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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) chief executive, Ian Harris, will be broadening the net' in his search for corporate support. Addressing guests at the WSET Awards of Excellence 2002, at Vintners' Hall in London on 28 October, he said: Whilst we are injecting a more commercial and pro-active slant to the Trust, the time has come for us to seek funding from the industry in order to invest in the changes demanded by the industry. I am therefore approaching the companies who will benefit most in the long term from a more up-to-date and flexible approach to wines and spirits product training.' He urged guests to give the WSET Corporate Patronage and Sponsorship Prospectus their fullest consideration'. He said, As a marketing man, I understand the need to see a return on your investment. As a patron/sponsor of the WSET, I can guarantee that any company would see the benefits in the short, medium and long term.' He later told Harpers, I would far rather have more students sponsored by their companies, which would alleviate the need to seek corporate sponsorship. But in the short term an influx is needed to make the changes.' Describing revisions to the WSET syllabus designed to keep our courses and qualifications relevant and up to date', he said there would be an increased focus on commercial factors and growing market sectors, especially the New World'. At Diploma level, project-based assessment will be introduced, and two of the seven modules will be adapted to make them more relevant to the growing number of students outside the UK. Some 40% of the 1,126 Diploma students in 2002 are overseas. At all WSET levels, there are now 11,000 students at 20 centres worldwide. Adding Chile and the Netherlands, and expanding programmes in the US and Japan, are key goals. Jancis Robinson MW, a former winner of the top Diploma prize, the Rouyer Guillet Cup, presented the awards. She said that she welcomed the new prizes which have been added over recent years, and the introduction of tasting as part of the Advanced Certificate. She also approved of plans for closer co-operation between the WSET and the Institute of Masters of Wine, describing them as long overdue'.