By Eddie Allnutt, Photo by Ana Galloway
Full speed ahead for canny Scot
Liam Sloan, NMIT’s Director of Learning, Teaching and Quality, isn’t shy of a challenge. The Scotsman not only represented his country in badminton, he represented England in dressage as well. After being written off by his teachers at high school, Liam is grateful that tertiary education opened doors for him, and since his first role in education management at Britain’s esteemed Barnsley College, he’s been dedicated to driving improvements that are beneficial to both students and staff.
What are a few things that have happened at NMIT since you started in 2016, Liam?
Gone are the days of ‘chalk and talk’. Today it’s a blended learning approach with more courses available online, so it suits the students’ flexible lifestyles. Besides constantly revising programmes, we’re developing many new ones so the education that learners receive here is industry-relevant and up-to-date. We’ve continued to increase our research outputs at NMIT. This is a priority to ensure our teachers are at the forefront of their game and able to anticipate change.
In maritime, we have invested heavily in a bridge simulator. It’s cutting-edge technology and lets students realistically manoeuvre large vessels, even docking in ports like Nelson or Sydney.
Do you get to meet the students?
The best part of my job is meeting with students – I love it. When I accepted the role, I made a pledge to myself to get out and about, so I’ve introduced ‘learning walks’. Fortnightly, I visit classrooms with Student President Abbey Paterson to talk with the students and experience what’s happening. Then we share feedback with the relevant staff to celebrate and share successes and learn what things could be made better.
What do you do outside of work?
Nelson is quirky and I enjoy living close to the beach, although I do miss the buzz of a big city. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a shopaholic so I miss the UK for that – thank goodness for online shopping. Another plus of living on the other side of the world is that it has opened up new areas of travel that, for me, weren’t so accessible before. I’ve also joined Victory Boxing and Nelson Badminton.
Are tertiary students different in the UK?
I find students are generally more respectful here. More are paying for their education and know what they want to achieve. They buckle down and get on with it. I like how students at NMIT want to be part of the solution and have a say in what’s going on, or the shaping of their campus.
Challenges that you face?
I do miss my mum and my close friends back home. Here I have to build up a totally new network.
No two days are the same at NMIT, but hey, that’s exciting. I set myself high expectations and my philosophy is that students deserve the best, and to follow your dream and never think that anything is out of reach.