(The following is from Jschool’s submission to the federal Education Department’s 2016 inquiry into student loan support, outlining Jschool’s achievement, the success of its graduates and the strength of industry support.)
Jschool was established in 2001 explicitly to provide vocational education to aspiring journalists. It was set up, after industry consultation, in response to perceived deficiencies in the higher education sector in providing vocational education in journalism.
Jschool’s mission statement makes its goal plain: ‘The mission of Jschool is to provide quality vocational education in journalism.’ The founding director and author of this submission has 40 years’ experience in journalism education and was previously Foundation Professor of Journalism and Head of Department at the University of Queensland. Teaching staff have been drawn from the ranks of tertiary journalism education and the news media.
In terms of the Government’s stated criteria for determining eligibility, we argue that the Diploma of Journalism is a course with a high national priority, that it meets industry needs, that it contributes to addressing skills shortages and that it aligns with strong employment outcomes. It is also a course that has demonstrable ‘public good’.
The public good and high national priority elements of journalism relate to the essential role of journalism within modern democracies. Evidence abounds that journalism provides an essential service in informing and alerting the community, providing accessible analysis and commentary, and exposing weaknesses or failings in the governance and administration of the various institutions of society. The growth in social media increases the need for a well-trained and well-educated profession of journalists. (Of course, failings also occur within journalism, and the Diploma of Journalism ensures solid grounding in legal and ethical issues, essential in a pre-service course.)
In terms of meeting industry needs, addressing skills shortages and aligning with strong employment outcomes, we point to the success of Jschool in placing Diploma of Journalism graduates in the industry for which they have been educated and trained.
Our research on graduate outcomes indicates that 63 percent of Diploma of Journalism graduates have gone into media positions, mainly as journalists. A further 19 percent have gone on to further study, including degrees to which the diploma articulated. Some of these then went on to become journalists. The remainder have pursued other careers or have not yet entered the full-time workforce.
To the 63 percent of graduates directly entering the media industry can be added another cohort of Jschool students, equivalent in number to 10 percent of the graduates, who became journalists without having completed the diploma. (The typical path in these situations has involved students taking on internship positions in newsrooms three-quarters of the way through their course, and being immediately offered employment.)
The more than 60 percent success rate of Diploma of Journalism graduates in becoming journalists is in contrast with university graduate outcomes, where it is estimated only around 20 percent of journalism graduates become journalists. Some say the figure is only 10 percent (Peter McAllister, ‘Degree of doubt for journalism students’, The Australian Higher Education, 18 Apr 2012).
A particular strength in employment outcomes for Diploma of Journalism graduates has been in regional news media, which lack the on-site training facilities of major metropolitan media and which seek ‘job-ready’ recruits. As a result, many regional newspapers refer local applicants to Jschool for training, and also provide work experience opportunities during the diploma course. This has helped broaden opportunities in journalism beyond metropolitan areas, giving more openings to regional and rural students.
The take-up rate of Jschool graduates is testimony to the high regard of the skills and knowledge of Diploma of Journalism students on the part of media employers, who are generally editors of newspapers or related news media. Industry recognition has also come through the success of Jschool students in winning ‘Outstanding Journalism Student’ and being finalists over several years in the Queensland Media Awards.
In addition, editors regularly approach Jschool seeking recruits – evidence of our course’s capacity to fill skills shortages – and have consistently welcomed interns. Over many years, editors and senior news media executives have generously given of their time and expertise to participate in lectures, seminars and advisory roles, enhancing the Diploma of Journalism course and to the benefit of our students and graduates as well as teaching staff.
Many editors as well as Diploma of Journalism graduates have made or are making submissions in relation to the current invitation for comments on the Diploma of Journalism’s eligibility for VET student loans. They have indicated to us their strong support for eligibility for the Diploma, particularly on the basis of the Diploma’s successful role in training and educating recruits for the media industry.
. . .
In summary, the Diploma of Journalism on the evidence we have presented seems clearly to fit the Department’s guidelines for student loan eligibility. It prepares students for a career which is a public good and is, as in any democracy, a national priority, it has excellent employment outcomes, it fulfils industry needs and fills skills shortages. We ask that it be added to the list.
We look forward to your consideration of these points in favour of inclusion of the Diploma of Journalism on the list of courses eligible for VET Student Loans.
