PR course trainers battle to see off university cuts

PR course leaders are fighting to stave off the prospect of having their funds cut ahead of a review of university funding for media and communications courses.

The review, by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), is expected to make recommendations in January based on the results of a survey of course leaders on the cost of running their departments.

PR trainers in higher education fear the review will lead to a downgrading of PR courses and 30 per cent funding cuts for courses in England, which would affect the delivery of the more practical elements of curriculums.

‘I am concerned that theory rather than practice-based programmes will dominate submissions,’ said Lancashire Business School applied communications principal lecturer and division leader Eric Koper.

‘In an already tight environment, students will not have adequate and regularly updated resources – the skills side of programmes will suffer,’ he said.

Media and comms courses are currently split between the body’s funding bands B, C and D. The worry is the review will relegate more to the bottom band D.

HEFCE has said it is seeking to reassure trainers that courses would only be banded with other theory-based courses if the responses to the survey showed this was necessary.

‘We’re trying to bring in changes to funding that will better reflect the needs of these courses,’ said Hefce press officer Philip Walker.

‘We’re asking institutions to tell us what actually happens in their departments and the survey’s purpose is to find that out.’

The IPR said it shared the concerns of PR course leaders. IPR deputy director Ann Mealor said: ‘We will be writing to HEFCE to reiterate the importance of professionalism in this industry and the high standards of conduct that are so important these days.’

Mealor added that it had written to all of the relevant course leaders in England stressing the importance of including the full cost of their courses in the survey.

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