#SBSStudents: Finance for all? An insight into the world of money, power, and poverty

By Anna Hinds, BA Accounting and Financial Management Student

Last week was a real eye-opener into the true world of finance for both the first and second-year students at the University of Suffolk. The true identity of finance was revealed in the form of two field trips for the second-year students, one of which we were accompanied by the enthusiastic first-years, who rekindled our excitement for the subject that we are studying.

The week started off with the second-year students paying a visit to the Ipswich Citizen’s Advice Bureau, a UK charity specialising in advice and support for people in all kinds of difficulty, from debt to bills to unemployment and benefit support. A detailed and informative workshop was delivered to us by Nelleke, who quite clearly explained to us the role of the CAB; their aims as a business; and what they help their clients to achieve. It was also made explicitly clear that they are non-judgemental and confidential, which is of particular importance to their clients, so that they feel confident and have no shame in asking for help when it is needed. The CAB is a free advice service (a charity), which is indirectly funded by taxpayers to provide a free service to the user. The two main aims of the organisation are to: give help to people advice for any problems that they face; and to seek change and influence decision makers. In a modern society where we are continually fighting for equality, should a charity organisation have to beg those in government etc. to change the laws to make things fairer for those who are at the bottom of the social hierarchy? I wonder.

PHOTOS: Left to right: students at a CAB workshop; students at the ICAEW listening to Martin’s presentation; on the City of London tour, taking in the scenery and architecture.

We were also given a task on debt to complete, which highlighted serious consequences to us that we were unaware of – including the fact that a £1,000 fine is incurred for not paying a TV licence. Leaflets and budgeting programmes were also received which is used for clients to help maintain their money; this was particularly useful for us as well.

The second field trip, despite starting out on a dull, cold, and wet journey into Liverpool Street Station, was soon turned around with the awe-inspiring buildings and architecture of the City of London as we embarked on our tour of the square mile, giving us a brief, but informative overview of the City’s history and quirky facts too. The guide was the talented historian Marilyn Greene, who used to work for the Victoria & Albert Museum and is a professional historian. The huge sky scrapers and modern yet historic feel of the city oozed out the feelings of wealth, power, and knowledge, making us students feel somewhat medicore in comparison. Our trip to the City was further extended by a visit to the ICAEW, where they kindly provided us with lunch and refreshments, before delivering presentations to us, one of which by Dominic Sheehy explained what it entails to embark on our journey to becoming a fully-fledged ICAEW Chartered Accountant. This was followed by another presentation by Martin Martinoff, which even though it may have been less formal, definitely left food for thought, and much room for discussion and debate about the culture and ethics of modern day finance, including: what is our goal? Why do we want to be accountants? Is there room for accountants in the future?

The day ended with a brief but relaxing meditation session with Professor Atul Shah, the organiser of the whole experience, which enabled us to reflect on our journeys in life, ranging from our school memories, up to the present day. This exercise helped us to think about our futures after graduation, and what it is that we are striving to aim for.
Overall these two field trips have given us invaluable experiences, and have undoubtedly taught us a lot. On a personal level, it has struck a huge reality check for me; the stark contrast between organisations such as the CAB and big central banks in the City, where it is extremely clear that more than ever before, the contrast and gap between the rich and the poor in this country is huge – and what can we do about it? Will we ever see the time when a bank opens its doors to teach the financially illiterate how to understand mortgages, APR rates, and even the basics of finance, or will we have to keep relying on small charity organisations such as the CAB to pick up the pieces that these larger organisations have created and dumped onto society?

For more information on our Accounting and Finance degrees, please see our website.

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#SBSStudents: Tourism students visit Greenwich

Tourism students were given first-hand experience of how a major international destination operates when a group of second and third years visited Greenwich. The destination contains the tenth most popular tourist attractions in the UK and forms part of one of the UK’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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University of Suffolk Tourism students and staff aboard Cutty Shark. (C) Prof. David Gill.

