GoAbroad Interview

Steve Whalley - Commercial Manager

Steve Whalley - Commercial Manager

Although Steve’s role at Nottingham Trent University is quite multifaceted, he truly enjoys the time he gets to spend interacting with international students, especially those interested in the arts. A professor of art and design for 20 years, he has quite a knack for collecting art as much as he has for educating students. Although he spent over 15 years teaching in London, he is originally from Nottingham and enjoys working and living in his hometown. Steve enjoys sharing his passion for art with students, whether their interests lie in fashion, theater design, animation, or anything in between.

How did you begin your professional relationship with Nottingham Trent University?

Nottingham’s my home town, and I think it’s great. When I saw this role being advertised at NTU, I knew it was my chance to continue working in art and design education at a university with amazing facilities and a really lively student community, and enjoy everything the city has to offer again.

Summer study abroad students at Nottingham Trent University

Steve (far left) with a group of U.S. summer study abroad students in 2015

What do you love most about your job?

I get to meet a lot of students, and I’m always amazed how confident they are. I would’ve been rubbish doing what they’re doing when I was their age. My favourite thing is the “meet and greets” when students arrive, and trying to work out which ones are going to be the most fun. It’s sometimes the quiet ones that end up having the best time.

You enjoy helping study abroad students make the most of their time in Nottingham. What makes studying abroad at Nottingham Trent University unique?

There’s a real sense of community at NTU. Unlike some other universities, you feel that the students all know each other and have created their own specialist interest groups for socialising and events. All the things to do around the subject (outside of the core curriculum) is what makes NTU special.

Why is Nottingham a great place for international students to immerse in the British way of life?

We’re the home of Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest, Wollaton Hall (Wayne Manor in Batman: the Dark Knight Rises), and Lord Byron, so there are plenty of traditions to discover, but it’s also a very contemporary city. The Creative Quarter is home to lots of small design businesses, and there are art galleries and cultural events to get involved in, so plenty to do for the creative student. Places like Lee Rosy’s tea rooms, Jam Café, Rock City, and the caves in Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub will be on your list, and all these are walkable from NTU.

Nottingham’s also one of the best connected cities in the UK. You can be in London, the coast, or visiting any of the UK’s attractions within a very quick and easy train ride.

The Arkwright buildings at Nottingham Trent University

The Arkwright buildings at Nottingham Trent University

Photo Credit: Steve Whalley

What type of support do international students receive from Nottingham Trent University during their stay?

Other than our team who help with enrollments and arrival, we also have a special student support team. They help with visas, housing, finances, and help them meet other students. Tutors and administrators are also very used to welcoming new students from overseas, so once they’ve arrived and met this team they’ll feel at home.

The Global Lounge is a place to go to hang out, and the Student’s Union (voted the best in the UK in 2015) has more clubs and events than you’ll know what to do with; with a bit of planning, you definitely won’t be bored.

As a lover of all things art and design, why would you encourage art and design students to study abroad at NTU?

Feedback from previous study abroad students is that we have amazing facilities. Our knitwear, casting, model making, virtual reality lab, and photography darkrooms (to name just a few) are excellent, and will make a real difference to your studies. Our technicians, working alongside the academic staff, help students create the best work, and that is why NTU students are winning national student competitions each year.

How do you think studying abroad helps foster students’ creativity?

As well as new skills, new work for your portfolio and a more interesting resumé. Being in another country will give your art and design work a new perspective; as a new, emerging creative talent, this can only be a good thing. And of course, there’s a lot of fun to be had exploring a new country. I wish I’d done it when I was at uni.

What is your best piece of advice for students contemplating study abroad at NTU?

Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions! No question is too insignificant and we’ve heard most of them before. By asking plenty of questions you’ll get to know us, and vice versa, and it will mean your arrival will be trouble free.

Also, you can sleep when you get home. When you’re in the UK you should get up early, stay out late, get on a train, meet new people, and do things you’ve never done before, because once you’ve graduated these opportunities will be rare.

Textile design show at Nottingham Trent University

The BA (Hons) textile design degree show at Nottingham Trent University

Photo Credit: Steve Whalley

What is the most rewarding part about working for Nottingham Trent University?

I really enjoy the degree shows at the end of the year, and the interim shows that students host on and off campus. All the activity you’ve seen in the studios and workshops throughout the year come together. Each year is completely different and there are always a few surprises.