- NUC: Varsities to begin 7 new courses in communication department
- Admission into new curriculum commences in 2020 session
A new curriculum that will phase out Mass Communication programme in Nigerian universities has been approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC), with the emergence of seven courses under the Faculty/School/College of Communication Studies
wo years after efforts to rejig the Mass Communication degree curriculum in universities in line with the global trend were conceived, stakeholders and communication professionals in the university system and media industry have continued to hail the approval of the curriculum by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
NUC, the agency supervising university education in the country, last week, approved the new curriculum, streamlining the teaching and learning of Mass Communication in the university system.
With the approval of the new curriculum, the era of offering Mass Communication as a degree programme in Nigerian universities is over.
This is as Mass Communication, according to the National Universities Commission, had been unbundled into seven degree programmes with a view to meeting the present demand.
The new curriculum expected to take effect from 2020 admission year, will run courses or programmes in the following areas – Journalism & Media Studies, Public Relations, Advertising, Broadcasting, Film & Multi-Media Studies, Development Communication Studies, and Information & Media Studies.
The curriculum, NUC noted resulted in the emergence of seven degree-awarding programmes, while phasing out of the single B.Sc/B.A Degree Programme in Mass Communication that is hitherto offered in different Mass Communication Faculties across the universities.
The seven programmes, under the new approach will now domicile in either the Faculty of Communication Studies or School of Communication Studies or College of Communication Studies, depending on what a university chose to call the programme.
Announcing the approval of the curriculum, the NUC Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, said: “Mass Communication has been unbundled into Media Studies, Public Relation Studies, Cinematography, among others.”
Also, reacting to the development, Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye, a Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), and currently the Chairman of the Centre of Excellence in Multimedia and Cinematography/UNILAG Radio 103.1FM and Television Station, described the new curriculum as long overdue.
According to him, the new curriculum was the efforts of 76 professionals, comprising 36 professors of Mass Communication from various universities, and representatives of the regulatory bodies such as Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, APCON, NIPR, Advertising Agency of Nigeria, as well as industry practitioners from radio, television, newspaper, Guild of Editors, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), among others.
He said: “We all started this process two years ago, and we later presented the proposed curriculum to NUC on February 8, 2018. We want to move with the current trends worldwide.
Mass Communication as a unit is too large and to the extent that some of the students are only trained for 15 months, which is unacceptable to us.
“We want to make them more relevant and hence we divided the Mass Communication unit into different courses. Instead of having B.Sc (Hon) in Mass Communication, we will now under the curriculum award B.Sc (Hon) in Journalism; B.Sc (Hon) in Advertising; B.Sc (Hon) in Public Relations; B.Sc (Hon) in Broadcasting, and so on.
The main thrust for this is to further regulate the industry and do away with quackery, sub-standard training and unhealthy practices.”
He recalled also that Mass Communication was separated into the seven courses or programmes during the vigorous debate by the professionals and industry practitioners in Kano during their sittings, saying this will further enhance the quality and standard of teaching and practice of the different courses.
Akinfeleye, who noted that presently some universities, such as UNILAG have over 150 students in the Mass Communication class, pointed out that there was no way a lecturer, no matter efficient he may be, could teach basic News Writing effectively under such class situation.
“What we have done is to divide them into basic sections and under the new approach of breaking up Mass Communication into seven courses, the highest we can have in a class cannot be more than 40 or 45 students, which is in line with the teacher-student ratio,” the don added.
According to him, under the curriculum the universities may not offer all the new departments because of manpower, but at least they may commence with one or two courses.
In the case of UNILAG, he said because of the size and reputation of the university, they are starting with six of the new programmes.
Akinfeleye also told New Telegraph that the crusade for the new Mass Communication curriculum was supported and assisted by MacArthur Foundation and UNESCO, among others, saying the curriculum is the current trend in the world.
“Again, all these courses will now be housed under the Faculty of Communication Studies or School of Communication or College of Communication Studies depending on what a university wants to call it. We want to help the industry and the industry is also ready to help us, and that is why it is a combined efforts and everybody was happy about this development,” he added.
Now, based on the new curriculum students can now major in different areas of Mass Communication and not in a single unit as it was run before. The students can now pursue career in Journalism & Media Studies, which will be more encompassing and taught as a degree course, for which students would gain broad knowledge of activities and emerging trends in journalism and media world.
As further specified by the new curriculum, this degree course is aimed at students who wish to study Journalism and Media, where Media Studies programmes will take an integrated approach and a broader look at media in all its forms.
