Film course cuts run deep

April 26, 1996

The squeeze on higher education funding is threatening film and television courses and potentially jeopardising their respective industries, academics fear.

Course organisers say that while funding cuts will hit all university departments, film and TV studies could suffer the most because of their reliance on expensive and rapidly changing technology.

Peter Metelerkamp, supervisor of Bristol University's MA in film and TV production, said: "A number of the newer universities have had transfers of funding on the basis of enormous student demand for these courses but what happens when that demand slows?" John Beacham, head of the media and communications department at Goldsmiths College in London, said: "It is difficult to keep pace with investment in new technology but having said that, I think the ways in which ideas are expressed are more important to industry."

While both these institutions are highly respected, industry bosses say that it is vital that other institutions invest in the latest, industry-standard equipment. They have also called for more teaching of practical skills, such as camera and editing work - something they claim is lacking in many media-related courses.

Paul Jackson, managing director of Carlton television, said: "The industry has changed so radically that a lot of the old skills are out-dated. So universities and colleges should now be investing in new industry-standard technology, especially since it is becoming cheaper.

"And where people are being brought in for courses, consideration has to be given to what potential employers want and they want practical experience. I want people who know the front end of a camera from the back."

Mr Jackson said that television and film-making was about to experience a multimedia explosion and that academic institutions had to keep pace with the associated computer technology.

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