Full circle: NIC grad Albert completes his degree


Albert Ronquillo from the Philippines is a former NIC student who has recently graduated UON with a Bachelor of Information Technology. We sat down with Albert on the day he officially received notification that he had successfully completed his undergraduate degree.

How did you come to choose Newcastle? 

Honestly, at first I was looking at Darwin. Then I saw an ad on YouTube [for UON] and I was blown away and ever since I wanted to go to the University of Newcastle. I wanted to study there.

You started with NIC. How was your time there?

NIC was my first family here. It’s a good place to start. The staff will introduce you to everything, all the good bits. They will advise you where to go, what activities are happening, and help you with your academics. You don’t always get that at the uni.At NIC I felt much closer to the staff and the other students. You can ask them questions anytime you want and sometimes get food from them actually!

What did you think about living and studying in Newcastle?

We’re in a bushland campus but if you go to the city it’s very modern. It is like a country environment within a modern city. People here are so polite and greet you anytime and any place you go. I made a few friends, mainly locals, and a lot of my friends are Filipinos. They’re everywhere! If you want to meet them either you are in uni or you need a basketball court.

Did you work part time while you were studying?

I did a part-time job cleaning. It’s not what I usually do back home where I have a steady job but it suited me. The pay was good and I was able to manage my time.

What kind of accommodation did you have? 

I lived in a share house for two years. They were good students and no trouble. That’s the most important thing. There was free wifi, free food sometimes. Stove, electricity, water. And it’s cheap. Pretty much anywhere around the uni you can find accommodation. There are a lot of new buildings. Across the street you can find many boarding houses too.

Congratulations on finishing your degree! How do you feel?

So happy. It’s such a relief after the cycle of study, sleep, eat. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel and a gift after that, so pursue! Pursue the dream.

We wish Albert the best of luck as he pursues his dreams. Don’t forget to come back and visit!



Full circle: NIC grad Albert completes his degree

Building Barista Skills with NIC

Header NIC

Australians are a coffee-drinking nation, and if you want to find work as a barista then you’d better know your cappuccinos from your flat whites. Not only that, you’d better be able to make them look and taste great.

NIC barista course
Learn by doing.

Newcastle’s coffee culture is strong, with local cafes in every suburb whipping up gourmet brews to suit every taste. The UON is no exception, with at least six cafes and two coffee carts on campus! (Insider tip: NIC staff love the GT Bar, which has Glee coffee on offer, a Newcastle favourite.)

NIC organises barista courses several times per year. Students receive a discount and have the opportunity to spend an afternoon learning the ins and outs of how to make a coffee using a professional grade machine. This is a fun experience for people who are looking to build their barista skills or for those who just love a good coffee.

NIC barista course
Ross from the Coffee School teaches our students how to make a mean coffee.

Our students broke into groups and started slow, learning the process step-by-step. Before you can make a coffee, first you have to understand what the different types of coffee are, how to produce an espresso, foam the milk, and pour the milk.

NIC Barista
They already look like professionals.
NIC students barista course
I’ll have a cappuccino please.
NIC Barista course
Caffeine bonanza.

Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to coffee. Without experience it is very difficult to get a job as a barista, which is why the Newcastle Coffee School is a great way of getting started. At the end of the class students received a Barista Level 1 Certificate of Completion, which they can now reference on their resume.

NIC barista class
Make mine a double.
Barista course NIC
Great job ladies!

The next barista class is likely to occur early next year, so keep your eyes peeled for more information on the NIC noticeboard.

Building Barista Skills with NIC

Meet Our Lecturers: Ben Treverton

NIC is truly an international college. In fact, nearly 90% of the NIC staff are not originally from Newcastle! The city has a way of attracting people from all over the world, including lecturer Ben Treverton. From the UK, he has been living in Newcastle for about 5 years.

Meet Ben Treverton
Meet Ben Treverton

Subjects taught at NIC: Communication Skills

Languages spoken: English, French, Spanish plus a teeny tiny bit of Korean and Swahili

What do you like about teaching Communication Skills? 

I love seeing students improve and find new confidence in their communication abilities. I also love communicating with and learning about my students; I’m always fascinated where they’re from and why they’re studying in Newcastle.

When I was a student, my favourite subject was:

Music. I play piano and guitar.

What is the most unusual job you’ve ever had?

About 15 years ago, I was a teacher in a high school in rural Ghana. I held this job for 2 years, in a very remote village with no running water, hardly any electricity and a lot of monkeys and snakes. Life was very different (I had to cycle 60km to buy potatoes) and basic (no mobile phones; no computers; no windows in classrooms) but I just loved it. My students were great, hardworking teenagers and the villagers were always friendly and welcoming. I was very sad to leave.

In my free time I like to…

Go for walks with my wife Benieke, play on the beach with my two children (Finn is 1, Saba is 5) and watch movies.

My favourite place to eat in Newcastle is Talulah’s in The Junction and I always order from their specials menu.

What advice do you have for international students in Australia?

Join a club or society that interests you (a sports club, a film club, an acting club, etc.) – it’s a perfect way to meet local people and become part of Newcastle life. This will help your language skills improve as you make new friends, plus it will mean you’re interacting with Australian culture outside of university life; getting the most out of your time here.

Meet Our Lecturers: Ben Treverton

Meet the NIC Staff: Imogen Harris-McNeill, Student Experience Coordinator

Imogen Harris-McNeill, Student Experience Coordinator
Imogen Harris-McNeill, Student Experience Coordinator

If you’re a current NIC student you’ve probably already met Imogen, Student Experience Coordinator. She’s the person who plans student excursions throughout the trimester (and does lots of other things too!), so if there’s something you’re interested in doing, stop by reception and let her know.

