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Teaching Tourism At Leeds Met

Image: Alumni general

The People Who Made The Course ....

.... What It Was. And I mean the tutors and students, probably as much the students than the tutors. So that's why these photos are mainly of students. They're now spread round the country and indeed the world, doing jobs in tourism or in other industries, raising families, caring for people, doing voluntary work at home and abroad. Making an enormous contribution in a thousand ways. Since 1992 there have been over a thousand students on the course - 1,200-plus might be more accurate, though some people left early, moved to a different course, were replaced by others who came in just for a year or two. So above is just a fraction of them. The photos show people at the summer balls that used to be a feature of the course; one shows a small group in Finland on exchange for a semester; others were taken at end of course dinners and lunches. One was taken in March 2003 at the end of a tourism course reunion that attracted over 70 ex-students back to Leeds. The group with badges had just presented their report at the end of the Industrially Hosted Project module (Tourism Consultancy Ventures nowadays). Those with beer glasses were at a general course social in a crowd of 150 from across the whole course.

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Nostalgic '96

A student asked me when I retired if I felt emotional about reaching retirement after seventeen years of teaching at Leeds Met. I said yes and no: sad to be leaving something I loved doing but not at all sad to be leaving system in which education has become more of a production line. It did make me think that our existing students as well as our alumni might find some brief reminiscences about the Tourism course interesting - and nostalgic for those who took part. Some of the changes become clearer.

Above is the group who graduated back in 1996 and some of their number in more recent years. They are Amin Abdullah, back home in Malaysia, Pippa Gilligan, Rachel Bywater, Cathy Newton, Suzannah Fenwick, and Mark Fisher. News of these and many other ex-students appears on the Alumni News page of this web site.

This was the 'guinea-pig group' that started in September 1992 in Carnegie Hall at Beckett Park, now termed the Headingley Campus. Besides myself the basic team of tutors was just three - Irena Snowden, Keith Hollinshead and myself. An HND course ran at Wakefield College for two years under Tim Pavour. There were ten modules per year rather than eight, which allowed a finer definition of subjects and arguably demanded more work! Everyone went to Scarborough for a three-day residential with lectures, visits, evening work sessions and social activities. Scarborough worked so well that the group asked if we could do another trip and as a result we went to Edinburgh later in the year for two nights. Scarborough was a regular fixture until student numbers made it impracticable - even Edinburgh popped up again for the next student group on the course. Lectures and seminars drew on tutors from the Leisure Studies course such as John Spink and from the Business School like Tim Birtwhistle. Everyone did a foreign language and everyone did a placement. Susannah Fenwick said she came back three years older, it was such a strong developmental experience.

This was a strong, lively cohort who organised their own dinner-dance at the end of the course. It was held at the Craiglands Hotel in Ilkley and attended by students from other years besides the graduating one.

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Tourism at Leeds Met Alumni - Nostalgia for '97

Above is the second graduating class of the course. Besides the group photo this was the year when the custom started of everyone meeting up for a last lunch before setting off - everywhere. Tutor John Spink joined others (he's the distinguished grey-haired gent in a blue shirt at the bottom right) at a bar in town. Many of those in the photos are mentioned on the Alumni News page of this web site. Careers were made in tourism - Sue and Sally joined Sportsworld and worked on all kinds of international gatherings including the Olympics: Joanna became a member of airline cabin crew, others went in to general travel operations, tourist attractions and hotel marketing. Others used their management training and growing life experience in non-tourism job including counselling and community activities.

At that time the University was converting buildings on the Headingley Campus at Beckett Park from teaching and residential units to teaching only. The University was growing, having changed its status from polytechnic in February 1993. In 1992 we were in the Carnegie Hall. This year saw us open in temporary space at the back of the main, James Graham Building, which itself would undergo many changes. Teaching accommodation was cramped and tutors in open plan offices. Even with relatively small numbers the effect was to create teaching and pastoral care problems. Space was limited and also often had to be booked, even for dealing with thosae little emergencies which crop up regularly. In later years we would hear of the University of Bickeringham which introduced a call centre to manage its hundreds of students trying to ask their tutors a question or two. It placed a reception desk between the teachers and the taught. Open plan became the managerial fashion with the inevitable open access to every private conversation around. We were glad we would soon be returning to a proper system in our next home, Fairfax Hall.

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Nostalgic for '98

The 1998 graduating class had their academic life in Fairfax Hall back in '94. It was in 1995 that the course moved to the City Campus, supposedly for one year before going back to Beckett Park. That move turned out to be non-existent and Tourism would stay in the City until this coming summer of 2009, a move planned to last only one year before transferring to a building due to be added to the Headingley Sports Stadium complex.

