Letter: Media studies maligned

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Sir: The condemnation of media studies courses as a whole in Lucy Hodges' article ("The trendy travesty", 31 October) is reminiscent of the condemnation of the rise of English and Modern History by Oxbridge classicists of a hundred years ago - fashionable, a passing phase, a poor training of the mind, etc. It is another manifestation of what amounts to a campaign in the media against the study of their own institutions and products and against the acquisition of skills that seemingly are unworthy of being taught and are in little demand.

This knee-jerk reaction to rapidly growing subject areas in higher education involves assumptions about trendiness and soft options without really asking questions about why subjects grow.

Such growth can have nothing, apparently, to do with the development of new and challenging ideas which seem highly relevant to modern post- industrial societies, and nothing to do with the expansion of media-related job opportunities in those societies. Universities are accused of "cashing in" on the trend, and there seems no recognition of the alternative view that they are responding to demand from applicants.

None of us in the field can be complacent about the failure of some graduates to get jobs, and media studies has no doubt its dottier fringe and some less than excellent courses, but Ms Hodges seems to think it would be better if unemployed media graduates had joined the very much larger numbers of unemployed graduates of engineering, sociology and business studies.


Head of School of Communication

University of Westminster

Harrow, Middlesex