'Trip of a lifetime' for Birmingham teenagers

Academy Excellence Award winners 2011
12 Oct 2011 11:28:00.000


A group of Birmingham A-level pupils who won a prize trip to China have described their experience as ‘life-changing’.

The five teenagers, from the Tudor Grange Academy in Solihull, were awarded the prize for the ‘best business concept’ in this year’s Academy Excellence Awards, after coming up with the idea for a biogas digester in every British garden.

They spent a week at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, based in the bustling coastal city of Ningbo, south of Shanghai, with sight-seeing excursions that included the Forbidden City in Beijing.

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The idea for the biogas digester would transform waste from the garden and home into gas that can be burnt for electricity. The Tudor Grange team clinched the award after illustrating the concept with an experiment in front of the judges — to show how the product would work.

The University of Nottingham sponsored the Academy Excellence Awards, hosted the final event and sponsored the trip. The Awards celebrate academic achievement and are open to all students in years 11-13 at academies in England.

The group’s teacher, Lee Gray, said: “The trip has been absolutely fantastic. Our students have thoroughly enjoyed this visit. They all say it is the best thing they have ever done. They have made friendships that will last and have seen new possibilities for their future studies and careers.”

Mr Gray said that it had been fascinating to see students from around the world receiving a British education in China — the world’s most exciting economy and a culturally vibrant country.

“What has amazed me is that students at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) get the same level of opportunity as students at The University in Nottingham in terms of certain courses — and they get even more opportunities in terms of the life experience.

“The opportunity to learn Mandarin and work in a different cultural environment, as well as developing links within a global setting is invaluable to students” said Mr Gray. The teenagers returned from their China trip last week.

Haroon Ahmed, 16, said of his first visit to China: “I have been planning to pursue a career in medicine, but after visiting China and seeing how many different opportunities there are available for people I have realised there are many other career options — particularly in business.”

Emily Beech, 16, who plans a career in law, said that she is now contemplating studying at The University of Nottingham in order to take advantage of the exchange opportunities between the global campuses.

“The people are very nice and the environment is great at Nottingham’s university in Ningbo. It looks like a great place to study. The campus is absolutely lovely. I like the idea of having the opportunity to study in other countries during my degree programme,” she said.

Vinay Sharma, 17, said he liked the idea of a career in dentistry until he spent a week at UNNC. “The idea of business has popped into my head. The prospects in business in China are incredible. Just seeing the construction and how China is developing has opened my mind.”

He said he enjoyed sampling the culture and exploring a unique country and added that “to call the people hospitable would be an understatement”.

Jordanne Stevenson, 16, said the highlight of her trip was a visit to Ningbo’s Tianyige library, which is one of the oldest in China, while Jenna Hyde, 16, said that “it has been inspirational and has helped me focus on what I want to do” of her week in China.

Jenna said that a social entrepreneurship project run by UNNC’s Students In Free Enterprise organisation had made its mark on her.

“It was incredible to see how the people who were being helped in a job creation project responded to the students. You could see on their faces how happy they were to see the students,” she said of the visit to a project that entails helping elderly people in financial difficulty produce artistic handkerchiefs for boutiques.

The Academy Excellence Awards aim to provide a flagship initiative for the whole academies movement and are sponsored by the David Ross Foundation.

Professor Sarah O’Hara, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Access and Community Engagement, said: “I’m delighted these pupils enjoyed their trip to The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China. We’re seeing an increasing number of UK students choosing to study for a Nottingham degree in China, and it’s great that the team from the Tudor Grange Academy were able to get a taste of what it’s like to study in one of the world’s most dynamic countries.”

Professor Gethin Wyn Roberts, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering and coordinator of the prize, said: “This trip gave some UK students the opportunity to get a taste for the other study opportunities available to them. In this globalised world, it is possible to do your entire degree programme in English and graduate with a Nottingham UK degree from China.

“Students here have the added advantage of gaining invaluable experience in understanding how other cultures work, in particular the culture of a country that has become a superpower and that is still a relative mystery to many people.

“Studying in China gives students something extra for their CV. It shows potential employers that they are adventurous, open-minded and have international insights that are essential for success in today’s interconnected world,” he said.

Students have the option of living in a UK-style international residence on campus. Some degree programmes are run partly in the UK and partly in China.

The University of Nottingham Ningbo China offers degree courses that are identical to programmes offered at The University of Nottingham in the following faculties: Science and Engineering; Arts and Humanities; and Social Sciences, which includes a branch of the Nottingham University Business School.

Professor Roberts said that the University has plans to expand its international outreach activities, giving other UK-based A-level pupils similar opportunities to visit the Ningbo campus.

For more information about our degree programmes, please see our latest international student prospectus.

– Ends –

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as “the nearest Britain has to a truly global university”, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia.

The University of Nottingham Ningbo China was opened in 2004 with the Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, Professor Yang Fujia, as its founding President.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More information about our degree programmes at http://www.nottingham.edu.cn

Story credits

For more information or to be put in touch with a University expert for comment, please contact: Professor Gethin Wyn Roberts, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, The University of Nottingham Ningbo China on +86(0) 574 8822 2623, jane.wang@nottingham.edu.cn; Jackie Hadland, Communications Officer, The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, on +86 (0) 574 8818 0940, +86-134 2935 5876, jackie.hadland@nottingham.edu.cn
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: tim.utton@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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