The UK along with many other European countries had already been struggling to meet air quality standards agreed years ago with actions by the Commission against 18 member states.Of particular note are the new standards set for Nitrogen oxides and Particulates (PM2.5) which will be especially challenging.
Good practice exists particularly for some cities in continental Europe – the problem in the UK has long been a lack of political will to deal with the problem BUT radical measures will be needed to get the UK anywhere near to these standards and so reduce the 40,000 premature deaths due to air pollution which happen in the UK every year.
I started my journey at Staffordshire University studying a foundation degree in Visitor Attraction and Resort Management, a unique, bespoke course with Alton Towers Resort. I learnt a lot during my time studying at Staffordshire University, some standout modules for me were business development and hotel and hospitality. I was able to transfer knowledge learnt in the classroom to my placements at Alton Towers. While studying, and since I’ve graduated, I‘ve worked in a wide range of departments such as the Resort Box Office, Sea Life and Guest Excellence as well as working on large events such as Scarefest and Santa Sleepover. I loved working with customers and using my customer service skills to make sure guests had a magical visit at the Resort.
Once I completed my Foundation degree, I then decided to gain the full degree and studied for another year to gain a BA in Events Management. This was a step up and again a huge experience, with stand out memories such as when I got to plan and host my own virtual event to a live audience. We hosted the Staffordshire University Film Night, which streamed over Facebook and had a lot of viewers while raising money for our chosen charity Macmillan Cancer Support. Once I completed my full degree I started to apply for jobs. It has always been a dream to become a member of cabin crew. I used my academic and customer service skills from university and my placements to gain a place at the Ryanair training course. This was an intense training course which included both exams and practical training. After completing the training and becoming qualified to fly, I have now been to a wide range of destinations in Europe, and I really can’t wait to see where my future takes off now. This has been my dream for a long time, I am hugely proud to be flying with Ryanair, as well as being hugely grateful for the opportunities and experiences I have gained while working for Merlin Entertainments as well as studying with Staffordshire University.
Staffordshire University is my home university, and, in September, I’ll be heading into my third and final year of BA (Hons) Events Management. Having lived in Staffordshire for almost all my life, I’ve tried and tested the best places for students to eat, drink and visit, and I’m here to tell you all about them!
Let’s start with some on-campus student union run facilities
and the two favourite hangouts for my uni friends and I: Ember Lounge and
Squeeze Box. Ember
Lounge serves classic pub food and drinks and is the perfect place to spend a
break from studying or grab some food with friends after a day of lectures. Squeeze
Box is my favourite place to head for a bite to eat in the morning, along with
either a takeout coffee or one of their infamous freshly squeezed orange juices
Moving on, we have the lovely Trentham Estate, an important local attraction to mention for many reasons. Firstly, their Event Volunteer programme, if nobody has told you already, it won’t be long before your lecturers and industry pros are emphasising the importance of volunteering to gain experience ready for your placement and graduate job applications, whatever course you’re taking. Trentham have a fantastic volunteer programme and last year I successfully applied and have worked on several events including the Christmas Fairy Lights experience, the summer concerts and market research for Trentham Live 2022!
With so many events, restaurants and attractions on offer, Trentham Estate is a great place to head for a day or evening out with friends and a fantastic place to catch up with family when they come to visit. Who wouldn’t love a trip to the Monkey Forest to get away from assignments for a while!? There’s even a Premier Inn on site you can recommend to your parents so they don’t have to crash in your flat!
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are filled with arts and culture, so what better place to take you to next than the Cultural Quarter in Hanley? Piccadilly and the surrounding area are home to a variety of entertainment venues including The Regent Theatre, showcasing phenomenal touring productions, and The Sugarmill, a great place to head to for local music and small gigs, as well as some great restaurants and cafes like The Slamwich Club and The Quarter.
