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Applications for journalism degrees rise to nearly 15,000

Applicants for undergraduate journalism degrees have risen by 1.4pc this year, after a fall of almost 20pc in 2012.

The number of applications from aspiring journalists for courses starting this autumn rose slightly to 14,820, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

It follows a 19.4pc drop in the number of applicants for full-time undergraduate journalism courses last year from the 2011 high of 18,129 to 14,609.

The fall was thought to be partly down to the rise in tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 having previously been capped at £3,000.

UCAS has reported a rise of 3.5pc overall for applications in all subjects before its 15 January deadline, after reporting a 7.4pc decline in applicants a year ago.

Chief executive Mary Curnock Cook said: “This is an encouraging report, with no double-dip for applications and continuing improvements for disadvantaged groups. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are 80pc more likely to apply than a decade ago.”

Joanne Butcher, chief executive at the National Council for the Training of Journalists, said: “While overall applications to undergraduate journalism courses may be below the average, NCTJ-accredited courses I have visited recently are reporting high numbers of applications and appear to be bucking this trend.
“When I spoke at the Society of Editors’ Conference last year I highlighted the scandal of young people completing expensive courses that do not provide them with the qualifications sought by employers or equip them with the skills required to work in journalism.

“With the rise in tuition fees, students are becoming more discerning and NCTJ-accreditation and qualifications are more important than ever.
“The NCTJ also continues to support alternative routes into journalism careers and young people have the option of studying fast-track and academic year courses at colleges and independent providers as well as the new foundation courses and apprenticeships which are being introduced this year.”
At the SoE conference last November, a survey into journalism training was published and showed editors believed there were too many courses for the number of jobs available.

The survey by the SoE showed more than three-quarters of those who responded said they thought an undergraduate degree was not essential to be a journalist.

At the time, Joanne said: “It is a disgrace to see so many young people completing expensive courses and passing bogus qualifications that just don’t provide them with the vocational skills they need to get jobs or qualifications that editors have any faith in. We owe it to them to expose this scandal.”


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  • February 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Before I knock as usual, can someone tell me how many jobs relating to journalism there are available on a yearly basis? And how many of those jobs would recruit people with a journalism degree? Because it will be very irresponsible to offer courses to ‘disadvantaged’ groups if the chances of work related to these courses are practically non-existent. They could and should be encouraged to do the types of degrees that employers want, not flimsy ‘fun’ courses that have little or no prospect of employment afterwards.

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  • February 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    I see what Joanne Butcher is saying, and believe some degrees may not be relevant if they are more academically founded. However I completed an BA in Multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University with my NCTJs as part of the course and do not believe I would have landed my first job without it so soon (1 month) after graduating.
    The course was very vocational, lots of work experience and being thrown in at the deep end. I specifically chose this course because it would enable me to hit the ground running and gain my NCTJs at the same time as gaining real experience.
    Although I was lucky to complete this before the hike in fees, I would argue that it definitely was relevant for me. However, if you can afford to intern and offer to work for free for experience, I’d say this would be a good alternative to gain experience.

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  • February 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm


    Congratulations on finding a job so quickly!
    Joanne was highlighting the issues with courses that do not teach the vocational skills required by employers. All NCTJ-accredited courses, including undergraduate degrees such as yours, will cover these skills and provide real-world experience.

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  • February 14, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Obviously this lot don’t read the news or trade websites like this one! If they want to get starting pay if

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  • February 14, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Think wider. I’ve been in the media business all my career, unashamedley in commercial sales. My son will be taking up a Journalism degree this autumn, which I’m so proud to state. However, whilst my heart has been in the printed world, quite rightly he sees an NCT-J qualification as a window into expressing and investigatng viewpoints, opinions and stories, through print, digital, broadcast, commentary, news production and public relations. He’s thinking wide – I wonder who’s going to grab his career attention?

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  • February 18, 2013 at 11:30 am

    The NCTJ has regained its reputation under Joanne’s leadership and is a highly sought-after qualification in the regional press.

    However, there are two other accrediting bodies covering the better paid areas of journalism – magazines (the Periodical Training Council) and broadcasting (the Broadcast Journalism Training Council).

    All courses accredited by one of these three organisations can be trusted.

    There are other courses too that have not sought accreditation and yet produce high quality graduates and have a strong history of their graduates getting good jobs in journalism.

    It does make choosing a course difficult. The NUJ provides ten questions prospective students can ask about courses to help them choose:

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