Film ID: YFA 443 Video of YFA 443 Leeds University presents... 23 minutes 1983 LEEDS UNIVERSITY PRESENTS .....23 MINUTES c.1983 Visitor TabsDescription This film was made as a promotional film for Leeds University and highlights the wide range of subject areas potential students can choose to study, the facilities the university provides, and aspects of student's social life including student halls and the University Union. The film also includes interviews with many of the University's current students. The film opens with a stop-motion animation sequence filmed in black and white. In speeded up motion, a "professor" explores the University campus. The short film was part of a Television Society project made by the students. Now in colour, there is external and internal footage of the library. Many students are using the library to study. Some students are sitting, studying in the park, and many of the University's buildings are shown, some old made of brick or stone, and the new with modern designs and made of concrete blocks. Title - Leeds University Presents Twenty Three Minutes Inside the accommodation office, it is explained that all first year students are provided with on campus accommodation. The exteriors of the student halls are shown before in the interior of Boddington Hall, the largest at the University. Here, students are asked about the advantages of living in halls. The student's room is covered with posters, and there is a boom box on one of the tables. This is followed by footage of the dining hall, snooker room, other recreation areas, and the student bar. The other option is to live in student flats in a typical double room. Two male students give a tour of one of the flats. Their room is also covered with posters and adverts. The flats include a shared kitchen in which there are students cooking and eating. Two female students are interviewed about the places they have lived throughout their time and university and some any of the problems they faced. Each of them enjoyed their first year accommodation and found it easier than having to find your own house or flat by the third year. The president of the Student Union speaks about some of the social activities available to students. There is a disco which takes place, and elsewhere at the school, there are bulletin boards covered with adverts from different student societies. Outside the campus buildings, a society fair is taking place. This is followed by a political demonstration. Finally other facilities are shown such as the Laundromat and food store. The Student Union President also points out that the SU is for more than just entertainment, but can also offer advice on things like benefits or how to help change the educational structure of a course. Inside a lecture theatre, a professor is teaching his students, writing something on one of the large blackboards at the front of the room. Students are expected to structure their own workloads, take notes, and buy books. Some of the students in the lecture are interviewed about the academic side of the University. The student population at Leeds University is beginning to be more diverse and can be seen by the ethnicities of the students in the class. After a tour around campus, it is back to the library where the many floors and stacks of books are shown. There is also an exterior shot of the library at night with all its windows lit. Various teaching methods available at the University are discussed. In a small group, a History Professor runs a tutorial about the Viking Age. Students also have the ability to take the lesson further on their own by using the audio-video equipment available. One student watches WWII archive newsreel footage at a video viewing station. In one of the science labs, students perform experiments as part of a practical lesson. One of them is interviewed about the advantages of this sort of teaching method. Combined degree schemes are also available, and this is visually demonstrated using a cartoon person wearing half outfits or accessories which would be associated with an area of study. For instance, if someone were to study art and physics, the cartoon would be wearing a white lab coat and holding a paintbrush. The film highlights the wide range of courses and flexibility available to the students. A male student is interviewed about his combined degree of English, Russian, and Roman studies. In the next scene, a research professor speaks about his work on the islands near Borneo. Footage of him teaching in the classroom is intercut with his practical experience researching insects in the wilderness. Moving away from academic life, the viewer is next informed that there are 555 pubs in the telephone directory. There is a montage of beermats which leads into a shot of a pub where a jazz band is playing. There are many different types of pubs to choose from including local pubs and bars and restaurants such as White Locks. Students can also stock up on food and drink at the local market, and many of the different market stalls, including the fish counters and vegetable stalls, are shown at Kirkgate Market. Civil Engineering students take their work outside of the classroom and can be seen surveying the land. They use specialist equipment and binoculars. Their