Guest blog: Access to journalism courses offer a viable alternative to A-levels


Jamie Lewis is a journalist working for The Independent website and a former student at Truro College where he studied Access to Journalism

With A-level results out this month, I thought it would be useful to offer aspiring journalists an alternative way into the industry  that works.

A-level journalism doesn’t exist and forums such as The Student Room are flooded with 16-year-old wannabe hacks that aren’t sure what A-level subjects to take for a future degree in journalism.

Unfortunately, I remain clueless about what to tell teenagers as young as 16, but I can offer a suggestion to slightly more mature students.

The route I have in mind is an Access Course, a little-known course named as such because it grants its graduates access to university in the same way A-levels would. There are various subjects; nursing, law, science and humanities but, of course, the one we’re interested in here is journalism.

Access to Journalism provides foundation knowledge for those who hope to study for a degree in journalism in the future. It lasts for just a year compared to A-level courses (which last two) and even helps prepare you for upcoming student life.

Candidates for the course have rarely had any previous knowledge that this type of learning even existed until specifically searching for it online.

I spoke to Kat Wales, 23, who is about to start her undergraduate degree in journalism at City University as a result of her completion of Access to Journalism.

She said: ‘I’d never heard of access courses before but when I stumbled across them while looking at the Truro College website, I realised it was the perfect option for me.

‘By the end of the course I had gained a new found confidence as well as my diploma in journalism. Thanks to the course, I now have a place to study Journalism at City University, London.

‘A year ago, I thought I’d never have the drive, confidence and academic ability to go to university, but the access course was just what I needed to succeed.’

Paul Scott, a student who completed the course in Truro College at the age of 27 and graduated with a first from Falmouth University just three years later, told me how he found the course

‘The broad range of topics covered by Access to Journalism – accompanied by course leader Jane Stanley’s obvious passion for the subject – made learning both enjoyable and rewarding.

‘The course was the ideal preparation for the step up to university. Having gained knowledge of various aspects of journalism, from crafting news stories through to magazine production, I effectively hit the ground running. From that head-start I never looked back, three years later I graduated with first-class honours.”

Many students relocate for these courses as they are rather few and far between and, as such, interest year-on-year is dwindling. Whether it suits all applicants or not, I feel everyone should at least be aware of the training available to them. And who knows, turning up on day one of a journalism degree and knowing how to write a decent intro could come in handy.

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