Oct 7, 2009
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College issues dress guidelines - for teachers

Oct 7, 2009

By Georgina Cooper

LONDON (Reuters Life!) It is normally students who are sent home for inappropriate attire, but one English college is threatening to send lecturers home for violating a dress code, which includes a ban on jeans.

Their union has accused Birmingham Metropolitan College of "acting like the fashion police."

The newly re-issued dress code requires lecturers to wear a "business suit; smart jacket and co-ordinating trousers or skirt; smart shirt/top/blouse or smart dress."

Scruffy trousers, jeans, ostentatious jewelry and outrageous hair styles and colors are strictly banned.

Earrings must not be excessive and are the only form of jewelry allowed in visible piercings. The policy also states that tattoos must be covered.

Nick Varney of the local University and College Union (UCU) branch said the policy "harks back to Victorian times." He told Reuters he has never seen staff so angry.

"They are absolutely fuming. It's about their professionalism and the notion that they haven't got a clue about what to wear when they are teaching," Varney said.

The guidelines are a far cry from the stereotypical image of a college lecturer as a slightly scruffy, chalk-dusted individual wearing corduroy jackets with torn leather elbow pads.

In the policy, the college says: "The College is a professional and business-like organization and staff have a responsibility to uphold and promote these values in their dress and appearance."

The UCU accused the dress code of being possibly discriminatory and subjective.

"Has diversity and the celebration of cultural differences totally passed them by?" asked Varney.

Lecturers are due to meet with the college principal this week. The UCU is demanding the policy be withdrawn.

(Editing by Steve Addison)

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