NC hosts Latin American education leaders and college administrators

NC President Dan Patterson and Unidades Tecnológicas de Santander (UTS) rector, Omar Lengerke Perez sign a Memorandum of Understanding between Niagara College and UTS to explore opportunities for student and faculty exchanges as well as academic pathways.

In 2018, the College announced that it was awarded three contracts for global development projects, part of the Pacific Alliance, by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan), with a focus on sustainable development and skills for employment in Latin America. Federally funded by Global Affairs Canada, NC will support the projects’ implementation in Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico until 2021.

From May 8 to 9, Niagara College welcomed 19 global education leaders and college administrators from Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico – members of the Pacific Alliance (PA) project – on a leadership tour.

“We were very proud to host our partners in the Pacific Alliance project,” said NC director, Global Education and Partnerships, Justin Williams. “This has been a significant opportunity to bring together our partners to continue to lead the sharing of best practices and excellence in Technical Vocational and Education Training (TVET).”

Following Colleges and Institutions Canada (CICan)’s annual conference hosted by NC this May, NC invited PA project partners to the College for a leadership tour as part of capacity building activities. The delegation included NC’s Canadian PA partners and three institutions in the PA region in which NC is supporting: Universidad Tecnológica de Campeche (UTCAM) in Mexico, Unidades Tecnológicas de Santander (UTS) in Colombia, and Centro de Formación Técnica de la Universidad Católica del Norte (CEDUC) in Chile.

(From left to right) Pictured are Universidad Tecnológica de Campeche (UTCAM)’s Rosalio Farfan, NC president Dan Patterson, and UTCAM’s Luis Velázquez Cruz.

The group including two college rectors, ministry of education personnel from Chile, and college administrators from Colombia, Mexico and Chile. The Canadian personnel included a senior project officer from CICan and Niagara’s PA partners from colleges and cégeps, among them Cégep l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Marine Institute. During the tour, the delegation witnesses TVET practices in a Canadian context, which serves as a starting point to increase TVET capacity at the local level in Latin America.

During the visit, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Niagara College and UTS in Colombia to explore opportunities for student and faculty exchanges as well as academic pathways.

“The objective of this visit was to create alliances with other institutions like NC who are recognized nationally and internationally, and also to explore best practices in education, organization and in having a positive impact for the workforce,” said UTS rector, Omar Lengerke Perez, PhD. He noted that the leadership tour was a chance to create relationships in Canada, to meet other global leaders, and to break the paradigm of institutions in their home countries. “This great experience makes us think differently, specifically the example of applied education model as seen here at NC,” said Lengerke Perez.

Lengerke Perez witnessed a strong sense of ownership culture at NC – taking initiative, being accountable, problem-solving, and demonstrating leadership – which he says educational institutions in other countries strive for.

For Lengerke Perez, the visit to NC was memorable. “NC is a leader in the region, in Canada and internationally. NC is well recognized in Colombia. It was great to see all the theory is a reality here. This visit is a validation of what we’ve heard. We leave with lots of projects and expectations. Like you say here at Niagara College, ‘Applied Dreams’ – we hope to apply those dreams in Colombia.”

Through supporting the enhancement of socioeconomic opportunities for men and women and the development of accessible and sustainable employment opportunities, the College continues to work towards supporting students around the world in pursuit of their personal goals and career dreams.