UK industry experts give Sunderland creative courses 'Tick' of approval

Released: Friday 26th October 2012 at 15:16

MEDIA degree courses provided by the University of Sunderland have been awarded world-class accreditation by the sector skills council for the UK’s creative industries.

Creative Skillset is the industry body which supports skills and training for people and businesses to ensure the UK creative industries maintain their world-leading position. Each year they offer students considering courses in 11 subject areas, such as media, design, computer games and animation, access to their list of their industry-accredited degree programmes through the Creative Skillset courses database.

Sunderland’s MA Media Production (Television and Video), MA Radio (Production and Management), and BA Hons Media Production (Television and Radio) have been awarded the Creative Skillset Tick, the industry kitemark of quality, following a rigorous assessment process by experts working in the creative industries. This is in addition to the university’s seven previously accredited degrees in Journalism, Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations.

The Creative Skillset Tick is awarded to practice-based courses which best prepare students for a career in the industry. Experts looks for evidence of industry engagement through student placements, industry-relevant teaching and resources, visiting lectures, master classes, employment workshops and company visits as well as case histories and examples of graduate employment.

This year there were 96 courses approved out of 156 applications from the UK’s colleges and universities, and Sunderland’s achievement is significant as its Masters in Media Production and Masters in Radio are the only Creative Skillset accredited programmes nationally.  

Graeme Thompson, Dean of Arts, Design and Media at the University, said: “In the current highly competitive Higher Education market, it is essential for universities serious about delivering industry-relevant courses in the creative industries to achieve accreditation. Students wanting to gain a degree to improve their career prospects in this sector are making a major investment in under-graduate or post-graduate studies. Accreditation from industry-led bodies such as Creative Skillset helps reassure students that they are choosing the right course at the right university.”

In announcing the accreditation, Creative Skillset highlighted the courses access to exceptional studios and production facilities at the David Puttnam Media Centre, at St Peter’s Campus, as well as the talents and reputations of its staff and visiting lecturers. The panel were impressed by the university’s extensive links with the industry.

ITN – which provides news for ITV and Channel 4 – is the University’s Broadcast News Partner which has opened up new opportunities for master classes, work placements and internships to students and staff.  Newscaster Alastair Stewart is an Honorary Graduate and has hosted the student media awards ceremony at Sunderland.

The Managing Director of ITN, Robin Elias, is one of a number of media executives represented on the University’s Media Advisory Board. The BBC, ITV, Sky News, Northern Film and Media, Johnson Press, Bauer Radio, The Amazing Group and Dene Films are also members. The group advise on everything from changes in the industry through to the curriculum.

The news has today been welcomed by leading figures in the creative industries.

Robin Elias, Managing Editor at ITV News, said: “We’re delighted with this new accreditation for the University of Sunderland.

“We’ve always been impressed by the university’s journalism courses and outstanding facilities. Its staff understands the demands of a fast-changing broadcast environment. It’s good to see that Skillset have also recognised those qualities.”

Alastair Stewart, ITV News at Ten presenter, added: “This is another fine feather in the University of Sunderland's hat. Our media studies students are among the brightest in the land. That our courses are recognised for their practical excellence, as much as their academic rigour,  is great news for the students and for their potential employers.”

As a result of Sunderland’s success in the accreditation round, the university has agreed to work with Creative Skillset to identify other courses which could be eligible for the Tick. The sector skills council will work with the university to develop its new Multi Platform Production degree.

Sunderland is a major provider of undergraduate and postgraduate media, journalism and public relations courses developed over a period of 20 years. Up to 1,000 students, academics and support staff are based at the purpose-built David Puttnam Media Centre, part of the Faculty of Arts, design and media. The centre is also home to the award-winning Ofcom-licensed Spark radio service, which broadcast to the city as well as online.