Birmingham students receive rare insight into world of international trade

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Budding student entrepreneurs in Birmingham are taught how to navigate the UK's import-export business.

By U2B Staff 

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A different kind of partnership between the University of Birmingham and the Department for International Trade (DIT) gives students rare industry knowledge on the world of international trade.

Through the partnership, a Midlands-based team of DIT experts in language, culture, digital and intellectual property delivers a 10-week credit-bearing modern languages module to the university’s second-year students.

The enterprise module covers a broad range of exporting topics from international market selection to finance, product innovation and business culture.


The first year of the programme saw great success, according to a press release. Feedback from the first batch of 14 students who participated in the module was overwhelmingly positive.

Students rated the module 4.6 out of 5, calling it a “wonderful opportunity” and how having real industry experts take the lead “made it even more interesting as it was more relatable to real life scenarios and will definitely help me in the future”. 

“The module is a chance to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new in a supportive setting,” said Verity Parkin, who completed the module last year as part of the 2nd year of her BA Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences degree.

“It was valuable hearing from different speakers from DIT each week as they each gave their individual perspective on the world of exporting,” she adds.

“It has increased my confidence in possibly working in the business sector in the future. I have recently been exploring starting up an ethical clothing business (through the University’s B-Start Up programme) and taking this module has helped me to see the possibilities for exporting products in the future if the venture is successful.”

With the positive feedback, the university is expecting the number of students taking the module next year to more than double.

Ian Harrison, who is DIT’s Head of Exports for the Midlands Regions, said with the appetite for British-made goods and services growing across the world, it was vital for the workforce of the future to have an understanding of how the world of international trade works. 

This is especially necessary for budding entrepreneurs looking to start their own brands and businesses, and who might want to tap into overseas demand.

“By working with the University of Birmingham, we’re able to bring real-life experiences and insight into the lecture hall to give tomorrow’s business leaders the best grounding for international success,” he said.


In addition to that, this embedded, highly-focused and contextualised approach to enterprise education help boost student employability. The university believes enterprise education is most effective when it is delivered through experiential learning and authentic assessment, which means working with local and regional partners to teach students entrepreneurial skills.

This suite of skills include, among others, creative thinking, resilience, independent learning and using resources in the best possible way.

According to the school, the partnership was the brainchild of its careers department, Careers Network, as well as leading academics.

Helen Hook, Enterprise Educator at the university, said:

“We work closely with industry partners to co-design modules which ensure that Birmingham’s graduates are work-ready, enterprising, creative and transformative thinkers.”