Opinion: Leader - PR business should fight university cuts

Practical training plays a crucial role in delivering PR courses that provide the skills necessary to produce communications professionals who are effective as well as talented. News that the funding status of PR courses is under threat from the English university funding body is therefore worrying.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is considering downgrading the status of all communications and media courses and cutting their funding. This means there would no longer be enough money to pay for some of the more practical elements of many courses, such as recording studio facilities and computer software that aids press release writing skills.

The deadline for PR course leaders to provide the HEFCE with details of the costs associated with providing their courses passed this week.

The information provided in these submissions will play a big part in the body's decision about how much funding it allocates to each course.

But with the HEFCE making its decision in January, the weeks until then are key to keeping up the pressure. The IPR's intervention here is welcome.

The idea that science or engineering courses could be delivered without a strong emphasis on practical training would be seen as preposterous.

If standards of professionalism and conduct are to be upheld, the same principle must apply to the PR industry.

BIG PHARMA MUST GET ITS ACT TOGETHER

The pharmaceutical industry is in a reputational mire. Its big names are these days characterised more as villains than saviours and stories of unsafe drugs and the concealing of negative clinical trial results have dominated coverage and driven down share prices.

And they still won't provide generic anti-retroviral drugs to Aids-ravaged nations, preferring to protect their patents and short-term profits. As World Aids Day approaches, the pharma lobby needs a radical rethink to start the long road back to credibility.

prweek@haynet.com.

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