Reporter 450, 3 April 2000

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New course created for print managers

Middle managers in the print sector are to be offered a specialist BSc in Communications, Printing and Packaging, in a new study programme launched by Leeds College of Technology and the University’s Department of Colour Chemistry.

This is the first such degree to be set up jointly by the College and the University and will also be the first print industry-specific programme available in a flexible mode. Professor Jim Guthrie worked with College principal Dr Jim MacWilliams to design the course, and Dr Tony Donajgrodzki, the University’s director of part-time education, helped create its format.

Dr Donajgrodzki said the new degree had exciting national and international dimensions, with the active involvement of the sector’s main professional institutes in the UK and expressions of interest from as far as Hong Kong. The new degree has been warmly welcomed by the Institute of Printing, which believes it could provide the basis for an industry-wide qualification. Its syllabus ranges across scientific and technical aspects of the industry, coupled with management and production skills.

Dr MacWilliams said the pace of technological change in print and packaging created a need for new ways of updating skills, and the University’s innovations in flexible learning provided the answer.

"The Institute of Printing has a lot of associate members who would like to qualify for full corporate membership, but they are spread all over the country and are actively running their businesses - so a flexible programme was the answer," he said.

Up to 100 students are expected to enrol in September to complete the course over four-and-a-half years, with distance learning supported by two or three concentrated study weekends each year.

The European Social Fund and the Yorkshire and Humberside Universities’ Association are helping to fund the initiative.

In a separate project involving College/University collaboration with European Social Fund backing, £240,000 has been invested in developing computer-based teaching packages to help engineering workers study for HNC and HND qualifications. Park Lane College in Leeds and Kilmarnock College are also working on this initiative, known as Calfee - computer-assisted learning for engineering employees.

Software is being developed to deliver tutorials and interactive assessment exercises which can be marked automatically. The package is designed to appeal to smaller firms which can ill afford to send staff away for training, and should reach the market this summer.

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