At the end of the final year the students took themselves to a bar in town for lunch, this time very informal and still as relaxed and sociable as ever. This year they held a summer ball at the Queens Hotel. It was memorable not only for the dinner and the dancing but also for the way it ended. Virtually every student was there at 2:30, circling round, wishing each other well for the future and bidding what for some were tearful goodbyes. Within a few hours some had flown out of the UK to new jobs or summer holidays. Amongst those in the photos are people who would start new lives in the United States, Spain and New Zealand besides others in Europe and the UK. Several are mentioned on the Alumni News page here.

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Nostalgic '99

OK, OK, it's not quite the same sort of photo group. Ten years ago, this was the fourth group of students to complete the course. They gathered for the traditional celebratory lunch at what used to be the Rat and Parrot. I took photos as usual but on print film and to be honest they were not my best effort. So rather than present a collection of shaky and fuzzy student pictures, it's time for a quick memory of parts of the City Campus. After all, F building, unloved architecturally but engraved forever in our collective consciousness, should be going within a year. The mezzanine floor, scene of many an informal meeting; Calverley Street entrance and coffee break area; the Dry Dock canal barge come pub across Woodhouse Lane; the main entrance opposite the Dry Dock, and of course F Building itself. But higher education is about people, not grey concrete rendering.

Like all UK tourism courses a large proportion of our exes went in to the industry, but almost an equal number didn't. It's as if they took a management and self-development course with tourism as the focus to make it interesting. There has always been a large percentage of women on the course. It could be argued that doing this kind of degree or diploma is a way of opening up doors into management for them. May be a way of cracking open the glass ceiling?

Of those in the picture, there were people who went to work in marketing at Boots head office; two, at least, in ski resorts; one took up a senior administrative post in a Norwegian airline; one went as a trek manager with an adventure holiday compnay, another in to business-to-business services in the far east. Another joined the post office while a friend of hers set up a business arranging weddings. One of the group took up a marketing post in sports tourism in a Caribbean country. An interesting career was that of one of the women who worked in tourism and decided to pursue a different career: she took a degree in civil engineering and that's what she does now: like all of them, constructing a career and a life stretching successfully beyond Leeds Met.

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Terrific 2000!

Heavy rain made it impossible to get a photo immediately after the final exam sat by the 2000 cohort and so we had to make do with one outside the Town Hall in November when the Awards Ceremony took place. This group achieved some of the highest award classifications ever and from memory I think there were 14 first class dissertations amongst the honours.

It was part the International Tourism Management group of students who made the first residential visit to Malta in 1997. The small-group photo above - right-hand end - is of them at a lecture at the University of Malta and the one on the right was taken in a bar on the last night. The Malta visit was introduced thanks to the work of Peter Dewhurst, Helen Horobin and Andrew Eaglen, with myself joining the first visit and taking over the organisation after that. Complemented by a low-cost, Leeds or York-based field week in later years it gave the chance to study tourism and to get to know other people. Both versions combined lectures, visits and field work with evening workshops followed by plenty of socialising, in the tradition which had been established by earlier visits to Scarborough and Edinburgh.

Others went the following year - what we used to call the BA Tourism Management group who were on a slightly different timetable.

As usual the members of the class of 2000 are now spread round the globe as well as across the UK, working for prestigious organisations like the Economist magazine and Thomas Cook as well as in travel and hotel operations, teaching, IT and financial services.

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Class of 2004

Some of them at least - plus Annemarie Piso with her children.

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Class of 2005

From the photos displayed at the pre-retirement party. Can be downloaded - hover your cursor over the piccy and choose 'save to file'.

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Look Back At Blackpool

Some more reflection on the recent past of the Tourism course. The group above - most of whom have just (2009) completed their final year - was on a one-day visit to Blackpool in 2007. There was a short social gathering in Yates's Wine Bar, a well-known Blackpool landmark on Talbot Square which was sadly burnt down earlier this year. Their visit was in March and the weather was not at its best - cold and windy with waves breaking against the sea wall. The tram system was being maintained so was not running. On the other hand many students went into the Tower Ballroom where old-time dancing was in progress in its magnificent setting. Others took a trip to the top of the Tower or along the promenade. For most, though, the fun of a social occasion getting to know other students and tutors was the highlight.

Image: Graduation 2007

Celebrations in 2007

The Diploma and Degree students after receiving their well-deserved awards in July 2007 at the Headingley Campus.

[Postings are being moved to this page from the May '09 blog page]

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