No uni for old men

Kelvin Bathe

Faculty: Lord Ashcroft International Business School
Department: Marketing
Course: MSc Marketing
Category: Business

10 December 2014

Or ‘Grumpy old man hopes that bright young things will change his outlook’, which is what I was going to call this piece but then I realised a good title needs more tabloid credentials, something short and not very sweet (‘Freddie Starr ate my hamster’, anyone?). Of course you young people have only a vague idea of what a tabloid is. Flipboard is great but it just doesn’t have the same, how can I put it, directness as a proper red top.

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Anyway how did I end up here? Starting out at university studying MSc Marketing when I should be thinking about my next executive move and topping up my pension. Well I thought if Angus Young can still get away with dressing as a schoolboy at nearly 60 then I can get away with being a student. I am a lot younger than him. And I wear long trousers.

A year of postgraduate studies, what could go wrong? I could really struggle with the course. I could run out of money. I could feel uncomfortable being the grandad of the group. I could just not enjoy it. None of these understandable concerns are enough to put me off and to be honest, they are the sort of worries that will fade away after a relaxing pint in the SU bar. Ah, the SU bar. This is one of those things that I really feel I missed out on by not going to university before. Bonding with my fellow students over enlightening discussions about favourite crisp flavours, the top 5 Motorhead lyrics (‘Love Me like a Reptile’ gets my vote) and is Guy Martin the only real man left in Britain?

Hang on, what do you mean there is no bar at ARU? That wasn’t on the website!

Still I suppose there might be other compensations. It is all about the learning after all. The first thing I have to learn is where all the rooms are in the university. Not because I have a chaotic timetable but because I keep getting asked for directions all the time. I might look like I have been resident at ARU for decades but no, I don’t know where Webb is. It’s enough to drive you to drink… oh, that’s right, there is no bar.

I soon learn that if I don’t wear my lanyard the requests for directions stop. Now I just look like someone who’s wandered in for a warm drink and not a member of staff.

Seven weeks in and I have my routines. Routine is a key factor in living longer (Daily Telegraph, August 2011. See, references and everything, check me out), which is another subject close to my heart – but not that close that I won’t have another doughnut. I have managed to get the first pieces of work in without too much trauma. I would celebrate with a drink but… there is no bar.

The really great things are the genuine enjoyment that comes from working with others who bring different cultural experiences and skills to the group. Also, for someone who loves their subject like I do, to have access to extensive research tools and study resources that help you to improve your understanding is an absolute joy. The real pleasure, though, is to have the time to indulge myself in study itself. That is something that cannot be overstated enough. Young people, take it from an oldie: make the most of that privilege because it may not happen again in your life.

Sermon over. Drink, anyone? I’m sure we can find a bar somewhere…

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