How a place on an Events Management course

UCAS deadlines will be looming sooner than you think. Event speaks to three university lecturers on what exactly they're looking for in an Events Management candidate.

Lecturers advocate volunteering at student events to bolster experience (Flickr: Creative Commons)
Lecturers advocate volunteering at student events to bolster experience (Flickr: Creative Commons)

Sehar Graham, programme leader and senior lecturer in Events Management, Manchester Metropolitan University

Our application numbers are very healthy and have grown over the last decade. We have noticed in the last few years a slight change where we are seeing more mature students applying for the course. These are perhaps parents returning to full time education or students with considerable industry experience who now want a formal events management qualification.

This just adds to the diversity of our student body, which we feel really enriches our course for all students. Manchester’s popularity as an events destination also means that the consideration of the destination to study events management is equally important – something we can really exploit here with our industry links.

We look for the whole package. We want our prospective students to live, breathe and dream events – students that are passionate about the events industry.

My advice would be to volunteer. Try working with local charities who are always looking for helpers for their fundraising events – they very much welcome event volunteers. These events provide great experience and often you’ll see the whole event, such as working pre-event in the office. Any work experience in a customer-facing role or within the service sector is also valued – after all dealing with people is very much a part of the events industry, and skills such as dealing with crowds or irate customers are all transferrable skills.

Dr Andy Lyon, head of department – Marketing, Tourism, Events Management and HRM, University of Chester

The landscape for students applying to events management courses has changed considerably over the last few years. More higher education (HE) establishments are now offering events management programmes and this has led to an increase in student choice in terms of where they study.

It is not only the number of HE institutions that are offering events management, but the types of programmes being offered is diversifying. For example, at its Shrewsbury campus, the University of Chester will be offering Events and Festivals Management as a degree programme. The biggest change in HE has been the cap coming off for universities in terms of how many students they can recruit. This means that students have a much better chance of being able to go to their first choice of university.

The main things we look for in students are enthusiasm and engagement. Events Management is a really rewarding, interesting and dynamic subject area to study and we want our students to be as passionate about it as our staff are. All our staff have professional events management backgrounds and they are really impressed when students have a passion for the subject area. Gaining experience in events management really helps, whether this is helping to organise student balls, charity events or working part-time in the sector. Experience is really beneficial and having a CV that stands out from others, even at a young age, is really beneficial for not only the application process, but also when at university.

My advice for students applying to event management courses with little or no experience in events would be to volunteer as much as you can. Volunteering does not have to necessarily be events related, but it is free, easy, helps build a CV and also a network of people to call on. For example, all our second year students do a five-week placement as part of their studies and having a network of people to call on can be beneficial in securing a really good placement.

Mark Norman, senior lecturer in Events Management and recruitment lead, Sheffield Hallam University

When we first started our course in 2002 there were only two or three other universities in the UK offering an Events Management degree course. There has been significant growth in the number of people wanting to complete such courses and as a result there are more then 100 universities now offering Events Management degrees.

Usually there is a deadline of January for UCAS applications where you start the following September. After this, we will make an offer that is usually based on applicants’ predicted grades. There are so many different routes people take to university that we would encourage them to speak to us as soon as possible. In cases where some students may be on the borderline of UCAS points, we can look at things like previous industry experience, particularly if they are a mature student (over 21). We encourage applicants at our open days to get as much real world experience as they can even before they come on the course.  

My advice to prospective students would be to not worry too much about the experience you have right now: we can help with that. Work hard at your qualifications, to ensure you get the points you need to gain entry to your preferred course. Come to university open days and ask questions about everything. The tutors here are more than happy to chat; most of us have an industry background so can advise you on the best way to start building up your CV with some great event work experience.

If you are keen to get some experience in events, you’d be surprised how many event companies would welcome someone offering to volunteer for a day here and there. It’s about having the confidence to pick the phone up and ask.

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