Nam Vu was born and raised in Vietnam’s northern coastal city, Hạ Long.
But since he was young, Nam dreamed of venturing out of Vietnam and becoming a web developer in New Zealand.
So at the age of eighteen, when he had just finished high school in Vietnam, he joined the CCEL College of English a partner of the University of Canterbury (UC), in Christchurch. Here, he honed his English language skills, becoming more confident with each class he took.
Nam then joined a University Transfer Programme (UTP) in Science at the UC International College (UCIC) where he began his undergraduate studies and began gaining skills in other languages. This time, they were Python and Java — again, his skills and self-confidence grew.
After successfully completing his UTP, he progressed into the second year of the Bachelor of Computer Science (CS) at the University of Canterbury.
This was the culminating point for Nam’s years of hard work and guidance from UCIC and UC faculty members in navigating higher education in a foreign country. He was awarded an International First Year Scholarship by UC, in recognition of his excellent performance both in terms of academic and co-curricular activities at UCIC.
It’s been an enjoyable and stimulating ride for Nam ever since.
His Bachelor’s course is exposing Nam to several different disciplines such as software engineering, information systems, and mathematics — something he takes joy in as he likes creating new things on the computer and learning by doing.
“I practise what I have learned by applying the theory into the real world,” he says.
“When I just learned Python and Java, I created a Python game and an Android application. When I learned about HTML and CSS, I built up my own website.”
All these skills he acquired from UCIC, CCEL and the University of Canterbury didn’t go unnoticed by employers, as Nam has since secured a job at software development company FIS in Christchurch even before he officially graduated.
Pathway programmes with practical experience
For instance, the UTP Product Design (Industrial Product Design) programme is great for students who want to learn how to create useful and modern products which have appealing aesthetic and practical functions.
Whereas the UTP Engineering programme is ideal for those who want to be future creators of new and innovative technologies and creative problem-solvers.
All UTPs at UCIC are great springboards for ambitious high school students wanting to get a head start on their studies. Indeed, Bong Chin Yit (Aaron) from Malaysia, who opted for a UTP in Science, chose UCIC for precisely this reason to kickstart his software engineering career.
But he discovered so much more than that since arriving in New Zealand on a cold winter day.
He received a lovely welcome and orientation programme from UCIC’s staff who warmed his heart. According to Aaron, the teachers were very passionate and experienced. They always tried to make sure that students understood everything and encouraged them to think critically.
UCIC staff also assisted Aaron in adapting to a new culture as well as with practical matters such as visa renewals, academic planning, exam arrangements and tips on exploring Christchurch and New Zealand.
“They were warm, friendly and genuinely cared about my wellbeing”, Aaron shared.
Did his programme live up to his expectations academically? For Aaron, the answer is a resounding yes.
“The foundation programme was very comprehensive and gave me sufficient preparation and confidence to continue my studies at UC,” he said.
“All the skills I acquired in UCIC, such as academic writing, business writing, programming fundamentals and statistics were very useful when I studied in UC and I still use those skills today.”
Now, Aaron also works at FIS as a software engineer after graduating with his Bachelor of Computer Science.
“In the workplace, you are bound to meet and work with people with different cultural backgrounds, so UCIC was an ideal place for me to learn to understand and adapt to different cultures.”
UCIC’s students can access UC’s campus facilities. These include the UC Student Association building, UC gym or recreation centre, community garden, library spaces, computer labs, the university bookshop, and a social club otherwise known as “The Shilling Club”. There are a range of social and academic support services they can use.
English language learning support that lasts
If any international students need extra English language learning before joining UCIC and UC, the CCEL College of English provides on-campus English language courses.
From learning day-to-day conversational skills to academic writing, there’s a class to suit all.
Plus, UCIC and CCEL College of English are classed as “Category 1” education providers by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) which means that NQZA is ‘Highly Confident’ in the Colleges’ outstanding educational performances and self-assessment processes.
This high rating also means that students who have enrolled in a Category 1 School and hold a student visa can work part-time if they’re enrolled on a full-time course of 14 weeks or longer.
Ellen, a UTP in Commerce student from Indonesia, is one of the many students who are satisfied with UCIC’s English language learning support.
It has improved her communication skills tremendously, so much so that she even won one of UC International First Year Scholarships.
“UCIC helped me to transition from high school life to university life with all their facilities and support,” she said.
“The lecturers are passionate about what they do, I get to take scenic road trips with my friends and it feels like every corner of New Zealand came straight out of a painting!”
So by combining their professional English language lessons with their university pathway programmes, international students enjoy an immersive student life experience that leads to career opportunities in New Zealand and beyond.
If this sounds like the ideal international study package, go ahead and find out how you can fast-track your future with UCIC today!