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Northern Regional College links up with Vuselela College in South Africa…via Zoom


Screenshot of zoom call

Despite all the travel restrictions imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, travel and tourism students at Northern Regional College are still sharing international best practice experiences with students in South Africa. Level 2 and 3 students from the College’s Ballymena campus, used Zoom to extend the walls of their online classroom for a virtual catch-up with Vuselela TVET in north-west South Africa.

Travel and Tourism lecturer, Karen McLeod said she was delighted with how her students had engaged with technology to maintain the link the Vuelela College.

“Study visits, which promote international understanding, intercultural learning and skills, are an important part of the travel and tourism curriculum but current travel restrictions meant we had to be innovative and offer international learning opportunities to our students in another way,” Karen explained.

The Ballymena students awre joined on the Zoom call by Anna Marie Pitts, Programme Manager of Vuselela College; former student Holly Hume who visited the College in South Africa and is now doing a degree in International Travel and Tourism at Ulster University; and Kelli McRoberts, Manager of Carrick Enterprise Agency.

Karen continued: “We had a great session, which was both educational and entertaining. We discussed the impact of the pandemic on teaching and learning and shared our thoughts and vision for the recovery of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries post-Covid.

“It’s interesting to realise that students everywhere face similar issues and challenges but, despite everything that’s going on, they still share the same positive outlook for the future of the industry.”

Anne Marie Pitts acknowledged that the increased use of communication technology was a possible positive consequence of Covid.

“The pandemic has forced us to expand our knowledge of communication technology like Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter etc., to allow us to connect with each other instantly and face-to-face. I think it’s fantastic that Northern Regional College is incorporating this advanced technology to internationalise its travel and tourism curriculum and it is our goal to ultimately empower students to do likewise,” Anne Marie said.

Kelli McRoberts, who previously collaborated with Northern Regional College through the Coastal Tourism Hub programme, said she was delighted to have an opportunity to take part in the discussion with students and lecturers from Northern Regional College and Vuselela College.

“It was great to re-connect and share my experiences of working with tourism businesses along the Causeway Coastal route and share our plans to re-imagine the business as a result of Covid.”

Holly Hume told the students that she really appreciated the value of international visits.

“I had a brilliant experience as a travel and tourism student at Northern Regional College and know from my own personal experience how much students can learn when they embrace international opportunities and learning. I am passionate about this concept and it was great to be able to share experiences with the students. Covid-19 has impacted on us all, wherever we live, study and work in the world so it was interesting to hear the perspective of students in another part of the world,” Holly said.