Media success story

May 31, 1996

Ian Christie's curiously contradictory article on media and film studies ("Lights, cameras . . . no action", THES, May 24) will add to the growing file of clippings over the past two years in which the popularity of such courses is treated to hostile, and often sneering condemnation.

Though established and successful for 30 years now, the courses' continued and accelerating growth in the explosion of undergraduate numbers since 1990, continues to draw fire both from within academia and without. This is a great pity. Students are attracted to such courses not only because of their promise of glamorous employment. The student quoted in Christie's article had, happily, "soon worked out that this degree would be neither my ticket to the BBC nor my passport to Hollywood". No university course ever did dispense such tickets.

But as a report from the Standing Conference on Cultural, Communications, and Media Studies, to be published next month, will show, employment levels among graduates from such courses are high, and better than for other courses in the social sciences and humanities. That such employment reaches beyond the vocationally obvious is tribute to the academic rigour, generic intellectual training, and high entrance and achievement standards, that employers are now recognising in these degrees.

Later this summer every school in Britain will receive, via its UCAS mailing, a pamphlet from the standing conference explaining the variety and extremely diverse contents of cultural and media studies courses. Dr Christie should take heart and listen to the more positive aspects of his own advice. The centrality of communications and information in our culture and economy make the study of the associated industries (and their products), whether vocationally or theoretically, a vital piece in the higher education jigsaw. This is a huge success story in British academia and we should remind them of that fact.

Peter Golding Chair Standing Conference on Cultural, Communications and Media Studies in Higher Education

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