The stars aligned for five College of Business, Government and Law alumni recently, who after many years spread across the globe, took the opportunity to reconnect through a tour of the Bedford Park Campus.
It had been almost 40 years since the ex-classmates set foot on the grounds and judging by the reaction to the modern, multi-level spaces and amphitheatre-style plaza, much has changed!
“My pulse raced when I saw the old sports centre, which is where we used to do our exams!” said John Rasheed (BSc ’79, DipAcc ’83).
Exams were a hot topic, with Jim Hope Murray (BA ’82, DipAcc ’83) explaining, “The gym had a metal roof, so November exams when it was 40 degrees outside, would have surely been 45 inside – God, it was hot!”
“It is good to see lifts in buildings and other accessible options,” said Elizabeth Moran (DipAcc ’83).
“I also caught the train here to test it out, so having the connector bus to drop you up the hill was nice.
“The childcare centre was really important to me as my children went there when I studied.”
Although the infrastructure may have left a little to be desired, all five reminisce with joy about the time they spent at Flinders and just how important it was to their careers.
“Studying here was most definitely a steppingstone into my career, it changed my life – the two years at Flinders were actually the happiest two years of my life,” said Elizabeth.
“I would back that up, I think that first year when we were here full time doing our degree is one of my fondest memories of learning,” said David Blanch (BEc ’79, DipAcc ’83).
“The good thing about the course was in those days, there was only about 30 or so people doing it, so you got to know everybody on the course, you got to know your lecturers and tutors really well.”
At the time, students regarded a place in the course as a golden ticket into the finance sector, gaining access to some highly respected lecturers.
“Holding the Diploma in Accounting did open so many opportunities and not necessarily in the world of accounting,” said Alex Sawka (BA ’79, DipAcc ’83).
“The course was respected amongst employers. It was practical; one could practise accounting albeit at a base level immediately so you could get a job in almost any industry and earn an income.”
There was one major positive of the era that all agreed was a catalyst in getting them where they wanted to be in life.
“What we did have was free education, we were very lucky to be in that goldilocks period of no HECS debt,” said Jim.
“Before us, you had very restricted places and Commonwealth scholarships through the 60s and early 70s, then Whitlam basically opened it up with accessible tertiary education for all.
“I’m not sure I would have got to uni without it – I was actually the first in my family to achieve a degree.”
Although not the first in her family, it was still a formative part of the path Elizabeth chose for her career.
“Being female, my parents would have paid for me to study the course they think I should do, not what I may have wanted to do,” she said.
Given the hiatus of almost four decades, the group agreed it felt almost like yesterday that they were sitting in the lecture theatre together.
“I think the reason we look back on our course so fondly is because we were the pioneers and when we did accounting, there wasn’t an accounting degree for example, so the only way to become an accountant was through postgrad study as we did,” said David.
“We were a group of highly motivated, bright people setting the basis for what we have today. We suffered but got a lot from it as well!”