Languages spoken:  English and Spanish.

Where are you from and how long have you lived in Newcastle?

I was born in far north Queensland, but grew up in Sydney. I have lived in Newcastle since October 2014 and have been working at NIC since I moved up here.

What’s your favourite place on campus?

In summer, my favourite place on campus is probably the tables outside the GP building. It’s always shady there and I can watch the cockatoos that live in a tree nearby as I eat my lunch. In the colder months the Derkenne Courtyard in the Shortland Building is a great place to soak up the winter sun.

What’s your favourite place in Newcastle?

It’s a toss-up between The Press bookshop (for the perfect combination of second-hand books and brilliant coffee), the Queens Wharf Hotel (for the amazing view of Newcastle Harbour at sunset) and Nobby’s beach/headland (for walking down, swimming at, or generally lazing about on).  Oh and the ANZAC walk is pretty spectacular too (for the view!).

In my free time I like to…

Get out and explore Newcastle as much as possible. I haven’t lived here very long and I’m still finding new and exciting things to do. I often head to the Hunt & Gather or Olive Tree markets when they’re on. Or I can be found at one of Newcastle’s many beaches or parks (usually reading and/or picnicking).

The most unusual job I’ve ever had was…

A volunteer for a charity. I was once asked to wash a life sized statue of Santa Claus. This involved undressing him (in public).

The best advice I have ever received is to…

Take chances and do things that take you outside of your comfort zone.

Meet the NIC Staff: Imogen Harris-McNeill, Student Experience Coordinator

Managing the Organisation: A Country Excursion

Practical learning is a critical component of education, whether you’re studying to be a doctor or an accountant. Internships and work placements allow students to get some hands-on experience during their university studies, but at NIC there are additional opportunities for interactive learning.

Diploma of Business and Commerce students have the opportunity to join their lecturer John Dugas on an excursion to the country. This isn’t just a day of eating great food and having adventures (though that’s part of it), but an avenue for learning about local small businesses and cooperatives. Students from IRHR1001: Managing the Organisation get to see just what it means to run a business on a day-to-day basis.

The first stop is Stroud, an historic town in regional New South Wales about an hour’s drive north of Newcastle. NIC students visit local businesses to gain a perspective on the practical aspects of what they’re learning about in class.

The bus then continues to John’s farm and vineyard, a working farm where students get a firsthand glimpse of what it’s like to manage and run your own agricultural business. The verdict? It’s hard work, but rewarding.This is one case study that we’d be happy to do more than once 🙂

NIC students in Stroud
Visiting a local cafe in Stroud
NIC students tractor
NIC students try their hand at a riding mower- don’t worry, it’s safe!
NIC students stream
Cooling off at the stream
NIC students visit goats
No farm visit is complete without a few inquisitive goats.
NIC students ride a motorcycle
Don’t try this at home!
NIC students harvest eggs
Fresh eggs, anyone?
Lunch at John's Farm
Lunchtime! Looks delicious. (Thanks to Sheryar Sams for the photo!)
NIC students wine tasting
So sophisticated.
Sunset in Stroud
Sunset over John’s farm.
bonfire NIC
Darkness = bonfire time.
Managing the Organisation: A Country Excursion

Student Spotlight: Vanessa from Colombia

Meet NIC graduate Vanessa!

If you see her on campus, say hello 🙂

NIC Student Vanessa Sarmiento

From: Colombia
NIC course: Tertiary Preparation Program (TPP)
UON course: Bachelor of Science

What is your dream job?

Investigation, in any field of biology. I haven’t decided yet, to be honest!

Where is the best place on campus to…

Study? Auchmuty Library, I’m pretty much always there during the week. And even when I don’t feel like studying, as soon as I get in I feel pressured to stop being lazy and study like the rest!

Meet friends? I live on campus so I think anyplace is a good place, but Shortland is a good place to just hang out.

Get a bite to eat? Shortland has a lot of places, but my favourite is Bar on the Hill for wonderful hamburgers and juices.

What food do you miss most from home? 

I really miss arepas, but I can always get them next to Central Station.

If people from overseas visited you in Newcastle, where would you take them? 

I love the beaches here, so that would be the first place. Also, Honeysuckle is always a good place to have dinner or drinks with friends.

How do you spend your time outside NIC? 

I love to dance and to talk, so I’m either clubbing or in a restaurant with friends.

What advice would you give future students?

Enjoy NIC as much as you can, meet people from different countries, and study hard!

Student Spotlight: Vanessa from Colombia

Meet our lecturers: Dr. Claus Mueller

Get to know the NIC lecturers! Today we’re featuring Dr. Claus Mueller. If you take a maths class at NIC, you may become one of his students. Here are some things you may not know about Claus…

Subjects taught: Maths

Claus, maths lecturer at NIC
Meet Dr. Claus Mueller

Languages spoken: German and English

What do you like about teaching maths?

I love to convince some students that maths is actually fun.

When I was a student, my favourite subject was…

Maths (surprise surprise), chemistry, physics. Hated sports.

What is the most unusual job you’ve ever had? 

Cutting copper plates.

In my free time I like to:

Watch documentaries, write on my book.

How long have you been in Newcastle? 

I was born in Germany and have been living in Newcastle since 2002.

My favourite place to eat in Newcastle is Scratchley’s at the Wharf and I always order the lobster.


Meet our lecturers: Dr. Claus Mueller