Most recently, I visited The Quarter for lunch with my friend. Their menu is split into a Daytime Menu and an Evening Menu and the range of options is HUGE, with traditional classics, all-day breakfast and brunch and even Mediterranean style platters! I ordered the egg and salmon sourdough from the all-day brunch menu and my friend had the battered cod with chunky chips from the selection of main dishes. (My friend said she was still dreaming of the battered cod days later!)
Just a little further along in the Cultural Quarter, you’ll find the Mitchell Arts Centre, a small local theatre with a Café-Bar and even a dance studio and meeting rooms to hire. As someone who’s heavily involved in the local amateur theatre scene, I’ve spent a LOT of time here: watching performances, taking part in performances and volunteering (yes, more volunteering!) as Marketing & Events Officer for Stoke Amateur Theatre Society.
Last but not least, it would be incredibly remiss of me to not mention the UK’s largest theme park, the Alton Towers Resort. Of course, this is a GREAT place to have right on your doorstep, whether that’s for a thrilliant day out with friends or for some fantastical escapism with the family when they visit. You can find some great student offers on admission here!
It’s also a great place to work as student, with plenty of seasonal opportunities on offer, particularly if you are studying Events Management or Visitor Attraction & Resort Management. I currently work as a Team Leader on the Guest Excellence Team and have gained invaluable experience and loved every minute of working at the Resort!
For Events in Autumn 2021 have a look at Jon Fairburn’s blog by clicking here
Here’s a pick of some of the great events available if you are joining us at Staffordshire University this Autumn. There’s also a list of venues and other information sources at the end for more events
The Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship course is not only about being an entrepreneur or setting up your own business but it is actually understanding how innovation and entrepreneurship should really be at the heart of any business decision. Successful businesses today are the ones who have been really innovative, they have fresh thinking with an entrepreneurial mindset. In today’s dynamic business setting, both small and large companies harness entrepreneurial streaks.
Entrepreneurship and innovation play a very important role within businesses of all shapes and sizes. Employees are expected to think outside the box which can only happen if employees can think innovatively. Today’s world is rather dynamic with the speed of innovation becoming faster, a shorter product life cycle, ever-changing consumer taste, technological advancement, competitor threat, changing government and legal landscape and other external factors not in the control of businesses.
In the face of the current pandemic, it becomes ever so important
to be aware of the surrounding economic conditions and the political climate.
To explore the ethical and unethical anomalies in the contemporary global
political and global economic systems. Such systems can provide both challenges
Sustainability has become a buzz word today. It is not only about
shareholders and profitability anymore. Consumers, suppliers, governments and
many other stakeholders now question the practices of businesses. Companies are
expected to run their businesses with a social responsibility. The triple
bottom line (Elkington 2018); which translates to people, profit and planet,
need to be considered.
Creative Destruction (Schumpeter, 1942) has taken a different
meaning altogether in todays business environment. We are in the midst of the
fourth industrial revolution and ‘disruption’ is at the heart of it. Companies
go through continuous organisational change and hence, have to assess how to
leverage innovative business models to remain competitive.
Of course, to innovate or have an entrepreneurial streak and to
sustain a competitive edge, it is imperative for individuals and companies to
have a strategy. Strategy is key in business planning and entrepreneurial
Thus, to gauge global challenges and opportunities, understand about the social enterprise, develop an entrepreneurial mindset, to be creative and innovative, develop sustainable business practices, leverage change management and have a strategy to maintain competitive advantage, reading for a degree in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship will enable students to hit the ground running.
J. (2018). 25 Years Ago I Coined the Phrase “Triple Bottom Line.” Here’s Why
It’s Time to Rethink It. Harvard Business Review, June 25, 2018
Schumpeter, J. 1942. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. New York: Harper & Bros.
Most new students view their impending studies as a challenge,
feeling nervous and excited in equal parts. For students leaving home for the
first time or moving from the cocoon of sixth form and further education, the
prospect of independence beckons and can be either a boon or a burden.
Everybody worries about fitting in but for the mature
student, the thought that you might be a fair few years older than those fresh
out of school with, in some cases, little or no academic background, only adds
to the feelings of nervousness.
