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Issue 473, 19 November 2001

A tale of two ministers, two places and one day

The University played host to government visitors at each campus last week, as the arts and higher education ministers came – both on the same day – to support events at Leeds and Bretton Hall.

Lifelong learning and higher education minister Margaret Hodge joined senior academics, educational practitioners and regional economic planners from around the UK at a HEFCE sponsored conference, organised by the school of continuing education, showcasing successful partnerships between higher and further education in the region to promote best practice in widening participation.

Opening the conference, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Alan Wilson said: "Higher education is not simply an economic instrument – important though that is. It provides individuals with the basis for their life opportunities and it is deeply civilising."

Discussions – Margaret Hodge and Alan Wilson

Margaret Hodge said: "Through partnerships, universities and further education colleges can make a real difference to local people – educationally, economically and socially – by delivering a shared goal of social inclusion and improving the skills base of Yorkshire and Humberside."

Dramatic setting – Bretton Hall students meet Baroness Blackstone and David Sugden in the Allendale room at Mansion House

Bretton Hall’s impressive facilities provided the backdrop to the launch of a regional cultural strategy, championing the whole spectrum of cultural and creative interests in the region, including tourism and sport, to encourage and enable more people to take part in cultural activities.

Launching the strategy, minister for the arts Baroness Blackstone said: "Culture brings fun and creativity to our lives and helps to inspire and educate. It makes us healthier, more confident, more employable and more successful in our work."

The event was attended by leading figures in the arts, education, culture and sport from throughout the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Before lunch in the Mansion House, Baroness Blackstone joined Bretton’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor David Sugden to meet students currently performing in Man of Mode at the University’s Powerhouse One theatre in Wakefield.

The cast – all final year drama students – were in full costume, designed by Bretton students to respect the form of 17th century period clothing, but using modern fabrics such as leopard print, PVC and denim.

See the press releases on Margaret Hodge's visit, and on Tessa Blackstone.

See the Vice-Chancellor's opening address to the widening participation conference.

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