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Should lecturers at a Birmingham college be forced to stick to strict dress standards? Absolutely, says Andy Munro.

According to the papers, lecturers at the new Birmingham Metropolitan College have apparently been told to dress smart and this has apparently upset the Lecturers’ Union who are reportedly ‘astonished’ at this ‘dictat’ which doesn’t allow visible tattoos,sloganned T shirts,jeans and scruffy trousers.

They’re probably ‘astonished’because they’re on another planet which unfortunately isn’t Planet Workplace.

If they’re supposed to be setting an example to hundreds of impressionable students,it seems to me a fair call to ensure that they are decently turned out in a formal sense. Let’s face it if a student shambles into a job interview, they’ll soon find out that employers can afford to be selective in these hard times and it’s the first impression that counts.

Maybe the wheel has turned a full circle…when I joined the Civil Service for my first job in 1968, I wore a jacket, smart trousers, shirt and tie until I could afford a coveted suit.

In those days,for most people starting out, buying a suit was a choice limited to a place like Nelson House where you could buy something slightly shiny that had to be degreased after a fortnight’s wear.

Alternatively the next step up the style ladder was a suit from Burton’s but the general convention was that chaps should be formally dressed unless in manual jobs. At that time women were expected to wear skirts(remember that this was in the days of the miniskirt and unsurprisingly this was strictly enforced by the male dominated management).

Eventually they were allowed to wear trousers but they had to be part of a suit. Eventually the rules were relaxed for both men and women who could wear jeans as long as they weren’t faded. I remember one member of management making a girl walk up and down the office to allegedly decide if the jeans were fit for purpose! The next step was to allow T shirts without slogans which is where we now come in again.

Personally I think that anybody in a position of responsibility, whether it’s a lawyer or a lecturer should be formally dressed and wearing T shirts, jeans etc encourages a sloppy casual attitude sending out the wrong signals to both their own juniors or customers/clients.

Maybe I’m just an old reactionary who will be accused of fashion fascism by the pc sandals brigade??

See Sam Ross' response here


Andy Munro would like to point out that 'my views are personal and not those of the City Council'


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