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The 2019 New College Student Conference is set to take place on 1st Feb. The annual event invites student reps and ambassadors to come together to take part in workshops and tasks in order to share their ideas and views on how to improve the college experience.

Around fifty students will gather on the day, which will take place in the college’s large conference room. Hospitality students are involved in planning the conference, from arranging guest speakers, to providing catering and goodie bags. The day is set to kick off at 10am with a key note speech from Robert Buckland MP.  A Dragons’ Den style task will then follow on from this, as well as workshops throughout the day; topics will include employability and engagement.

The Dragons’ Den segment of the day will see student groups from the New College Taskforce initiative present their visions to a panel. The student-led Taskforce groups select a topic or aspect of college they would like to positively change for the benefit of all students and staff; and in some cases the wider community. There are four groups, which include, Fundraising, Enrichment, Environment and Mental Health. 

Each group will be pitching their ideas to the panel of Dragons, which is made up of both internal senior staff and external business professionals. The panel will include Carole Kitching – Principal and CEO of New College, Russell Fisher – Head of Ventures, Nationwide Building Society, James Phipps – Executive Chairman, Excalibur Communications and Robert Buckland – QC and Local MP. The Dragons will be assessing the students’ ideas, implementation plans, risk analysis and financial planning, as well as their presentation, rapport building and communication skills. The strongest team will be awarded a £1000 cheque by the college, which will be used to fund the project and ideas delivered in their pitch.

Joanna Saunders, Enrichment Coordinator at New College said: “New College has a very strong commitment to its students and developing ways of ‘hearing’ what they have to say. It’s amazing that leading national businesses and well-respected professionals are willing to support this initiative and have agreed to take part in our final Dragon’s Den judging panel. Our Taskforce students will also have the added pressure of delivering their pitches at the New College’s Annual Student Conference under the watchful eye of their fellow students." 

Ahead of the big day, Taskforce groups were given the opportunity to take part in a workshop, delivered by representatives from the Strategic, Innovation & Venturing team at Nationwide. The workshop theme was ‘how to master the art of delivering winning business pitches’. It covered the skill involved in creating persuasive content, how to perfect delivery style, build rapport with the panel and how to answer tricky questions.

Julia Hoskins, Employability and Community Learning Manager: “Pitching is a valuable business and life skill. The workshop was a fantastic opportunity for our students to gain real employability skills for the workplace. Being able to pitch your ideas to prospective clients, senior managers or a ‘Dragons’ Den’ are great skills to learn, so we are extremely grateful to Nationwide for providing the training to support our students in achieving their ambitions.