The further education centre that last year set up the country's first rock music management course has now worked out how to attract new students to further education. The answer lies very much in the cards: tarot cards to be precise.
Kevin Palmer, director of Kingsway Centre in Swansea, the open access unit of Swansea College, said that its ten-week non-vocational"Introduction to tarot" course is just one of a series of initiatives to get new learners through the doors of the centre, with the hope that some of them will stay on for more conventional qualification-led courses.
New courses this year in the centre's alternative cultures section include introductions to astrology, Islam, and oriental philosophy. Unlike further education vocational courses, these alternative courses attract no public subsidy and have to meet strict budgetary demands. There must be at least ten students per session. The tarot course is already on budget.
Dr Palmer's policy is to encourage Postgraduate Certificate of Education students from the main Swansea College campus to design the centre's new courses and whenever possible to deliver them. For those who participate, the project forms part of their PGCE work.
The tarot-reading course has been designed by psychology graduate and PGCE student Jodie Bexter. Ms Bexter has thoroughly researched the history of tarot reading for the course and will explain to students the various systems of meanings that can be attributed to the cards.
Dr Palmer said: "Including subjects such as astrology and tarot in our courses is not intended to validate them. We are only describing their history and systems. Never the less I have had to draw the line at a course on the occult. My directors would not support its inclusion. I have not had any complaints about the astrology or tarot, yet."
A further card up Dr Palmer's sleeve is the plan from mid-January onwards to allow students to attend on Sundays, when the centre is already open to members of the local Chinese community for Mandarin and English courses.