“I was nervous about being older and not fitting in and the hardest part was fitting the work around my family. “ Ella, 36
“I always thought students were there for a jolly – but it’s harder than it looks. At first I did struggle a bit with essays but my tutors explained it to me and after that the whole university experience became enjoyable – the learning, the lecturers, interacting with younger people.” Stephen, 66
“I wish I had been braver and done this sooner. The hardest part of the course was how much technology I had to get to grips with.” Kathy, 51
I attended Staffs Uni at the grand old age of 53 to study
Accounting & Finance. I had had a few false starts with Higher Education
earlier in my life when a young family, illness and money worries meant that it
was nigh on impossible to continue with my studies but at 53 I figured it was
now or never.
I chose a subject that I was interested in and with which
I had a fair bit of experience, however my ultimate goal was to be a teacher. I
opted for an accelerated degree programme as, like many mature students, taking
three or four years out of my working life wasn’t feasible.
I admit, in spite of having the motivation to come to university,
that on walking into a room full of young students on the first day, I did feel
intimidated and for the first few days, it was like being on a different
planet. However, the mature students naturally gravitated towards one another
recognising common ground in life experience and it soon became clear that it
was the perfect environment for us. Over the coming weeks and months, we
laughed and cried together and supported each other through studying, building
a bond of friendship which is still with us today.
I was one of the lucky ones in that I didn’t have children
living at home (in fact my youngest son was at university at the same time),
nor did I have to work full-time but the commitment of my peers who had young
families to look after, working and studying, I was blown away by their
dedication even when times got tough.
As the weeks moved on, in
spite of a 35-year age difference, it became obvious that I could learn as much
from the school-leavers as they could from me. Two particular students dragged
me kicking and screaming through the Economics module by helping me in their
spare time, and in return, I proofread their written assignments.
There are so many benefits to being a mature student. As one of our 2021 graduates, Anthony, explains
“I came to University completely lacking in confidence but over the months my confidence grew, not only because of the friendships made but also the excellent support from the University – from academic tutors to library staff to well-being counsellors. I couldn’t have asked for more. I will be returning to Staffs to study for a Masters in Sep, something I didn’t even dare dream of when I first started.”
Yes, university study is
hard and very challenging at times but the immense sense of pride when
graduation finally beckons, particularly if it hasn’t been plain sailing, is a
Graduates from my course have gone onto become teachers (higher education lecturers!!), accountants, business owners and more, so join us for an adventure of discovery – who knows where it might take you.
Our World is changing rapidly and becoming a global village. In this rapidly changing world, businesses have also evolved how they operate. The need for the employees who are ‘Jack of all trades’ has become a significant necessity for the businesses. Top management of businesses realises the importance of a dynamic workforce. The executives are aware that the rapidly changing business needs demand employees who can give them an edge due to their dynamic capabilities. In recent times this ‘Jack of all trades’ has been often regarded as an insult, but the full phrase is “a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” It was a compliment. This perceived Jack of all trades was in reality, William Shakespeare. The continuously challenging business world has now begun to realise this, and now looking for multi-skilled, multi-talented employees.
higher education sector has also realised that the conventional approach of
teaching and learning is becoming outdated. The students need to be trained and
equipped with a range of skills to be able to succeed in the fast-moving
challenging business environment.
The higher education sector should listen to the employers and tweak their way of teaching and learning. Staffordshire University has consulted a range of employers to understand the latest challenges and altered the teaching method and courses. The conventional approach to the delivery of full-time course of study comprising 15 weeks of student learning and assessment needs revision. The style of delivery needs to be updated in light of the employer demands. Staffordshire Business School has adopted the block teaching style to suit the dynamic business world. Block teaching is a style of teaching where lectures, seminars and learning are provided in intensive blocks. The university has adopted five-week blocks in which students will be studying one module with full concentration. This style of teaching offers deep-dive immersive learning. Block teaching focuses on individual skills and will develop your expertise as an independent learner and problem solver, preparing you for a fast-paced, focused career in finance and business.