plans are then drawn up on blueprints which they review with their professor. There is also a shot of road construction and some of the improvements which they propose to make. The University receives a number of visitors each year who are experts in their field of study. Students are invited to speak with them in an informal atmosphere. This is followed by a montage of sporting footage highlighting some of the athletic teams which students can join including track and field, rugby, football, climbing, and dance. At the Career Services, students are able to explore catalogues and sign up for interviews with visiting companies. The inside of the Career Services facilities are shown as well as an interview which takes place with one of the students. These interviews are usually followed by a visit to the company for the student to find out more about that particular career choice. A man walks across a road, and in his hands, he carries a stuffed St. Bernard dog. The man is interviewed and explains that he did a fine arts and science degree, and with that education, he is now a scientific model-maker for a natural history museum. Some of his work is shown. A female journalist explains that there are some jobs which graduates take not related to their degrees. Though she studied French at university, she went onto work for a newspaper in Sheffield. The journalist is being interviewed in a busy newsroom and explains the tasks involved in her job. Back at the University, workmen are putting up scaffolding in order to construct a stage for an outdoor performance. Drama students are rehearsing inside before the big event. On the night of the performance, all the players are in costume on the outdoor stage, and there is a large audience gathered to watch. The film ends with shots of Leeds city centre at night, encouraging the viewer to think about his future plans perhaps to attend the University. Title - Produced by the Film Unit of the Audio Visual Service University of Leeds. Context This is one of a number of films made by the Audio Visual Department (AVD) at Leeds University throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. The head of the AVD was John Murray, who had previously worked for the Yorkshire Film Company and was around this time also the Chairman of the Film Panel of the Yorkshire Arts Association. John is still working for Honley Films – see the Contexts for Berry Brow (1965) and Leeds Medical School (1971). The Audio Visual Department was also known as Audio Visual Services or the Film Unit, and has also made other promotional films for the University, Time to Do (1971), and in later years similar promotional films: Talk about Leeds (c.1978) and (c.1983). Students working in the Film Unit would also go out into the community and film, as with another film that they made around the same time as this is Ashwood Day Centre (1982), showing the work of the Ashwood Psychiatric Day Centre in Leeds. At some time in the 1980s the work of the Film Unit stopped and the new the Institute of Communications Studies was formed in 1988, a centre for teaching and research in communication, media and culture, taking on an even broader inter-disciplinary approach. For more on the Audio Visual Department at the University see the Context for Action Stations/Salvation Army/Timothy Taylors (1975). At the time this film was made higher education was on the threshold of major changes – it was also the time when the BBC comedy The Young Ones hit our TV screens. In 1949 there were some 100,000 students in HE; today this is around 2 million. In the immediate post war period going to university was still unheard for the great majority of the school students from working class families, and even as this number grew, they tended to end up at the Red Brick universities such as Leeds (those which were chartered between the beginning of the twentieth century and the Second World War). The Polish sociologist Ferdynand Zweig presented a portrait of this in his book, The student in the age of anxiety, published in 1963. In this year the Robin Report on Higher Education came out which contributed to opening universities to students from working class backgrounds and also to more women. This was mainly, but not only, because it provided for student maintenance grants. But the 1960s also saw a growth in arts and humanities courses. By the time of the next major state examination of higher education, the Dearing Report, ‘Higher Education in a Learning Society’, which was published shortly after the Blair government commissioned it in 1997, universities were in a desperate financial plight. It was out of this that the introduction of student tuition fees emerged. This policy has come under increasing criticism as fees have risen. As well as being a deterrent to many prospective students, and landing graduates in debt, there also seems to be a real problem with a large proportion of repayments defaulting, thereby undermining any savings to the treasury. But the financing of universities is only one part of the wider issue of the role of higher education in society. Also under ever greater attack is the trajectory that education as a whole, and especially at university level, has taken since the 1980s. The Dearing Report stated that