Sector is given big brush-off by media

January 12, 2001

Schools issues are pushing higher education off the news agenda, according to student leaders.

Student union activists say they are finding it hard to get the media to address higher education issues.

Ruth Clarke, communications officer at Leeds University students' union, was in the audience for ITV's one-off Ask The Prime Minister and a recent edition of Question Time featuring education secretary David Blunkett.

On both occasions, she got the brush-off when she tried to ask questions:

"We have got some pretty intelligent questions to ask, but nobody will listen."

Scott Rice, president of University of London Union, agreed: "TV companies fall over themselves to attract students when they need contestants for gameshows, but they aren't interested when we've got something serious to say."

A National Union of Students spokeswoman said schools stories got more coverage because "they are more emotional and impact on more people".

Roger Grosvenor of Cardiff University's school of engineering told The THES that the recent Question Time was "one further example" of TV's reluctance to address higher education issues.

A Question Time spokesman said: "Not everyone can have their subject debated at length."

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