Open?

Messages for Head of College, Sandra Kemp from LCC students

Students applying for 2010/11

It’s that time of the year when students are considering their applications through UCAS for university in 2010/11.  I’ve felt it necessary to do a quick post after being contacted by a number of potential students, enquiring about the forthcoming academic year.  Despite having ‘left the building’ in November, I’m still listed on the website of the London College of Communication ‘LCC’ as the course director for their BA (Hons) Public Relations, and rumours are doing the rounds that the degree is set to close.

Set the record straight

I’m happy to use my blog to set the record straight on that front – it is not.  But the College does have serious issues that many feel it needs to address.  I am not going to use this blog entry to go through those arguments in detail, but do feel it is fair that students applying to ‘LCC’ know that I am no longer employed there, and that students at the university have major issues about the institution.

Those issues are caused by the impact of the closure of a range of other degree courses on the delivery of the PR course, and the cancellation for the third consecutive year of a revalidation (re-writing of the course) that would have addressed concerns over a lack of specialist PR resources.  Instead, I am going to group together a number of links that are already in the public domain, so that potential applicants are fully informed.

Student voice

This is the first of a series of You Tube clips of the Head of College, Dr Sandra Kemp, attempting to address the concerns of PR students, following news of my departure.

What the papers say

Here you can read links to reports of what has gone on in the Times Higher Education supplement [1], a reply from Sandra Kemp (Head of College) [2], and a further response from all of the students on the course [3] showing that, in PR terms, the Head of College’s reply may have been a little misguided.

Peaceful protest

Having exhausted democratic structures, and feeling they were not being listened to, students inevitably turned to peaceful protest (see links to coverage below).

The response of the university was the introduction of heavy handed security personnel who had to be prevented from physically man-handling students, and the issuing of high court injunctions against students who weren’t even present at the demonstration to which it referred.  The university ‘cack-handedly’ collected names by ‘hoovering’ them up from the adminstrators list on a Facebook group.  It was when the university sought to serve costs against the one person they could get an injunction upheld – a recent alumni of the university (the indefatigable Joana Pinto) – estimated at approx. £20,000 that the judge intervened to dismiss the attempt, and asked the university to consider its actions most strongly.  The independent ‘Oppose’ group of students has an excellent blog which keeps a good eye across broader issues associated with the restructure at ‘LCC’ and associated redundancy programme.

Students demonstrate through occupation

Some other useful links include this piece of local media coverage, plus a number of reports from the university’s student newspaper, Arts London News.[1]; [2]; [3]; [4]; [5]; [6]

If you are a student considering studying public relations in 2010/11, please consider your choice very carefully.  This was my ‘dream job’ – I would not have chosen to resign lightly.  I felt I could no longer put my name to the course.

By all means email me if you think I can be of any assistance in your choice.  I hope to be teaching at another university in some capacity.  I think my students will tell you that I have always been fair and open in my discussion of the choices open to you.  I continue to raise my hat to Leeds Metropolitan University and Bournemouth University for the reputation of their PR degrees and helped to write the CIPR approved PR degree at the University of Greenwich so am supportive of that institution too.  I am likely to be a visiting lecturer at the latter.  A good starting point for consideration has to be the CIPR’s list of approved courses.

BA Public Relations (2009/10) - Emma Edwards (Year 3 course rep) and Thom Will (Year 2)

The elected student course reps have kindly offered to make their email addresses available to any potential students with questions.  Ask questions of the real experts – the students.  Get under the skin of provision.  They are:-

Tove Nordstrom (Year 2):  tove_nordstrom[AT]hotmail.co.uk

Sammy Khan (Year 2): samiyahkhan[AT]btinternet.com

Emma Edwards (Year 3): missysugarlump[AT]hotmail.com

Megan Morewood (Year 3):  meganmorewood[AT]hotmail.co.uk

I have been privileged enough that I think with almost near unanimity amongst my students (and beyond on other courses on which I have taught in the last two years), they and colleagues have been supportive of the decision I have reluctantly felt compelled to take.  This blog (link) was produced by another group of PR students during the recent events.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the students I have had the pleasure of teaching during the last three academic years at LCC.  They were a special group, and many of them have already gone on to excellent opportunities on graduation.

I could have said a lot more, but felt it best to leave it to what was already in the public domain – and leave the rest to the students themselves.

Photo credits: Jennifer Watt and Thom Will.

Students demonstrate outside the recent meeting of the university governors

The Face of Student Protest (I) - the Sandra Kemp face mask makes its first appearance at the demonstration in front of the meeting of the university governors

The Face of Student Protest (II) - more 'in your face' peaceful protest



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3 responses to “Open?

  1. Here’s the wider problem, as I see it.

    Public relations degree courses have generally recruited well over the past decade, so universities are keen to keep them. But the sort of universities that offer PR degrees are also the ones that are under most pressure now, having often expanded too fast, relying on large numbers to generate an income.

    Now that this expansion has ground to a halt (whatever the outcome of the election and the findings of the review of higher education) these institutions – and therefore these courses – are increasingly going to come under threat.

    It therefore seems likely that some students will end up with degree certificates from failing institutions. Unfortunately, CIPR accreditation is no guarantee of an institution’s strength.

    I think it’s a very useful approach to focus on advising future students, because few are going to do the due diligence or ask the tough questions their important decision deserves.

  2. Pingback: Former Head of PR at London College of Communication speaks « National Convention Against Fees and Cuts

  3. It appears that somebody at LCC has been reading my blog. ‘Arts London News’ – the student run newspaper at the university has run a report under the headline “Former PR head slams UAL”. I think if you have read the post (or anyone from the newspaper had contacted me) you will know that I have taken great care NOT to do this, and have advised potential students to take great care to make up their own minds. This is especially true with the cuts in HE funding in the coming year.

    One constructive outcome of the post is that LCC has finally taken down my name from their website as the contact for applications to the course. It does, however, still refer to the PR degree as being taught in the Marketing School of LCC. This ceased to exist around 3 years ago, and its successor, the School of Creative Enterprise, was closed to become the Faculty of Media this September. The last ‘C’ in LCC stands for ‘Communication’.

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