among the purposes of education was that it should, “sustain a culture which demands disciplined thinking, encourages curiosity, challenges existing ideas and generates new ones; [and] be part of the conscience of a democratic society, founded on respect for the rights of the individual and the responsibilities of the individual to society as a whole.” There are those that have argued that by turning universities into businesses, and orientating them so much towards economic growth, they are in fact doing the opposite of this. Those who take this view see the Brown Review of higher education of 2010, and the White Paper of 2011,‘ Higher Education: Students at the Heart of the System’, as both strengthening this trend. Thus Holmwood argues that these affirm “education only in its contribution to the economy and as a private investment in human capital”. Des Freedman and Natalie Fenton present similar criticisms, especially of the marketisation of students, as does Paul Dean who contends that, “the model of the student as consumer is inimical to education". Those in opposition to these current trends in education can be found on both the ‘right’ as well as the ‘left’ of the political spectrum, and a great many different visions of education have been offered. What they all have in common is a belief that education is about learning how to live one’s life, an end in itself, and not just about contributing to the economy. The humanities have traditionally been the disciplines within which this education took place, yet these are being severely curtailed. Many would doubtless agree with Collini that, “The kinds of understanding and judgement exercised in the humanities are of a piece with the kinds of understanding and judgement involved in living a life.” Dean goes on to say, “the humanities constantly re-examine and reconfigure their own past, constructing fresh interpretations of the development of culture, society and thought, in ways whose importance resides precisely in their irreducibility to the kind of quantitative criteria demanded by bureaucrats.” In his review of Collini’s book, Alan Ryan talks of “the wholesale corporatisation of the sector”, and opposes to this “the idea that a university setting allows us to ask the questions we can't ask when we are in the middle of some practical task.” The perception of universities as being simply a means to getting a good career has meant that some have opted to go straight into the job market from school, and not land themselves with a huge debt. Yet even this may be misguided as more and more jobs are being seen as requiring graduates, and these usually pay more. What is more, the idea that changes in higher education will increase social mobility has also come under fire. The Times Higher Education reports that research by Jo Blanden and her colleagues at the London School of Economics and Institute for Fiscal Studies show that “family circumstances had an increasing effect on life chances as the post-war decades advanced. The reason is the powerful effect of education, and especially higher education, on earnings - and the fact that access to higher education is closely and increasingly linked to family background.” The literature on the current state of higher education and what it ought to be is now vast and seems to be growing exponentially. Among those making their critical voices felt are the Critical Pedagogy Group, the Campaign for the Public University and the online journal Blue Skies. John Harpur’s book offers a reasonable overview. Yet many are fighting against the stream, and one practical example of an alternative conception of education can be found in the Modern Liberal Arts programmes at Winchester University, which has “taken up the challenge of retrieving [the] fundamental questions concerning truth, freedom and nature”. References Paul Dean, ‘Uniworsity?’, a review of Stefan Collini, What Are Universities For?, the New Criterion, 2, , Vol. 31, Issue 5, 2012 Alan Ryan, Review of Stefan Collini, What Are Universities For?, New Statesman, 27th February 2012 S Cowden and G Singh, ‘Sat-Nav Education - A Means to an End or an End to Meaning’, in, S Cowden and G Singh (eds) Acts of Knowing: Claiming Critical Pedagogy in, against and beyond the university, Continuum Books, 2013 The Dearing Report, BBC Summary Carol Dyhouse, ‘Going to university: funding, costs, benefits’, History and Policy The Times Higher Education, ‘We're still skipping (working) class’ Joyce Canaan, Critical education in and against the neoliberalised university: an English perspective, 2012 John Holmwood, ‘The history of higher education reform, and the Coalition's betrayal’, Open Democracy, 10 July 2011 Des Freedman And Natalie Fenton, ‘Business first, students second: the future of English higher education?’, Open Democracy, 29 June 2011 Campaign for the Public University Blue Skies: New thinking about the future of higher education Modern Liberal Arts at Winchester Further Reading Stefan Collini, What Are Universities For?, Penguin, 2012. John Harpur, Innovation, profit and the common good in higher education, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010 Ferdynand Zweig, The student in the age of anxiety: A survey of Oxford and Manchester students, Heinemann, 1963.