On the agenda: Mixed staff sentiment, better recognition, pressures on students, governmental blindspots and diversification

August 8, 2003

STAFF MORALE

Carol David, tourism course director at St Mary's College, University of Surrey
"It's a new area for us, so there's a lot of interest and curiosity to see how it develops to match what students want."

John Swarbrooke, principal lecturer in tourism management at Sheffield Hallam University
"Morale in the tourism area is good because of the growing demand and the motivation of the students. If you leave aside the usual frustrations of working in higher education, it's an attractive field to go into."

John Fletcher, head of the International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research at Bournemouth University
"The morale of all university staff in all subject areas is probably at an all-time low. The uncertainty created by the government in terms of the future of higher education, the future of research and the volatility of funding all conspire against achieving high levels of staff morale."

Robert Maitland, travel and tourism course leader at Westminster University
"Morale is pretty good in our team at Westminster - but it is obviously a struggle for academic staff in UK universities generally to retain a positive outlook. Continuing failure by governments to provide adequate funding, or to recognise success, accompanied by ill-informed soundbites about 'Mickey Mouse courses' and so on seem designed to depress morale."

Thea Sinclair, professor of the economics of tourism at the Christel DeHaan Tourism and Travel Research Institute at the University of Nottingham
"Staff morale at Nottingham is very high and this is reflected in high-calibre students who obtain exciting jobs in the tourism and travel industry and government."

HOW IS THE SUBJECT SEEN?

Mr Maitland, Westminster
"It is improving with increased recognition of the importance of the tourism industry, and as a more solid research base for the study of tourism develops. But some people still think it's candyfloss."

Professor Sinclair, Nottingham
"Nottingham has a very well integrated academic system, and tourism and travel teaching and research has received support at the highest levels of management as well as by the other academic divisions and schools within the university."

Adrian Clark of the Tourism Society
"There are people who say the last thing I want is a tourism graduate because they know nothing about it but the theory. But today's courses are often with something else, for example, geography."

Keith Wilkes, head of tourism, leisure and sport at Bournemouth
"Students are our best ambassadors. We've always had more placement offers than students. The industry by and large likes the students we produce.

Having said that, 60-70 per cent go into the industry while 30-40 per cent go elsewhere using their transferable skills."

QUALITY OF STUDENTS

Beulah Cope, senior lecturer in tourism at the University of the West of England
"We still maintain a good top end so it is a strong degree. But there is also a longer tail in the 2:2 and 3rd-class results. It's almost like you've got two blocks of students."

Nigel Jarvis, tourism course leader at Brighton University
"I get increasingly concerned about literacy skills of students coming into university."

Mr Maitland, Westminster
"We're unusual because we attract so many of our students from outside the UK, but I'd say they are as good or better than ten years ago. But most students are under so much more pressure now to do paid work along with their full-time studies, that it is increasingly hard to compare their achievements with their predecessors."

HOW DOES IT FIT INTO MINISTERS' FUTUREPLANS?

Eleri Jones, head of the Welsh School of Hospitality, Tourism andLeisure Management, University of Wales Institute Cardiff
"The government needs to put its money where its mouth is and put some formal money into development of research in the subject. Tourism contributes 5 per cent of GDP in England and Scotland and 8 per cent of GDP in Wales so it's a major economic sector and a major employer."

Chris Hall, International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research at Bournemouth University
"Charles Clarke's vision is predominantly one of triumphant vocationalism. Given that tourism is the largest employer worldwide, travel and tourism education feeds a substantial labour market. That said, some sectors such as hospitality seem to be declining in popularity despite an enormous demand for qualified managers. Clarke's vision isn't necessarily shared by our student applicants."

THE LONG VIEW

Susanne Baker, head of travel and tourism at Thames Valley University
"Providing we are helping students meet the skills employers want, and employers are part of the team, I think it's a well-placed field. One thing that is happening is that courses are diversifying into more specialisations. In terms of students, that's a good thing as it brings into focus what they are interested in."

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