Around 40 journalism students in NUI Galway are being refunded for fees due to concerns over the quality of the course.
Almost 40 undergraduate journalism students in both third and fourth year have been granted a refund costing the college over €100,000.
Concerns arose due to complaints of lack of work placement and a lack in communication with course coordinators.
NUIG’s complaints board found that students were “negatively impacted on the educational experience”.
It also said that there had been a “significant lack of leadership” among staff in the course, which has been acknowledged by them.
“In terms of developing newer media skills that is where the course fell short, for instance areas such as social media management, data analytics and verification weren’t focused on enough but now with a new department head and a restructured course students have the tools they need,” said Aileen O’Leary, a third year NUIG journalism student.
“It’s just a shame these topics weren’t focused on during my time there. Ultimately it was communication or the lack of it I should say that was the main issue. We weren’t getting answers, we were getting a vague response from our course director at the time and it was frustrating not just for myself but my classmates as well,” continued O’Leary.
A new director for the course has been appointed and is expected to significantly enhance feedback.
“The ambitions of the relaunched programme are to produce graduates with up to date skills and specialisations suited to the contemporary world of journalism,” NUIG said in a statement.
“It was really exposed in the 3rd year of the course which was 100 per cent journalism based and students were supposed to take part in work experience or Erasmus/oversees work placement all year. Some people fell through the cracks here and there was very little help from the college as it was all put on one person to organise each individual case,” said Cathy Lee, a final year NUIG journalism student.
Students submitted concerns over the last academic year as they felt they were not receiving the best standard of education from the course as well as the issues with placement.
“Third year was a total mess. We had the option to do two six week courses that met for roughly 6 hours a week, Erasmus, or work placement. Nobody got any support and many people paid college fees and accommodation fees that didn’t seem warranted,” said Olivia Hanna, a third year NUIG journalism student.
“I do worry that I won’t be as qualified as other people who have gone to places like DCU and didn’t have this experience. For us a lot of what we learned was self motivated so I don’t think we are as prepared to be competitive in the field,” Hanna continued.
A revised MA programme is also due to launch in the coming September, focusing on verification, social media and data journalism.
There will also be a MA in Sports Journalism being offered in 2019 along with a reformed joint honours BA in journalism which will replace the existing course.
By Ellen Fitzpatrick
Image credit: Broadsheet