Cardiff newspaper course tops first NCTJ league table

The postgraduate newspaper course at Cardiff University has been named the best in the country by the industry body that accredits journalism training.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists said the Cardiff course was the best-performing last year, with 73 per cent of students gaining at least a C-grade in the preliminary certificate, which is widely seen as the industry standard for new entrants.

The winners in the league tables were revealed last night at a dinner for journalism trainers in Salford, Greater Manchester, ahead of the NCTJ‘s journalism skills conference today.

It is the first time that the NCTJ has officially published rankings of the 70 courses it accredits based on exam results.

Highbury College in Portsmouth was named the best fast-track course run by a college or university, with 30 per cent of students meeting the industry standard.

The preliminary certificate includes modules covering news writing, media law, public affairs and shorthand.

PA Training won best commercial fast-track course for its journalism foundation course in Newcastle, where students achieved a 56 per cent pass rate.

The best-performing undergraduate programme was that offered by the University of Sheffield, and the fast-track course at City College in Brighton won best magazine journalism course.

Liverpool Community College, the photography course at Sheffield College and the sub-editing training offered by The Journalist Works in Brighton were also singled out by the NCTJ for the results achieved by students.

Tough qualification

NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher said: “At a time when many industries are complaining about a dumbing down in education, the preliminary certificate in journalism remains one of this country’s toughest pre-entry qualifications.

“It requires huge amounts of ability, persistence and determination – the very qualities most editors want in their newsroom trainees.

‘It is no mean feat to achieve accreditation and to make the public commitment to providing all the NCTJ expects.

“We know how demanding and exacting the standard is and that in many ways it’s much easier to stand outside the industry’s training scheme free from scrutiny.’

Press Gazette revealed in April this year that the NCTJ was to begin publishing annual league tables naming the UK’s best and worst-performing journalism courses.

The online guide is designed to help would-be journalism students make accurate comparisons based on exam results – and eventually other factors such as price.

‘We feel students are entitled to look at all the courses we offer and make a judgement on which one is best suited for them,’NCTJ head of accreditation Stephen Chambers told Press Gazette at the time.

‘Students should be able to make an informed choice about which course is right. What we want is total transparency.”

The NCTJ accredits about a broad range of courses – from theory-based undergraduate degree schemes to intensive vocational courses.

The full league tables – based on exam results from accredited courses in the last academic year – will be published on the NCTJ website later this month.

Contribution to training

A South Wales Evening Post journalist has been recognised for her contribution to journalism training at the NCTJ journalism skills conference in Salford.

Assistant editor Cathy Duncan, who oversees all of the paper’s editorial training and is also the NCTJ’s chief examiner for sub-editing, was presented with the NCTJ Chairman’s Award at a dinner last night.

NCTJ chairman Kim Fletcher said: “On her paper, she has greatly assisted and inspired trainee journalists.

“As an all-round contributor to journalism training, her energy and commitment are first class.”

Evening Post editor Spencer Feeney added: “Cathy is one of a rare breed – a journalist with an interest in training that extends beyond getting the NCE [national certificate examination] out of the way.”

“Most recently she has sourced a series of video reporting courses to allow us to prepare our staff for the challenges and opportunities of our multimedia future.”

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