Chula overhauls courses to stay abreast in digital era

Chula overhauls courses to stay abreast in digital era

Parichart Sthapitanonda, dean of the Faculty of Communications Arts, says the across-the-board overhaul will be introduced at the next school year.
Parichart Sthapitanonda, dean of the Faculty of Communications Arts, says the across-the-board overhaul will be introduced at the next school year.

Chulalongkorn University (CU) is set to overhaul its communication arts degree courses to keep pace with new social trends and attract more students.

Starting from the next academic year, 255 subjects will be taught at CU's faculty of communication arts, according to Parichart Sthapitanonda, the faculty dean.

She said four of seven bachelor's degrees will be overhauled to focus on digital platforms so as to match the changing landscape of the media industry.

Ms Parichart said one of the majors currently called "journalism and information" will have the words "new media" appended to it.

A broadcasting major will be changed to "media design and production" while advertising becomes "advertising and brand communication" and a speech communication major will have the word "rhetoric" added, Ms Parichart said.

The other three majors to be renamed are: public relations, motion pictures and still photography, and performing arts.

"Digital technologies have clearly transformed the media industry in recent years, so universities need to adapt and undergo fundamental shifts in how courses are taught to better prepare students for new demands in the world of communication," she said.

"Those who don't innovate in the classroom will be left behind."

Ms Parichart said new subjects such as data journalism, social media for journalism, design for digital games, and the role of rhetoric in new media will also be introduced as digital literacy is now such a sought-after skill by so many employers.

Moreover, students will be able to choose minor subjects in different faculties to widen their skills and knowledge. Student apprenticeships will also be extended from three to four months so pupils can get more hands-on experience.

Ms Parichart said fewer students are opting to major in journalism nowadays as digital media increasingly takes over.

Her faculty is trying to help students understand that journalism is not limited to print media but can cover any platform that provides information to the public, she said.

"Hard content providers are still needed because our brains need nutritious food. However [such people or outlets] need to be able to deliver good content on any platform," she said. "We have to teach them that quality content is like water that can be put in any container."

CU's Faculty of Communication Arts has admitted a steady stream of 150-160 new bachelor's degree students annually for the last five years, she said.

However, master's degree enrolments have dropped considerably from 80 to 55, she said.

"After we overhaul the curriculum, we expect to see the number of new students at the bachelor degree level increase to 180, which is our capacity limit," she added.

The faculty plans to launch a new master's programme in data science and offer two free online courses for SMEs and the general public, on advertising and infographics.

Last year, Bangkok University merged its journalism and broadcasting programmes into one department to survive the digital age.

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