The students were able to evaluate the visitor attractions of the Cutty Sark that carried cargoes of tea and wool to Britain; the Royal Naval Hospital with its ornate chapel; the National Maritime Museum; and the Royal Observatory and the meridian line. As well as enjoying the multicultural experience of the Greenwich Market, where they were able to savour the international cuisine, the students were impressed with the ease of the transport links to Greenwich: the Docklands Light Railway from Stratford and passing through Canary Wharf; and then returning down the river Thames on the Clipper where they stopped at The Tower of London.

Barrie Kelly, CEO of Visit Greenwich, gave a short presentation to the students to explain how different organisations can work together to make a destination success. Greenwich attracts some 18.5 million visitors a year, and this contributes approximately £1.2 billion to the local economy. The students heard about the ambitious plans to create a new cruise ship terminal in Greenwich to allow more international visitors to access the area.

James Kennell, Principal Lecturer at the University of Greenwich, talked to the students about the centrality of tourism in any plans to develop economic impact. He reviewed his research on the sustainability and effectiveness of Destination Management Organisations (DMOs).

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University of Suffolk Tourism students and staff. (C) Prof. David Gill.

One student was delighted to find that the Cutty Sark had visited his home island of São Tomé in the Gulf of Guinea. The interactive exhibits on the ship included ports that had been served by the Cutty Sark, and contained images of his home town from the late 19th century. Student Guter Narciso said “I was so excited to find that my home had this long-standing connection with the UK.”

Laura Locke, course leader for events and tourism at the University of Suffolk said “Activities such as this visit to London offer such marvellous opportunities for students to experience the reality of the contexts they are studying, to meet key experts and contributors to the tourism economy and to apply the theory to the practice.”

Professor David Gill, Director of Heritage Futures, said “The grandeur of Greenwich helps students to immerse themselves in a major international heritage attraction and to meet those involved with the destination’s presentation and interpretation.”

Professor David Collins, Head of the Suffolk Business School, added “Experiencing a major destination such as Greenwich situates and embeds more conventional forms of learning and in so doing allows students to appreciate the essential complexity of what we too often reduce to tourism. This experience combined with other opportunities to apply knowledge and to develop real-life reflection is what makes our graduates career-ready’.”

The students studying on the Event and Tourism programme are currently working with All About Ipswich to develop the Celebrate Ipswich conference on Friday 12 May at Trinity Park Conference Centre. More information can be found by visiting the Eventbrite page.

#SBSStudents: Learning in Context (and in the sun!)

Students from the Suffolk Business School at the University of Suffolk have recently returned from a cultural tourism field trip to southern Spain.

The students studying Event and Tourism Management and Business Management visited Seville, Cordoba and Cadiz.

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Suffolk Business School students and staff in Seville. Photo (C) Suffolk Business School

Gintare Liutkeviciute, first year Event and Tourism student said “It has been an amazing trip, with the best people! I enjoyed every minute of it and it was great to use our Spanish language knowledge. I was impressed with the discipline and dedication of Spanish students at the Dance Concervatorio, it definitely taught me how important is to focus on my goals and to be committed no matter how hard it can get. Overall, this trip was absolutely amazing, can somebody turn back time por favor?”

Laura Locke, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Event and Tourism Management  who accompanied the students said “We visited museums and galleries, marvelled at the combination of Moslem, Jewish and Catholic heritage architecture displayed in the Mesquita in Cordoba, explored the Plaza de Espana in Seville where Game of Thrones and Star Wars was filmed and questioned the tour guide in Cadiz about the opportunities for developing destinations, thus extending the students’ learning from their year one and two modules.”

“There were many highlights of the tour; students were unanimous that the visit to the Conservatoire for Spanish dance in Seville was enlightening, inspiring, and inspirational.”

Accompanying Laura on the tour was Lecturer Gloria Picton. With a background in banking, Gloria teaches the Language and Culture for Business module so the students were able to put their Spanish to the test.

Fellow student Alioune Sylla said “I would recommend that every university should offer their students this opportunity. We really have been blessed to experience it. This trip offers students to get to know each other at different levels, to connect and also build friendships…we were able to practice what we have been studying in Spanish seminars for the past few weeks.”