Director, Jschool: Journalism Education & Training
Media destinations of Diploma of Journalism graduates
Jim Alouat (Bundaberg News-Mail),
Melissa Archer (Quest Newspapers),
Hannah Baker (Fraser Coast Chronicle),
Angela Banbury (St Kilda Football Club media),
Brett Barfoot (Naracoorte Herald),
Holly Barrell (Australia Zoo media),
Patrick Begley (Daily Liberal, Dubbo, subsequently Sydney Morning Herald),
Matt Bell (finance magazine, Montreal),
Katrina Belle (Barrier Daily Truth),
Stephanie Bennett (Courier-Mail),
Cait Bester (Daily Mercury, Mackay, subsequently Cairns Post),
Tameka Brockbank (Gold Coast Bulletin)
Harry Brumpton (Townsville Bulletin, subsequently financial journalist, U.S.A.),
Luke Buffier (Moree Champion),
Lucy Buhr (Rural Press, subsequently AAP sports reporter),
Hannah Busch (Fraser Coast Chronicle),
Clare Chapman (Fairfax Media),
Ryanna Clayton (Observer, Gladstone),
John Cleary (journalist, Ireland),
Craig Cobbin (Bundaberg News-Mai),
Declan Cooley (Observer, Gladstone),
John Corlett (Courier-Mail, subsequently Channel 7 Broken Hill video journalist),
Walt Curnow (Al-Ahram, Egypt),
Michael Fedrick (Media Monitors, subsequently Dept of Justice),
Joe Flynn (Bundaberg News-Mail),
Anthony Gough (Sunday Mail),
Tom Guerney (literary magazine The Lifted Brow),
Natalee Hall (Warrego Watchman),
Daphne Haneman (freelance journalist),
Natalie Hart (Beaudesert Times),
Jack Hawke (Nine-MSN),
Aniela Hedditch (4BC producer, subsequently Qld Premier’s staff),
Brayden Heslehurst (Quest Newspapers),
Zane Jackson (Bundaberg News-Mail, subsequently Queensland Times then Department of Transport),
Merrin Jagtman (Daily News, Warwick, subsequently Gold Coast Bulletin),
Hayden Johnson (Fraser Coast Chronicle),
Tony Keen (columnist, AFLCentral, subsequently proprietor, TK Proofreading),
Bernice Kelly (Burdekin Advocate),
Emily Kemp (Observer, Gladstone),
Paul Lancaster (Quest Newspapers and subsequently Redcliffe Herald editor),
Lara Lauth (Quest Newspapers),
Rob Lockyear (Queensland Times),
Andrew MacDonald (Gold Coast Bulletin, subsequently Courier-Mail),
Kirstie Maier (Gold Coast Bulletin, subsequently Brisbane City Council then Queensland Government),
Emma McBryde (Rockhampton Morning Bulletin),
Sean Maki Miyaguchi (Queensland Times, subsequently editor, Ipswich Advertiser, then copy editor Kyodo News, Tokyo),
James O’Loan (Daily Mercury, Mackay, subsequently Cairns Post, then Courier-Mailcourt reporter),
Leysha Penfold (Daily Examiner, Grafton),
Reija Poutanen (sports journalist, Jatkoaika, Finland),
Patrick Reincke (Barrier Daily Truth, Broken Hill, subsequently Southern Cross Austereo),
Josiah Roche (publisher & editor, Game Shark Reviews),
Lendl Ryan (Townsville Bulletin, subsequently news editor, Sunday Mail),
Abanob Saad (Daily Liberal, Dubbo),
Stephanie Sager (Port Douglas and Mossman Gazette, subsequently Jetstar International),
Sandhya Shetty (Daily News, Warwick),
David Stuart (Tweed Daily News, subsequently ABC News Digital),
Edmund Tadros (Sydney Morning Herald, subsequently News.com.au business editor then Australian Financial Review),
Alexis Terracini (Bundaberg News-Mail),
Greg Thomson (Southern Cross Ten, subsequently WIN Television then Sky News sports presenter),
Brittany Vonow (Courier-Mail, subsequently Sun, London),
Toby Walker (APN),
Patrick Watson (Courier-Mail),
Shirley Way (South Burnett Times),
Gabrielle Wheaton (Queensland Times),
Barclay White (South Burnett Times, subsequently Shepparton News)