College president makes presentation at World Congress

Monday, December 6, 2010
Dr. Michael Chipps and Dr. Richard Tubbs in England. (Courtesy photo)

NORTH PLATTE, Nebraska -- By the time Dr. Michael Chipps, President of Mid-Plains Community College in west-central and Southwest Nebraska, returned from the 2010 World Congress of World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics in Birmingham, U.K.in mid-November, he was further persuaded that institutions worldwide are facing issues similar to those he is experiencing at the college he serves.

"From presenting and listening at conference sessions, it is clear to me that the issues facing American higher education are quite similar around the globe," he said. "UK ministry educators spoke to college presidents -- titled 'Principals' in England -- about the economic woes which result in financial shortfalls to colleges for operations and the pressing needs for higher education by governments and students around the world. This is a delicate time for all facets of education, but particularly for higher education as the 'race to the top' is almost at a frenzy level as governments clamor for the masses to become well-educated."

Dr. Chipps, along with Dr. Richard Tubbs, Vice President of McCook Community College, were formally invited to co-present at the World Congress by Professor Dr. Roger Bennett, Principal of North Lindsey College in Scunthorpe, England, and Janie Keilthy, NLC Deputy Principal. The four leaders from the two colleges presented, "International Partnership Best Practices."

Their presentation was based on a Global Education Partnership Agreement between MPCC and NLC that was established in November 2007 to "develop the academic cooperation, exchange and development of relationships among students, faculty, administration, and board members of the two colleges under the principle of reciprocity and mutual benefits."

Since that time, the colleges have exchanged students, faculty and administrators in the areas of transportation, building trades, graphic design, healthcare, and early childhood development. The program between the two colleges has been a resounding success, according to Dr. Chipps.

"From all accounts, our students, faculty and staff have returned excited about their newfound knowledge and appreciation of a global and yet flat world," he said. "It is an understatement to say that those who have participated in the exchanged relay that it is a 'life changing' experience that will not ever be forgotten. It not only changes the way the participants view their occupations, but it changes the way they view the world. It broadens their perspectives beyond explanation."

In addition to their presentation, Dr. Chipps and Dr. Tubbs were able to join international peers and colleagues to consider how education is driving global recovery, and to develop further international partnerships. They shared and listened to best practice on key issues such as entrepreneurship, teaching methods, internationalizing the curriculum, improving governance and increasing quality.

They were also able to attend presentations by leading figures from Ghana, China, Canada, India, England and numerous other European countries, as well as attending the Association of Colleges Annual Conference which was held after the World Congress. The AoC is leading membership organization for Further Education Colleges in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

"Talking with the students who represented the colleges hosting the World Congress reinforced my firm belief that we have an obligation to provide the opportunity for our students to gain that global perspective. Helping our students in the Skills USA competitions enter the World Skills competition is just one way," said Dr. Tubbs.

Dr. Chipps and Dr. Tubbs were also invited to tour South Staffordshire College outside of Birmingham and Middlesex University in North London and had the opportunity to visit with the Middlesex administration about the possibility of Mid-Plains students transferring to their university to complete their bachelor's degrees. Middlesex is a large urban university with about 35,000 students worldwide.

MPCC will be working on developing the transfer agreement, which would allow MPCC students to participate in a three-week summer session between the first and second year of attending MPCC. Upon completion of their two-year associate's degree from MPCC, they could transfer to Middlesex University to complete their four-year degree. Middlesex is prepared to offer MPCC graduates a 2,000 pound scholarship for each of the two years to attend the University.

The World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics is an international network of colleges, along with national and regional associations of colleges, established to provide leadership in the delivery of lifelong learning, which promotes individual learning and which benefits society and the global economy. The President/CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, Dr. George Boggs, is the current Chair of the WFCP.

It is the leading international event for the vocational education and technical and skills training community. This year's event was hosted by Association of Colleges (AoC), the leading membership organization for Further Education Colleges in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

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