Vogue for media-run courses reaches Guardian

Concerns have been raised over fair access to internships after the publisher of The Guardian became the latest firm to express an interest in providing higher education.

April 19, 2012

Guardian News and Media confirmed that it has spoken to several universities about the "possibility of becoming involved with their journalism courses", with a view to starting a course in September 2013.

City University London and the University of Westminster are understood to have held talks with the company about a proposed £9,000-a-year postgraduate digital journalism course. The newspaper is now thought to be seeking a partnership with a university outside the capital.

The paper also considered setting up its own journalism school, with degrees accredited by a university, but has ruled this out for the present.

It follows last year's announcement by Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue, that it will open its own college of fashion and design in London in January 2013.

From October 2013, students can study for a year-long diploma in fashion at a cost of £23,400, covering topics such as the international fashion year, fashion journalism, photography, marketing and art direction. A 10-week course, offering a Vogue Fashion Certificate, will set students back almost £8,000.

Conde Nast warns applicants that it cannot give work placements for all, but a "select handful of the college's most gifted students" will be offered internships.

Quoted in the college's prospectus, Nicholas Coleridge, president of Condé Nast International, says: "Do I envisage us hiring a number of graduates from the college into our magazine and digital teams around the world? Absolutely!"

A statement from college principal Susie Forbes in its prospectus adds that the "Vogue Fashion courses...have been expressly designed to help students open up those famously closed doors."

No details have been released about whether Guardian courses might lead to work opportunities in its media operations.

Ben Lyons, co-director of Intern Aware, which campaigns for fair internships, said the courses could represent an extra hurdle for those seeking to enter the profession.

"It may mean that people without a lot of money and connections cannot afford to get into journalism," he said. "People used to work in regional journalism and work their way up to the national newspapers, but the lack of working-class people in journalism is now quite shocking."

The Guardian's proposed foray into journalism training comes in the context of the publisher's pre-tax losses of £33 million last year.

In 2010, it established Guardian Masterclasses, where participants learn from some of the paper's star journalists and well-known authors and artists. Weekend courses in subjects such as songwriting, film appreciation and photography can cost up to £500. The paper has also launched a creative writing course in conjunction with the University of East Anglia.

Richard Lindsay, interim head of PR and internal communications at Guardian News and Media, said: "The Guardian aims to promote open, courageous and professional journalism that can take advantage of the new information systems rather than being threatened by them. That is the primary aim.

"Often to get the input of people in the industry on a regular basis is difficult, but we think we can bring something to these courses. It's as simple as that - we've got something to contribute."

A spokesman added: "No decisions have been made about the precise nature of the course, or even which partner in education would work best with us.

"It is therefore not possible to say when a course might start or to give any detail on how it might be run."

jack.grove@tsleducation.com.

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