In 2015, Glasgow Kelvin College, a further education college located in Scotland, and the Government Polytechnic for Women in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India were awarded funding to support an educational partnership in garment design and manufacturing. This funding came through a partnership between two governmental organisations from the UK and India: the UK India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
At the outset, this programme was learner centred, with all activities designed to enhance the learning experience of Indian and Scottish students as well as staff. It was this learner centred approach that made the programme such a success and ensured that its outcomes would be sustainable for a considerable period of time.
The aim of this project was to generate unique learning outcomes for Scottish and Indian students and staff. This would be achieved through a programme of staff and student visits to India and Scotland, as well as extensive dialogue and co-operation via on-line systems and using virtual learning tools.
The garment design theme of the project was based on both sets of students working together to design and produce a garment collection that reflected both Indian and Scottish design themes. Central to the design theme was the 'Paisley pattern' – this is an iconic international design that originated in India and was made famous by weavers from the town of Paisley in Scotland. At the end of the project, the achievements of the students were celebrated in fashion shows in India and Scotland that showcased the designs they created and produced. These shows attracted the attention of the national press. The title of these shows was ‘Bombay Mix’.
What the project achieved
At a technical level, Glasgow Kelvin College changed its fashion and design curriculum to reflect the new skills that had been learned in India. These skills related to the specialist techniques used in the design and hand manufacturing of Indian garments. The Government Polytechnic for Women in Guntur developed new skills in the use of on line and virtual design software that will be applied and reflected in their curriculum.
However, the project achieved much more than just these technical skills. Six students and four staff from Glasgow Kelvin College spent a week in India working closely with their colleagues from the Government Polytechnic. Here, they gained a unique insight into a new culture and developing relationships. This has helped develop their personal skills and employability skills that will be of significant benefit when they enter the jobs market.
Soon after the visit to India, staff from India visited Scotland for a week of intense learning activity. During this week, they engaged with Glasgow Kelvin College classes, visited employers and met with a Scottish Government Minister. This visit culminated in the Scottish fashion show, where, as with India, the students’ designs were showcased to the public and the Scottish media.
Carrying on the learner centred approach, Glasgow Kelvin College students planned all aspects of this show. That included students studying events management, sound production, television, music and performance, hair, beauty and hospitality, as well as fashion and design students. This approach meant that staff from across the college also became involved. Altogether, around 150 students from Glasgow Kelvin College and 30 staff delivered this show, all of which generated learning outcomes.
The Scottish Government’s education inspection body, Education Scotland, rated this project as ‘Exceptional’ – an accolade that is rarely achieved.
Overall, the project has shown that, regardless of geography, poverty, infrastructure or social barriers, learning and sharing knowledge is the most powerful way to develop individuals, communities and economies.
Glasgow Kelvin College have also produced a short video discussing the show with key contributors.