Leisure programme flies into Wageningen
International tourism is a booming industry. Contemporary tourism is referred to as the largest mass migration of peoples in history. Hiking in Nepal, sunbathing on a Pacific beach or game viewing in Zimbabwe are common practice for those who can afford it.
From September 1996 onwards it will also be possible for international students to study these phenomena at WAU.
The establishment of WAU's fourteenth MSc programme went very quickly. Last February WICE, the World Leisure and Recreation Association's International Centre of Excellence, approached the University Board with the request to accommodate their course here and attach an MSc degree to it. The field is not new for WAU. An interdepartmental working group on recreation and tourism has been coordinating research and Dutch MSc level education in the field since 1984. Three weeks ago WAU's management decided to grant the request and to give the go-ahead for one term.
WICE has offered an advanced course in leisure and leisure related subjects at the Christelijke Hogeschool in Leeuwarden since 1992. This school for vocational training is not entitled to give MSc degrees. An external independent review, however, recognized the academic level of the course. The course is also recognized by Unesco as important for the cultural development of a global society. Besides, we felt that the course should be offered in an academic setting. Last year the institute in Leeuwarden and WICE agreed to go their separate ways," says Teus Kamphorst, director of WICE.
Now the green light has been given, Kamphorst will most likely move in to the Department of Physical Planning and Rural Development at De Hucht, bringing along WICE, its library and the addresses of the 200 worldwide faculty members. In the original set up of the programme, two different lecturers from this pool of leisure experts were brought in every week. Each term at least a third of the selection would be changed in order to be able to introduce the latest developments into the programme and to prevent lecturers from repeating themselves year after year. In Wageningen, the programme will be organised jointly by WICE and WAU's working group on Tourism and Recreation, but the concept of guest lecturers will be retained.
From September until April about 40 guests will share their knowledge on a range of leisure related topics; from the relation between work and leisure, through historical developments and various aspects of tourism and recreation, to the relation between leisure, lifestyle and ageing. After this students start their practical period and thesis research.
Jaap Lengkeek, from the Department of Sociology and member of working group explains that the programme will have a strong focus on the ins and outs of international tourism. An estimated 500 million tourists cross international borders each year. In many countries in the South tourism is already the largest sector of economy, in terms of financial turnover, and the sector is still expanding. The background of these developments and the effects they are having on local society, land use and the environment are key issues. The programme's aim is not to educate students on how to run a hotel or establish a holiday resort. Emphasis is on reflection, providing tools for a critical analysis of the developments in the field of tourism and recreation," Lengkeek continues.
Kamphorst confirms that two thirds of the graduates from past years have found employment in research jobs, of which half went on to do PhD research. The remaining third are working at policy level for government, tourist boards and other social organisations.
Although WAU's management is confident about the success of the programme, it has two major reservations. The fact that the course is largely offered by external, temporary faculty - only a few staff members from WAU are involved at the moment - might impede the course's integration in the university. Secondly, WAU has to contribute one hundred thousand guilders to cover the programme's expenses for 1996/97.
Both Lengkeek and Kamphorst are quite confident that these points can be overcome. At present 15 students have registered for the programme, whereas a total of 25 students is needed to cover the costs. Besides, although flying in two lecturers weekly might seem expensive, these lecturers will not be on WAU's payroll. Only travel and accommodation costs have to be paid. According to Kamphorst this makes it a low budget programme. Furthermore, he is sure that more students will register for the course before September.
Kamphorst admits that the programme, as it has been offered by WICE in the past, needs adjustments in order to bring it in line with the other MSc programmes. Lengkeek adds We have to investigate how to integrate the programme and the existing MSc specialisation on tourism and recreation for regular students. Some of the guest lectures will be offered as free optional courses open to all students interested in the subject."