Student journalists from News Associates London and the University of Sunderland meet NCTJ directors

Representatives from this year’s Student Council attended the NCTJ’s June board meeting to give their views about their training and qualifications.

Students were nominated at a meeting of the Student Council at MSN in February to ensure the voices of those on NCTJ-accredited courses are heard by the directors. The council was set up in 2008 to ensure there is a direct link between students and decision making at the NCTJ.

Simon Collins is a student on the part-time course at News Associates London and Andy Sixsmith is a postgraduate sports journalism student from the University of Sunderland.

Simon’s views included concerns about the reporting exam, in which he said he had been told while on his course: “You’ll never have to write like that again”, rote learning of facts for the public affairs exam and the need for more advice on getting a job.  Discussing the plans for a standard in ethics training, he said, “The ethics module that’s coming should not just be about the rules.”

Andy applauded the media law module and exam and although he also liked public affairs, he felt the exam, “should be more practical and less about definitions”. Andy enjoyed his shorthand classes and has already achieved 100wpm. He also had views about the reporting exam that he thought was subjective and needed more clarity in the marking guide. However, he liked the social media and video aspects of the exam. He summed up the NCTJ in three words: “Reputation, preparation, and practicality.”

Reflecting on the students’ views, Joanne Butcher, NCTJ chief executive, said: “We are already taking action on a number of points made by the students, notably changes to the reporting and public affairs exams, and the new practical ethics module. However, there is more work to be done to assist students before, during and after they do their NCTJ-accredited training, and we will be looking at ways of providing more assistance in the year ahead.” 

For more information about the Student Council and its representatives visit