Rod Rhodes

Professor of Government in the School of Government at the University of Tasmania, distinguished Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University, and Emeritus Professor of the University of Newcastle, Rod Rhodes, studied HNC in Business Studies at Bradford Technical College from 1962 to 1964.

Rod RhodesRod is the author or editor of 25 books; most recently, The Oxford Handbook of Political Institutions (joint editor, 2006), and Governance Stories (with Mark Bevir, 2006). He has been editor of Public Administration since 1986. He is Treasurer of the Australasian Political Studies Association, life Vice-President of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom, and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in both Australia and Britain.

“I worked as a clerk for Power Petroleum in Leeds. I got the Number 72 bus to Leeds at 7.25 and started work at 8.15. I was allowed to leave work ‘early’ at 5 pm so I could get the bus home in time for night school at the Tech. The drop out rate was horrendous. It was hardly surprising – 3 hours a night, 3 nights a week after a full working day. We were the survivors, and thought about it like that. I particularly recall walking from the Tech to Forster Square to get my bus home, I always went past a snooker club. The sounds of Love Me Do floated out from its juke box. It was the first time I heard The Beatles. I did not know that at the time – not until I heard them on the radio.

When I passed my HNC, I expected to be promoted at work. They promoted an older colleague who had failed his second year and would have to re-sit some courses. They also gave him time off for the resits! I remained a clerk. I saw the personnel manager and swore at him because I was so upset at the iniquity of it all. I was sent to see the Regional Manager. I was in deep trouble. White collar workers did not use the ‘f word’ to their boss. The Regional Manager was nice! He said: ‘If I was your father, I would tell you to get out of this dead end job and go to University’. Until then I had wanted to be a salesman with a company car - my horizons were limited!

Now a fellow student, John Munro, had always wanted to go to University and applied on the strength of his HNC. At that time, about 1 in 7 of the age group went. It was an elite system. There was an aura about going to University. I thought ‘bugger it’, if John can get in, so can I. My parents agreed to give me free B&B but I had to work for my spending money – clothes, books, beer. So, I applied to the new Business School at the then Bradford Institute of Advanced Technology. Tom Kempner interviewed me. I remember him being amused. No doubt I was gauche, revealing with every sentence how little I knew about universities. But he accepted me, signed the forms to get me a student grant, and took an amiable interest in my doings for the next 3 years. So, the HNC was my passport out of Power Petroleum, Bradford and a career as a petroleum salesman.”

Photograph supplied by Rod Rhodes