It will be all-inclusive programme with focus on print and broadcast journalism, digital journalism, media practice, public relations, the history, development and ethics of journalism to be taught on more balancing practical and academic aspects.
Journalism and Media Studies education will explore all forms of media, from print to film to digital communications, as well as focused on mass communication and its effects on the public.
However, part of the recommendations by the professors and professionals is to have a degree in Journalism and Media Studies, not as two separate degree courses.
The new Journalism and Media Degree is expected to equip the students with a range of interests in the broad range of media, and media theories, the ways in which the media were shaped and the impact they have on culture and society.
The courses will include journalism, history of media, legal issues in communications, ethics and journalism, critical approaches to media, visual culture and new media, among others.
Under Public Relations, the programme will train students to become public relations experts and professionals capable of adapting to the new ways people consume content, communicate and connect in the broad spectrum.
The core courses in Public Relations will emphasise the promotions, publicity, community affairs, internal relations, writing, and special events planning, principles of public relations, public relations techniques, campaign and event planning, media relations, interface between social media and public relations, and international public relations.
In the same vein, Degree in Advertising will expose students to foundation in the creative, management, interpersonal and analytical skills required to work in a dynamic and sophisticated corporate world.
This is as the coursework will focus on critical thinking, effective communication, writing, editing, and visualising ideas and incorporates elements of social science research, statistics, multicultural studies, and visual design, as well as business, consumer behaviour and media, copywriting and photography, which would prepare the students to develop effective advertisement campaigns.
Its other focal areas are advertising strategies, effective advertising sales, media planning, copywriting and visual design of ads, retail advertising, ethics and law in advertising.
Meanwhile, in the case of Broadcasting Degree programme, the focus will includes depth knowledge of broadcast journalism and new media interplay in the broadcast world. The students will also be equipped with appropriate skills and knowledge in broadcasting and script writing, production of good script writers and broadcasters, strengthen ethical values on responsible journalism/broadcast media, enhance skills and competences in script writing, announcing, performance, and other genres of broadcasting.
The Film & Multimedia Studies Degree programme will incorporates courses in film history, aesthetics, and theory; theory and practice in television, popular culture, and new media; and all aspects of 16mm film and digital video production, including narrative, documentary, animated, and experimental film.
The students will also be exposed to learn the theory, history, and practice of film making and media, and equipped with relevant skills to adapt to the evolving movies industry in Nigeria, including media practice and business.
Other coverage areas of Film and Media Studies programme will include introduction of students to artistic and academic approaches to films and new media, as well as introductory and advanced courses in film studies, fiction filmmaking, documentary filmmaking, video editing, cinematography, media studies, screenwriting and directing, film theory, film curating studies, new modes in documentary film, directing actors and non-actors for film and TV, narrating filmmaking workshop, television theory, study of movie industries, film criticism, among others.
Similarly, under Development Communication Studies, the focus will be on courses such as participatory communication, behavioural change and social development, development communication theory, use of the mass and social media to disseminate information and encourage participation, development communication in Nigeria and other parts of the world, development media environment and media channels, overview of commercial and community media for development, evaluating development communication tools, publishing to communicate development, writing features and profiles, communication strategy for development, assessing development communication system, civil society and advocacy in development communication, development journalism theory and practice, writing development case studies, broadcasting and development communication, new media and development communication, among others.
Following the curriculum, Degree programme in Information & Media Studies will emphasise the need to facilitate, through adequate theoretical and practical training, the emergence of competent professionals in the areas of design, production, implementation and administration of digital media systems and information science.
Besides, the programme will teach conventional communication principles and practices in addition to foundational concepts in information technology and design to specialised skills required for industry-standard creative digital design and production.
It will also equip students with appropriate skills in computer software programming; web and mobile applications development; online broadcast design; audio-visual production including sound and visual effects; animation and games for entertainment, advertisement and various forms of instructional content; social network analysis, among others.
Apart from the fact that it will go a long way in boosting professionalism in the industry, Prof. Akinfeleye further hinted that critical stakeholders are looking at the curriculum in which the industry practitioners will come and teach in the university to enhance the practical aspect of the curriculum.
“The professionals in the industry should come and help us either as a Fellow or part time lecturers/instructors. Some of the Professors as well as the students will also go to the industry to work so as to expose them to the practical skills and knowledge. Again, this will enhance town and gown relationship. This is a good idea and we want to thank NUC for looking at our proposal and for listen to us. The current training and teaching of Mass Communication as a unit is unacceptable,” the don noted.