Access to becoming a professional journalist has become ever more restricted in recent years as first grants were abolished, then fees shot up and unpaid work experience became the norm.
Submissions to the previous Government's Panel on Fair Access to the Professions showed that more than two-thirds of those entering journalism now came from households where the main wage earner worked in a professional or senior managerial occupation. Under 10 per cent of new entrants came from a working class background, with just three per cent coming from homes headed by semi or unskilled workers.
Now things are set to get worse. Government cuts mean lecturers are being sacked and subsidies for courses being withdrawn. The NCTJ pre-entry course at Warwickshire College is to close. The withdrawal of subsidies meant the course fees more than doubled to £3700 and unsurprisingly too few students signed up. The only NCTJ-accredited photojournalism course at Sheffield was also facing closure but has been reprieved, but only at the expense of increased fees.
The government talks of social mobility - but its cuts are having the exact opposite effect. It is bad enough with the lack of enforcement of the National Minimum Wage allowing employers to get away with exploiting new entrants and breaking the law without students from poorer backgrounds being priced out before they even begin.