One of the most fascinating things about my job is looking at the background of our distance learning students when they complete their applications to study with us…Where do they come from? What do they do? Why do they want to study with us?
Perhaps most striking when looking at all of these things is the international diversity of our student community, both on campus and those studying with us by distance learning. A quick look at the last few intakes shows that we have had distance learners from around 45 countries across six continents. Alone in our most recent intake this April we had new starters from 14 countries across three continents including places as far flung as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Canada, America, the Seychelles and the Cayman Islands.
We are proud to have this huge diversity of students on our courses. By studying with us, even by distance learning, our students become part of a large international community which has a wealth of unique experiences to share. The connections our students make whilst studying with us are often maintained after graduation, building a huge international network of museum professionals with Leicester at its heart.
Just this morning on the bus as I came into work I was chatting on Twitter to Jenni who is currently tweeting from @I_amGermany, a ‘rotation curation’ account where the ‘tweeter’ changes on a weekly basis. This particular account is not generally connected to museums at all. I follow it (from my personal Twitter account) because of my germanophile tendencies – I used to live and work in Cologne and in Weimar. However, Jenni mentioned that she worked at the ‘Staatliche Museen zu Berlin‘ (State Museums Berlin) and, as we continue to converse, I mentioned where I work and discovered that she had completed an MA in Museum Studies with us here on campus a few years ago – well before I worked here.
I mention this as, although it might sound like a bit of a coincidence, it just emphasised the impact the School here has on the museum community at home and abroad. Now, I’m a Leicester lad, born-and-bred, I’ve done fair bit of travelling and I’ve worked with people from a whole range of different countries – and it’s not often that people have heard of my home town. Unless, or so it seems, they work in museums.
(Actually the only other time I experienced anything similar was in the late 1990s when I worked with a lot of Turkish immigrants in Germany – the teenage lads had all heard of Leicester, as, at that time, Turkish international footballer Muzzy Izzet was one of Leicester City’s star players…)
So to go back to my original point, it’s a delight to see such a wonderfully international new cohort of distance learners and to be able to extend to them a warm welcome to the School and the University. They will, without doubt, enrich our community of learners and museum professionals yet further – we look forwards to getting to know them and wish them well with their studies.