Entrepreneurial students from Nottingham Trent University (NTU) have boosted their business acumen and employability skills with a visit to Mexico.
Twenty-eight students from various schools at NTU visited CETYS University (The Centre for Technical and Higher Education) in the state of Baja California, split across two trips which were supported by the Turing Scheme.
During a three-week stay they undertook study, cultural and community-based activities designed to support their individual studies and offer personal and professional development.
Bespoke schedules were developed with CETYS that included academic lectures, workshops, courses and volunteering within the local community on projects such as redecorating a school.
New design project inspired by experience
Some of the students, who already run their own fledgling businesses alongside their studies at NTU, also had the chance to meet and learn from start-ups in the local region, many of which had been launched by CETYS alumni.
“I run a small product design consultancy start-up with two of my peers who came along on this trip,” said product design student Bethany Grover. “Going to Mexico has given us an amazing opportunity to create and work on a design project – based on the rich history and culture of the country that we were taught about while we were there – that we are now continuing back home in the UK.
“Visiting the different universities and meeting the staff and students was probably one of the biggest highlights for me. Everyone I met on the trip was so friendly and ready to help or chat.
“There were a few students who really went above and beyond and made my time in Mexico absolutely wonderful. I have managed to stay in contact with some of them and hope to keep in touch in the future.”
“For me, it was life changing. From the activities, interactions with both UK and Mexican students, to what I experienced in my free time,” said psychology student Amie Higginbottom. “I learned so much about the ways to live life and I took away more global knowledge in three weeks than I did in years. It was an unforgettable and treasurable experience for everyone.”
Fellow psychology student, Esi Cynthia Jacqueline Obiri, said: “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would do over and over again if possible. It made me more confident and independent, and I gained valuable knowledge that I will apply to my future career.”
“It has been a real pleasure to witness a true flourishing of our NTU students through this transformational experience,” said Angela Vesey, employability manager and principal lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at NTU.
Video call with British Ambassador
“They have enthusiastically immersed themselves in the challenges of a new culture, adapting so impressively to multicultural teamwork. They have been completely unfazed by any unanticipated situations, honing some great employability skills for the future – teamwork, presentation and problem solving to name a few. They have made lasting friendships too. We are so proud of them.”
The trips even came to the attention of the British Ambassador in Mexico, Jon Benjamin, who, although he couldn’t meet them while in the country, spoke to some of the students via video link after they had returned to the United Kingdom.
“The meeting was a celebration of the NTU-CETYS partnership but also a chance for our students to meet with the embassy officials, ask questions and have a genuine discussion about their experience in Mexico,” said NTU Senior Global Partnerships Manager Cato Rolea.
Ranging from short trips to full semesters and whole years abroad, a total of 421 NTU students were able to study and work overseas with the support of the university’s Turing Scheme grant during the 2021 to 2022 academic year.
Among others to benefit were product design student Molly Gurr, who spent a period of study at Utah State University in the United States, and animal biology student Ana Goncalves Ferreira, who undertook a work placement in Italy with Salviamo l’Orso, a non-profit association working to save the Marsican brown bear from extinction.
“I had a great experience at Utah State studying outdoor product design,” said Molly. “My subjects were different but complementary to those l learn at NTU. My experience enabled me to develop new skills, that I was able to bring back. It was a really valuable and insightful opportunity to experience the outdoor industry aspect, which I really enjoyed.”
Ana said: “My placement abroad experience has been truly enjoyable. It was an amazing opportunity to see and work in what felt like a fantasy land full of nature in the Central Apennines, with lots of fantastic people.”
Find out more about higher education funding opportunities with the Turing Scheme