other online resources.
Many students from India have completed their Nursing degrees at UCOL and now work in hospitals and Health Care Centres all over New Zealand. UCOL has New Zealand’s largest nursing school and an international reputation in this vocational rich area.
Trevor Salang took a different path in life. He first learned to cook on Borneo Island with only a machete as a cooking implement.
His earliest lesson in cooking came from his father and his grandparents who still use traditional tribal methods, with a wood fire and two metal bars to stop the pot from dropping into the fire. “From my father I learnt how to kill chickens, wild boar, catch fresh fish and gather vegetables from the forest, and cook them with nothing but a machete.”
Trevor came to study in New Zealand when he was 16, finished secondary school and decided on a career as a chef. He liked the idea that he could also develop his artistic bent through food presentation.
Trevor would like to try his hand working overseas in a few years time. “One day I would like to have my own restaurant – always serving a superior product.”
Another student from Malaysia, San Tan wanted to go abroad to study and decided on New Zealand, because she wanted to experience a new culture.
San had always wanted to work with animals, and had a science background so she chose the vet nursing course at UCOL in Palmerston North.
During her placement in a local vet clinic, San found the practical skills she’d learned at UCOL helped her get her first vet nursing job. “I started work at my placement vet clinic as a locum straight after I finished my course.”
San has enjoyed study in New Zealand. “The people are good, they’re fun. And I’ve enjoyed experiencing New Zealand culture: it’s quiet and peaceful, and there’s not so much rushing.”
Bruce Osborne, who heads UCOL’s International unit, is not surprised that international students do well at UCOL. “They work very hard and have a good attitude to study and life,” he says. “And of course they have the support of UCOL. We value students from other countries because they bring new experiences and points of view- and that’s good for all of us.”
Bruce stresses that UCOL is there to help all of its students succeed, in whatever field they choose. “Right now we are celebrating the success of students and staff from our Bachelor of Visual Imaging programme in Palmerston North. They took seven awards, including Institute of the Year for the fifth year running, in the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers national awards.”
UCOL Catering and Hospitality students also took 10 medals (including three Gold) at the National Culinary Fare in Auckland. “We’re proud of them all,” says Bruce.
Other features that make UCOL different include its range of employment-related programmes, its regional range across three campuses in the North Island of New Zealand, the passion of its lecturers.
UCOL offers more than 100 programmes, available on campus and online, from certificates and diplomas to degrees, across a range of trade, professional and creative qualifications. They include chef training and hospitality, fashion, hairdressing, business, computer technology, sport and exercise, fine furniture making, graphic design, fine arts, early childhood training, nursing, performing arts, applied science and trades.
Small classes are the norm and programmes are built around a combination of practical experience and theory.