As students across the country received their A-Level results yesterday, the annual debate on the worthiness of undergraduate journalism courses raged on.
Some 16,324 applications were made for journalism degrees this year – just up on last year’s figure of 15,877. This 0.4 per cent rise was far below the average 3.1 per cent increase in applications for undergraduate courses in general.
Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) figures also show the number of applications for media studies courses rose by nearly 18 per cent from 24,980 to 29,402.
With this in mind, Press Gazette asked its Twitter followers if journalism undergraduate degrees are worth doing. Here are a selection of tweets:
- Daily Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher
- Financial Times editor Lionel Barber:
- Independent editor Amol Rajan:
- Former Loaded editor Martin Daubney:
In the face of such criticism, journalism lecturers leapt to the defence of their courses. Admissions tutor for the University of Sheffield’s Department of Journalism, Katie Stewart, told Press Gazette that journalism undergraduates are equipped with “specific journalism skills” which they do not get from other courses.
“They will get their media law training, shorthand, public admin", she said. "We emphasise our ties with the community so that students are getting stories right from the start, engaging with life beyond the campus and building up their contacts, and that really helps students’ confidence”.
Former News of the World journalist Bethany Usher, who runs an undergraduate journalism course at Teesside University, admitted some courses are too expensive and of poor standard, but said no generalisations should be made. And she was backed up by fellow journalism lecturers Tim Luckhurst, of Kent University, and Beth Brewster, of Kingston University.
Media and journalism lecturer at Birmingham City University, Sue Heseltine, confirmed that the rise in applications was reflected at her institution this year. “Our students continue to get jobs”, she said, “and their optimism is borne out, even if they might not get jobs in the areas they think they will when they start out,"
She said her journalism degree “helps them develop creatively and gain the intellectual capacity to help them progress in their journalism careers”.
Beth Motherwell, a journalism undergraduate at Birmingham City University, told Press Gazette that she felt her course had given her “amazing training and experience for my future career”.
“I have taken several modules about different aspects of journalism (feature, news, online and broadcast)," she said.
"This has given me a well rounded view of the many different career paths available. I have also taken some PR modules which I think is really beneficial as I have a strong understanding of how the PR industry works… which can only be a good thing as a journalist.
“Working with people who are already in the industry has taught me a lot and given me so many amazing connections. I would never have gained my placement at the Express and Star if it wasn't for university.”