Kirstie Allsopp’s University Challenge

TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp sparked an online debate in September, after questioning the value of event management degrees on Twitter.

While it’s true that you can start from the bottom of a company and work your way up, it takes time and patience, and can often begin in unpaid work. Equal kudos to those who gained experience in the working world without a degree and to those who have studied at university – there is no need to discredit either one of them.

Allsopp, sometimes there is more to life than money.

Sometimes, it’s about experience – whether it’s work experience or life experience. Who made Allsopp a careers adviser? Perhaps a fundamental ignorance on the subject is at the root of this controversy.

In this fast-moving profession (which demands a lot of hard work and dynamism), you need to be multi-skilled in areas such as marketing for events, financial reporting, project planning, event bidding, lobbying, politics, professional societies, corporate world and consumer behaviour – all of which you can learn in an events management course.

After chairing an impromptu online debate – almost like a Twitter tennis match – the Location Location Location’s host dug herself a further hole tweeting: “I do believe in tertiary education, I just don’t believe in paying for something you could learn on the job. So many degrees are a rip-off.”

While many supported Allsopp’s views, others were quick to point out that many agencies show preference to degree-holders.

International events management student and event blogger Hatty Grant said: “It’s still important to understand events from the theoretical side as it gives a greater understanding of how the industry works and why one event is successful and another isn’t. My degree was really helpful in giving me knowledge that I could apply to my placement.”

Conference producer at Forum Business Media, Philippa Hallam, also got in touch with We Blog Events, lending her support for the event management students.

“I graduated this July with an Events Management degree and am now working as a conference producer in London – a position I would not have gained had I not attended university,” Hallam said. “I decided not to go to university straight away after college, instead gaining some valuable work experience in customer service.

“Once deciding to study events management two years later, I realised how beneficial the degree was: Learning about the events industry in-depth, developing a passion for what the industry represents and also how to manage and run a successful business.

“I was angry with Kirstie Allsopp’s tweet. Each person has the right to make their own decisions in life; mine was to study events management and I’ve not looked back since! I am now settling into my chosen career and look forward to what the future may hold.”

For Becki Cross, Events Northern Ltd MD, university was much more than just the course content, she explains in her blog:


As I said in my column in October’s Exhibition News, the whole situation made me spit out my much loved coffee. Let’s not forget Britain’s self-style craft queen’s ridiculous comments earlier this year in an interview with The Telegraph, questioning the need for female education. She broadly summarised her latest vision for modern womanhood in the interview:

“I don’t have a girl, but if I did I’d be saying ‘Darling, do you know what? Don’t go to university. Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit – I’ll help you, let’s get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27’.”

Furthermore, if – as Allsopp suggests – people should leave school and go straight into events management, maybe she should also suggest where the funding for this is going to come from?

As event management graduate Caitlin Kobrak said in her blog: “Rather than saying what is ‘wrong‘ with event degrees, we need to be discussing how to develop the courses so students are getting the best education and event professionals gain graduates with the best skills, abilities and knowledge! The crazy thing is that this can happen, these debates allow for all people in the event industry to talk with each other and share their opinions and viewpoints.”

Hear hear.

What do you think of Kirstie Allsopp’s tweets? Comment below to let us know what you think.

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