The pass rate for the National Qualification in Journalism has risen to a record-equalling 72pc, the latest results have revealed.
A total of 90 candidates sat the exams on 6 March at nine centres across the UK and 65 candidates passed them all to achieve senior status.
The pass rate of 72pc equals the previous record from July last year and betters the 67pc achieved this time last year.
The final National Certificate Examination for sports reporters was also held on the same date, with four out of the five candidates achieving senior status, but the qualification is now being scrapped due to a lack of demand.
According to the NCTJ, fewer trainee journalists are specialising in sport at an early stage in their careers, instead working in general news first.
It urged sports editors to put their trainees through the general NQJ exam in future.
Commenting on the 72pc pass rate, NQJ chief examiner Steve Nelson said: “I am absolutely delighted for these candidates. In offering my congratulations, I think it is worth reminding ourselves of just how tough these exams continue to be.
“Candidates face three exams – media law and practice, news report and news interview – over the course of a day, on top of having to produce a logbook of material generated over at least an 18-month period.
“They are now invariably multi-skilled working across different platforms and are facing perhaps more pressure and requirements than ever before to be competent in dealing with legal and ethical issues.
“These requirements and abilities are all tested in the exams, which represent the gold standard in journalism.”
Commenting on the discontinuation of the sports qualification, Dave King, chief examiner for the sports NCE, said: “Although the number of students taking the NCTJ sports journalism option at diploma level remains high, fewer trainee journalists are specialising at an early stage of their career and are instead cutting their teeth in general news before making a permanent move to the sports desk.
“It is hoped that with new format NQJ exams, sports editors don’t neglect the need for proper training and mentoring of their staff and that they will, in future, put their trainees through the new all-round qualification for journalists which remains a rigorous test of journalism standards.”
Those who passed their NQJ exams included Becky Parker and Katie Richardson, who were both recipients of the Journalism Diversity Fund – which was set up to support the training of those from diverse backgrounds.
Becky won a bursary in 2012 to study at Cardiff University and is now working as a reporter for the Weston Worle & Somerset Mercury.
And Katie completed her preliminary training at News Associates London in 2013 and now works as a reporter for the Northern Echo.
She said: “I was thrilled to find out I’d passed my senior exams, it’s been a tough couple of years with three different jobs and late nights revising so the sense of relief was great when I got the news.
“I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without the help of the Journalism Diversity Fund who had faith in me, probably more than myself, so I will always be eternally grateful that I got that chance.”
The full list of newly-qualified seniors is:
Tom Ambrose, Richmond & Twickenham Times
Rhodri Andrews, Bracknell News
Megan Jane Archer, Wiltshire & Gloucester Standard
Sophie Arnold, Leigh Journal
Charlotte Austen-Hardy, Chelmsford Weekly News
Christopher Baynes, Croydon Guardian
Henry Bodkin, Aldershot News & Mail
Peter Michael Brown, North Devon Journal
Sophie Brownson, South Wales Argus
Hannah Bryan, Gazette & Herald
Tara May Cox, Dorset Echo
Edmund Crosthwaite, East Anglian Daily Times
Jeremy Culley, The Bolton News
Cara Cunningham, Knutsford Guardian
Katie Dickinson, The Westmorland Gazette
Sean-Paul Doran, Sevenoaks Chronicle
Charlotte Duncker, Congleton Chronicle
Christopher Dyer, Essex Chronicle
Lucy Elder, Maidenhead Advertiser
Jonathan Evely, Rutland and Stamford Mercury
Ben Fishwick, The News, Portsmouth
Dominic Gilbert, Swindon Advertiser
Faye Greenwell, North Devon Journal
Richard Guttridge, Express & Star
Jenny Hanson, The Western Telegraph
Michael Havis, Hertfordshire Mercury
Neil Hawkins, Evening Echo Newspapers, Basildon
Lauren Howard, Hampshire Chronicle
Charlotte Ikonen, Watford Observer
Lee Irving, Dorset Echo
Benjamin Joel Jackson, North West Evening Mail
Andrew Jameson, Croydon Advertiser
Rebecca Jones, South Wales Evening Post
Joseph Kasper, Dover Express
Dean Kilpatrick, Folkstone Herald
Luke Matthews, Maidenhead Advertiser
Kathleen Moore, Hexham Courant
Danielle Anne Morris, Somerset County Gazette
Lauren Nash, Hunts Post
Grace Newton, The Retford Times
Chad Nugent, Harwich & Manningtree Standard
Becky Parker, Weston Worle & Somerset Mercury
Katie Pavid, Bristol Evening Post
Rebecca Pearson, Southern Daily Echo
Elisha Pilmoor, The News, Portsmouth
Oliver Porritt, Sevenoaks Chronicle
Jamie Presland, Henley Standard
Katie Richardson, The Northern Echo
Joe Riddle, Salisbury Journal
Jonathan Robinson, North West Evening Mail
Natalie Robinson, Cambridge News
Thomas Scargill, Halifax Evening Courier
Vickie Scullard, The Bolton News
Fuchsia Singleton-Hoare, Mid Somerset Newspapers
Alexander Smith, The Sentinel
Emily Stott, East Kent Mercury
Matthew Strudwick, Surrey Advertiser
Stephen Sumner, Sidmouth Herald
Laura Neve Tacey, Halifax Evening Courier
Anna Verdon, Courier Media Group
Nadejda Vidinova, Evening Telegraph, Dundee
Peter Walker, Essex Chronicle
Christopher Lawrence Warne, Freelance
Caroline Wilson, Lincolnshire Echo
Beth Wyatt, Romford Recorder
The newly-qualified sports journalists are:
Robert Iles, Gloucestershire Echo
Thomas McCooey, Wigan Evening Post
Edward White, Harrogate Advertiser