The start of a new academic year is always a bit chaotic but this year you have to feel for all the staff at the BSLT. As the new students arrived there was total confusion caused by the new Home Office Visa rules taking applications that used to take days into weeks and months. Did you ever realise that every leather chemist was a potential threat to the UK? On reflection I should withdraw that question: I had enough problems at University myself. The Government does need to do something about this. Pakistan has been sending students to the UK for all of the 100 years of leather education, has a huge raw material supply underpinning a major leather industry, and one or two really world class leather organisations.
At the same time the refurbishment of the teaching rooms and the lobby is just completing. Luckily enough has been done for all the rooms to be used and are already looking like a huge improvement, but there is a lot of tidying up and completion yet to be done.
It is good to see a steady growth in European students with France and Italy beginning to figure quite strongly. We have not made a breakthrough into the old East European countries yet, which is a disappointment given that they all have strong historical interests in leather and significant industries today. Also with the growing strength of the www.northamptonshireleather.com activity and the ability of the University to address the whole supply chain might well start to get UK students coming in who are not affiliated to major tanneries as in the past. The leather industry is really a very exciting place to work.
In amongst al this it was delight to welcome a senior delegation from the Brazilian leather industry, and to realise how much there is to show such a group not only in the University but in Northampton as a whole. They did visit the BLC and SATRA as well as the BSLT but with the University alone also having Waste Management, Fashion, Product Design, Podiatry and the Leather Conservation centre a couple of hours in the Leathersellers Building is hardly enough. Northampton with 100 leather organisations in the county is now actually a great destination for anyone in the leather industry planning a visit with time to let us know.
Hopefully the President of the CICB (Brazilian Tanners Association) Mr Wolfgang Goerlich and his team enjoyed their visit. It was certainly entertaining and useful for the University and the BSLT to join with them to discuss environmental issues, research and some of the global issues in the industry these days.
And particularly good to have a better looking facility to do it all in. Progress can be good.
05 October 2009