Finance and accounting are no longer just about taxation and the management of financial capital. Finance and Business Enterprise will offer contemporary modules in the field of Accounting, Finance and Business enterprise. The course includes dynamic modules to understand the future of work, understanding the concept of Risk and Reward and the need to study the balance of power. The course also offers topics in sustainability accounting, corporate finance, audit and forensic accounting and financial narrative and reporting. Looking forward to solving yesterday’s problems. Fintech and digitisation module will analyse how Financial Technology (FinTech) is revolutionising finance. The module will gain an appreciation for the role of digitisation in business by exploring concepts such as automation, artificial intelligence and data mining and the challenges and opportunities these concepts present. The award provides a deeper understanding of the crucial role of finance in organisational decision making and the pursuit of competitive advantage. The students will graduate with an entrepreneurial mindset and the contemporary financial and accounting skills required to survive and thrive in uncertain business environments.
With this award, students may find themselves
pursuing a career as a Fintech Manager, Investment Analyst, Financial Manager, Finance
Engineer, Data Analyst, Sustainable Wealth Manager, Trust officer, Financial
Advisor, or Forensic Accountant.
Following the successful government-funded Small Business Leadership Programme, in conjunction with the Small Business Charter, Staffordshire Business School has enhanced the digital marketing courses to respond to identified business needs.
Issues emerged from the Small Business Leadership Programme
The programme allowed us to work with businesses nationally to understand their key challenges across business operations and provide guidance on how to survive and thrive in a continuously transforming environment. Naturally, businesses have their unique needs, however there were overarching themes identified which impact success. Whilst there have been developments in accessibility of training, digital marketing continues to be highlighted as a significant area with skills gaps. Particularly with the rise in e-commerce as a necessary approach for selling products and services due to the pandemic(Statista, 2020).
The Changing Consumer
It is no secret that in 2020 we saw accelerated changes in the way in which consumers engage with businesses. With 56.3% of the world’s population now on social media (We Are Social, 2021), changing customer expectations is not something that we can ignore. Operationally, we have learned that there is not the required time on a day to day basis to address those vast changes. The Small Business Leadership Programme enabled us to work practically with those businesses to ensure that understanding their audience is not something that is simply discussed in theory, but can be executed. This concept, coupled with working with businesses first hand, is embedded within course curriculum to ensure that the relevant skills are developed prior to entering the professional environment.
Attracting New Business
It is clear from the challenges caused by COVID-19, that if customers are not acquired and retained, business survival is put under great pressure (Hubspot, 2020). But how exactly do we use the right channels to attract new business? Through social listening, strategising against objectives and harmonising with business values, our connected business were able to ‘see the wood from the trees’ when striving for growth. As a digital society, we are inundated with options for promotion. This in fact has been a key barrier for our businesses, who found that perhaps too may options caused confusion of where they should be engaging.
Practical Ways to Plan and Rebuild for the Future
Overall, a general consensus across the five cohorts on the Small Business Leadership Programme was that planning for the future was most challenging, particularly with the reality of the changing environment often being faster than what they could plan for. We supported those businesses to think proactively, utilising guidance from our Entrepreneurs in Residence and to only use reactive approaches when relevant changes emerged for their business. We identify here that in order to support these business challenges, a flexible learning framework is key to any individual developing themselves within digital marketing.
Responding to the identified skills gaps, specifically with SME’s nationally, Staffordshire Business School provides a wide range of Digital Marketing courses focusing on industry expected knowledge, alongside fundamental skills needed to succeed in a professional environment. See our list of available courses below.
Rich in case study insights, the book provide a critque of city-region building and considers how governance restructuring shapes the political, economic, social and cultural geographies of devolution. Case studies include Greater Manchester, Sheffield, Swansea Bay City Region, Cardiff Capital Region and the North Wales Growth Deal.
