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College in U-turn over decision to scrap journalism course

Alasdair ClarkA college has reversed plans to scrap a journalism course half way through after pressure from students.

Journalism students at Fife College were told they would be unable to complete their NCTJ qualifications unless they transferred to another course in Sunderland, 155 miles away.

It followed the college’s decision to cancel the second year of a Higher National Diploma in practical journalism course – the year in which NCTJ exams are taken.

However the college has now agreed to reinstate the course for a further year fropm 2018 to 2019, although there is no guarantee it will run beyond that.

Fourteen students currently in the first year of their course were affected by the move, which came to light after a report in Dundee daily The Courier earlier this month.

Now the same newspaper has revealed that the college has backed down after the students pledged to write to Scottish higher education minister Shirley Anne-Somerville over the issue.

A college spokesperson said: “In June this year, Fife College decided to withdraw its HND course in Practical Journalism from 2018/19 due to a lack of demand for the course. The numbers on the course have been consistently low for several years making the course unsustainable financially.

“Students who enrolled on the HND course initially were made aware of this change in June, before the course began, with alternative options highlighted.

“Following recent representations from our students on the HNC Practical Journalism course, the college has decided to continue to run the HND for a further year into 2018/19,  thereby enabling students to continue their studies in Fife.

“The college is making no commitment at this stage beyond 2018/19 but the decision to give continuity to our students will give the college time to work with the industry and other stakeholders to decide how the course can be reshaped and promoted in future years to ensure it attracts sufficient numbers of students to make it viable.”

Student Alasdair Clark, pictured, told the Courier: “We are very pleased the college has reviewed their decision and will continue to deliver this course next year after engaging in a conversation with students.

“We hope that the industry will offer their help and support going forward to re-invigorate the course and increase interest from prospective students.”

The National Union of Journalists had also called on the college to reconsider its decision.

NUJ Scotland organiser Dominic Bascombe, said last week: “The closure of this course is a worrying situation for students hoping to develop the solid foundation they need to enter the industry. It is vital that students have the opportunity to study journalism.”