N.U.S. revives journalism programme

The National University of Samoa has revived its media and journalism programme, close to a year after it announced it would be shelved due to low enrolment numbers.

The N.U.S. President and Vice Chancellor, Professor Alec Ekeroma, confirmed in a telephone interview with the Samoa Observer on Saturday that the programme has been revived while emphasising that the university didn’t plan to shut it down permanently.

"We cancelled it last year because we didn’t have enough students and remember I said last year that just because we cancelled it doesn’t mean we’re not going to restart," Prof. Ekeroma said. 

He said the media and journalism programme underwent a review a week ago by the N.U.S. Faculty of Arts Dean, Saui’a Louise Mataia-Milo and a media industry panel on the course requirements and the way it should be run.

The media industry panel comprised Sina Retzlaff and a staff member of TV1 who act as advisors to the university’s media and journalism program. 

Prof. Ekeroma said the media industry panel also gave advice on how the university programme should be run and identified the kind of support that can be given.

"We were reviewing things again and re-looking at things, and so last week, Saui’a and the industry panel of people from the media, and they advised how the media and journalism course should be run and give advice about what the industry’s needs are and identify the kind of support that the industry can give the Faculty of Arts.

"There is a panel and I believe Mulipola Sina Retzlaff is the chair of that panel and also someone from TV1 is also in the panel so they are advisers to the journalism course and the course is starting."

A total of 25 students have already enrolled in the programme since its reviving, according to an elated Prof. Ekeroma, who added that it was a fantastic achievement to have the support of the media industry.

The decision by the N.U.S. administration to revive its media and journalism programme coincides with the announcement by University of South Pacific (U.S.P.) Samoa Campus of the launching of its own journalism programme.

Samoa Campus Director, Dr Joeli Veitayaki, told the Samoa Observer last week that the media is "such an important industry". 

"It’s such an important industry and we could work together on this, we just need to have a cohort of people who are interested and we can take it up from there and take it to the people in Laucala,” Dr Veitayaki said.

But Prof. Ekeroma, when asked about the decision by the U.S.P. Samoa Campus to open its own journalism programme, said he is unsure why two universities would open a similar programme in a small country though he welcomes the competition.

"I also read in the paper last week that U.S.P. is also offering studies in media and so I’m not very sure that two universities in a very small country should both offer journalism courses but you know, we will not shy away from the competition.

"I don’t mind the competition and I don’t mind two universities running the same course, but the thing is that when there is a limitation in terms of teaching resources, then maybe there should be some rationalization of who should do what." 

Asked why the programme recommenced this year, Prof. Ekeroma said that when it was cancelled last year, it was set to commence again after the restructuring of the curriculum and it had to be shelved last year due to the low enrollment numbers.

"Remember when we cancelled the program last year; there was a whole criticism that we shouldn’t have cancelled the program, but we’ve always said that we’re going to revive it again and revive we have," he added. 

The N.U.S. Communications, Media and Journalism Programme was reviewed in 2019 as part of the university’s Faculty of Arts external review with recommendations forwarded to the university administration for its consideration.

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