Martin Jones is Deputy Vice Chancellor and Professor of Human Geography at Staffordshrie University. He works closely with colleagues in Staffordshire Business School on regional industrial startegy and the political economy. He tweets @spatialityjones
Tonia Barrett, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School
Most students decide to go to University as they want to learn, experience university life, meet friends, improve chances in their career, and gain more independence. Our Foundation Degree in Visitor Attraction and Resort Management (VARM) students achieve all of this and so much more. They leave with memorable and life changing experiences, broader knowledge, in depth understanding, increased determination, the skills to overcome challenges, an improved level of responsibility and time management skills. Are these skills you want to improve? Are you ready for a new challenge? Fancy meeting friends that that overtime become family? What we learn becomes part of who we are, check us out.
I have the great pleasure to be part of a growing programme full
of enthusiastic, energetic, innovative, creative, humorous, and imaginative learners.
This educational experience isn’t going to be easy, but after 2 years of
studying, and gaining employment at Alton Towers resort there will be no doubt
in your mind that it will all be worth it. Our VARM course looks for quality
over quantity, so you won’t be in a room with hundreds of other learners, just
liked minded people like you. We don’t strive for perfection at every entrance
gate, we train, teach, stretch, and individually challenge you to develop as
for us we are looking for progression not perfection in both your academic
studies and your employment experiences. While studying you will take part in debates,
discussions, individual and group assessments, you will design your own Visitor
Attraction business, you will investigate, read, research, and analyse current
practices. This course is a unique and bespoke opportunity for you to grow
personally and professional in a friendly orientated environment that is
supportive and inclusive to all learners. You will gain support from University
specialists from a wide field of organisational areas to include Tourism,
Events and Hospitality.
The VARM adventure includes 10-weeks paid placement in the UK’s leading theme park, Alton Towers Resort. The greatest showman once wrote ‘The noblest art is to make others happy’ (P. T. Barnum) and through your employment opportunities in the resort you will find yourself engrossed in delivering outstanding customer service, you will be able to build your communication skills, problem solving techniques, teambuilding as well as your own personnel management skills. While on your rollercoaster adventure, you will have the opportunity to gain access in student lead meetings with the Senior Leadership Team at the resort as well other unique opportunities. The exposure to these career driven individuals, not only helps with the writing of your assessments but also helps with your own career, motivation, networking, and drive to achieve your own dreams.
We are so much more than an educational establishment, we know through hard work, reflection, determination, motivation, and our support and guidance we can help turn your dreams into reality. As my favourite professor once said, ‘It’s not our abilities, but our choices that make us who we are.’ Dumbledore, Harry Potter. Throughout the success of VARM, it has been evidenced that the more you put in, the more you get out. Read the testimonials below from current and previous students, and then ‘make the right choice’.
Matt. Street Performer/Dungeon Attraction Manager. Graduated from VARM June 2021, moving into BA Business Management in September 2021. ‘Staffordshire University has given me the freedom to independently gain skills and understanding of the leisure industry, supported by teaching of theories and processes which can be applied throughout my job robes at Alton Towers Resort.’
Cameron. Animal Information Host at Shark Bait Reef by Sea Life. Graduated VARM June 2021, Business Top Up planned for September 2021.
‘Varm has been Fun, Friends and Fulfilment in myself. I’ve gained independence whilst being at Staffs both in my studies and work life. Grateful for all the opportunities and have really pushed and developed myself. A Clearer idea of where I want to work in the future thanks to the placements and working I’ve widened my network at Alton Towers.’
Nick. Guest Relations Manager. Distinction achieved in Fda Visitor Attraction & Resort Management, graduated June 2020. Currently studying Business management BA top-up. ‘VARM provides students with the chance to learn, gain experience and make unforgettable memories. Personally for me delivering a wealth of knowledge, after six enticing placements around the resort.’
Harry. Retail Team Leader. Level 4 VARM student, progressing to level 5 in September 2021. “Throughout my first year on the VARM course at Staffordshire University I have gained skills within a professional, safe, academic environment which I have been able to display through my work placements at Alton Towers Resort”