If we are to believe the headlines this week it would appear that fewer students are choosing to study PR with higher fees and instead opting for ‘traditional’ courses like mathematics and engineering.
News stories suggest that applicants are trading ‘softer subjects’ such as media studies and PR for more traditional subjects such as mathematics and engineering.
Personally, when making the choice about what course to study at university I can honestly say that nowhere in my mind was I making a choice between PR and mathematics or engineering, they’re so far apart that I can’t see a student who was thinking of studying PR before the fees went up would suddenly go “£9,000 for a PR degree? Oh in that case I’ll do mathematics instead”. So, in my personal opinion, the fact that PR applications have decreased and mathematics applications for example have increased is not related.
Also, there is a clear difference between media studies and PR and these shouldn’t necessarily be grouped together. Media studies as a subject is much broader than PR and does not necessarily have a clear career path which could be a reason for decreased applications. Applicants want to know that after spending up to £27k they will have a career at the end of it. Whereas with PR there is a clear career path; you study the degree, learn the skills and theory needed in the industry, gain work experience, graduate and apply for jobs in the PR industry. Media studies seems to be a degree for an applicant who isn’t entirely sure which area of the media they want to work in whereas PR is a degree for people who know (or think they know) that they want to work specifically in the PR industry.
A more realistic explanation for decreased applications would simply be that applicants are taking more time over their applications as it is a much greater investment and so applications will increase over the next few months after applicants have visited university open days and found out more about the courses on offer.