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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

The Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) is to set up an Institute of Wines and Spirits for students and graduates of the trust's Diploma. The WSET is also setting up a global campus' on its website for its students, with a special membership area for students and holders of its Level 4 Diploma. WSET chief executive Ian Harris said: We have a unique opportunity to create an organisation which adds value to the industry we were set up to serve in 1969, by ensuring that people working in the industry have the latest up-to-date news, information and education available to them, thereby raising the level of professionalism in the industry.' There will be three categories of membership: student (registered before training); associate (diploma graduate); and honorary (exceptional cases). Students pay an initial fee of 75, which will include the annual 30 fee for student membership. For existing diploma graduates, the cost will be 50. Diploma holders from 1998 will be the first to be contacted, as the trust has their details on its database. It will then trawl back to 1995 and all manual records will be scrutinised. Harris said the institute will provide an information platform, a marketing platform for WSET programmes and events, and other benefits, including career development and networking opportunities. There will be a forum for members to air their views; a chat room for classes on-line, controlled by a tutor; and a job shop with vacancies. Since 1969, more than 7,000 people have passed the WSET Diploma and 100,000 globally have studied for one of its qualifications. The initiative intends to: strengthen the link with and awareness of the WSET; increase desirability of the WSET Diploma; be a cheaper, more effective way of distributing information; and reinvest income from overseas members in those markets to fund international events and to better inform students. The institute will be a trading division, like the school and awards within the WSET. Attainment of membership of the institute must be sought-after and ultimately rewarding for the member, otherwise the initiative will have no value,' Harris added.