UCOL’s NZ Diploma in Architectural Technology and NZ Diploma in Construction classes have a distinctly international flavour this year, with 11 different nationalities represented.
UCOL Construction Programme Leader David Freebairn says this is the largest blend of cultures that the programmes have had.
The programmes include students originally from USA, the Philippines, Korea, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Cook Islands, India, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
The Architectural Technology and Construction diplomas have a lot of crossover in the first year, so students from the two programmes spend a lot of time together.
David says the students have built great comradery, and provide each other with support and peer tutoring.
"They've come together as one group and are working really well. It's been a steep learning curve for a lot of the students who have come from overseas because New Zealand buildings are different to what they have back in their home countries," says David.
"They only have concrete building in some cases, but here we have more timber, so for us it's about trying to get them to think in a different way."
Construction student James Kang came to study at UCOL after serving in the Korean army, and then teaching in China.
"I love this lifestyle. Korean lifestyle is so busy," says James about living in New Zealand.
After completing the New Zealand Certificate in English Language (Level 4), James enrolled in Construction due to the employment opportunities in the industry.
Baljot Singh came from India to study construction due to the employment possibilities.
"There is a lot of demand for construction workers in New Zealand, so I opted to come here to study construction."
Shujaat Aziuzullah moved to New Zealand from Pakistan three years ago, and has progressed to the New Zealand Diploma in Architectural Technology after completing the U-Skills Academy Applied Technology and Design programme while at Awatapu College. Like a lot of his classmates, Shurjaat is looking to stay and work in New Zealand after graduating.
The Architectural Technology and Construction diplomas have also seen an increase in female students this year, with a total of 18 compared to 12 last year.
One of those students, Trizia Castillo, says she chose to study Architectural Technology after enjoying learning about design at secondary school. Trizia says that having Architectural Technology available at UCOL suited her, as she didn't have to move away from her family in Palmerston North to study.
Photo: Students Baljot Singh (India), Shujaat Aziuzullah (Pakistan), Muhammad Yari (Afghanistan), and Trizia Castillo (Philippines) enjoy a shared lunch for the Construction and Architectural Technology classes