This week’s Object is the Bradford University film, “Potential Graduate”. It is one of the best-loved items in Special Collections, and one that has found fresh life and popularity online. See it for yourself on the YFA online project website.
“Potential Graduate” was made by Bradford University’s Audio-Visual Unit between 1968 and 1970. The University was then very new, having received its Charter in 1966, and eager to attract potential students. The film, made in colour, showed the new city campus, the sporting and social activities available to students (choral singing, pot-holing), teaching methods, and exams.
It finishes with a 1970 graduation ceremony, in which students receive their degrees from then Chancellor Sir Harold Wilson.
The film is popular because it gives a wonderful and rare insight into student life at Bradford. On one level it is full of enjoyable period detail (car-free roads, mums in retro spectacles and hats, mini-skirts, beer in dimpled glasses, ash-trays everywhere, and the wonderful videotronic machine).
But if you look beyond this, the modern University is recognisable: the graduation ceremony could be now if not for the hats; and even then we emphasised links with industry, community engagement, and care for student well-being.
Film is a difficult medium to manage: it needs particular care and special equipment to view it. A decision was taken in the 1990s to house some of our University Archive film at the specialist Yorkshire Film Archive, who have much better facilities for caring for film than we could offer. We were delighted when more recently the Archive decided to make the film available online as part of a Heritage Lottery funded project.