This has been popping up so much recently that I thought would be interesting discussion and see what others make of it. Staffordshire University have been running a 'Visitor Attraction & Resort Management' course for a while now. Some people interested in joining the theme park industry when they reach that time in their life often don't know what to do, because it's quite an obscure industry to get into, so this course could seem an attractive route for them. Like any course, you're always going to get some who are in it because it 'sounds good' and others who genuinly have talent, but setting that aside, what actually is this degree? It appears geared towards the most degree-appropriate aspect of the theme park industry – leisure management, which includes a load of legal responsibility, complex strategy, etc. So far so good – not just a pointless 'Theme Park degree' adding to the long list of useless degrees on offer today then. All other aspects of theme park industry, in my opinion, are much better learnt with practical experience and skill (either that, or they aren't unique to theme parks anyway, eg marketing). The course includes weeks placement in different areas of nearby Alton Towers. Any practical experience in a degree is very valuable in my experience. While Alton Towers I'm sure is an amazing operation to learn experience in, is the park's current operation the standard that future leisure managers should learn from? Then something seems odd about this whole arrangement. The ties with Alton Towers are very close, but does the course give other points of view? Alton Towers is just one theme park – to get a wider experience of leisure management you'd have to explore outside Merlin for sure. "This unique course is taught in partnership with Alton Towers Resort, part of the World renowned Merlin Group." Yeah, not exactly renowned in a good way. Who are the guest lecturers, are they all from Merlin, or other organisations as well? Are students being challenged on the subject of leisure management, or is this just Alton Towers' way of funneling in staff through a degree programme with its local uni? Let's not forget this all began with Nick Varney getting an honorary degree for services to the leisure industry. I don't think this even needs a comment from me. Merlin already do a rather questionable internal 'Merlin degree', where they put staff in temp management positions between their midways and parks. Rather than actually become talented leisure managers, it seems like a lengthy adventure into the 'Merlin way', so that Merlin ensures they get the kind of managers they want running their parks, thinking the way they want. It would seem that, once you've done this course, all it does is fastrack you to being a manager without the necessary life-learnt experience and encourage you to never leave for the competition. So is this degree going to be different and do what a degree should do, to challenge perceptions, grow talent – qualify its students to be great leisure managers, or to just be Merlin leisure managers? Either way, I think what's important is that there are people running the industry with passion, guts, management talent and who see the bigger picture. Make good business out of good entertainment, not cut entertainment to its minimum to inflate profits and then plaster the wound with marketing hyperbole.