Students want to understand Assembly

Lleu Williams reports on research that says more education is needed about Welsh devolution

Journalism students need to be taught to cover devolution and devolved politics if we are to achieve better plurality and more accurate coverage. This is one of the main recommendations in a new report published yesterday, Young People, Employment and Devolution in Wales.

Commisioned by by Ein Dyfodol/Our Future – an organisation that is part of the Changing Union project – the report explores the attitudes of students and young professionals prospects in the fields of media and law and what impact could enhancing their devolution have on their university and career choices.

It says the asymmetrical nature of UK devolution makes covering devolution accurately very challenging for young journalists. It found that the content of journalism and law courses in Wales do not place enough emphasis on understanding Welsh devolution.

It says this lack of emphasis on Welsh devolution may be affecting the quality of legal services in Wales. Welsh legal education needs to balance the need to provide further Welsh-specific training with the advantages of the current law degree that enables graduates to practice in both Wales and England.

A greater focus on devolution in media courses would also receive a positive response. In addition a majority of interviewees welcomed the prospect of the devolution of broadcasting. They believed devolution would create greater opportunities for young journalists, both students and professionals, in Wales.

On the other hand  working and studying in the field of law in Wales had a more cautious approach, especially to the prospects for the creation of a distinctive Welsh legal jurisdiction. There was uncertainty about the prospects for the academic and legal professions in the event of further devolution in this field. Co-editor of the report, Adam Evans said,

“It’s clear from the research that young people working and studying in the fields of media and the law in Wales require significant reassurances and safeguards before any further devolution, and particular consideration needs to be given to education. It’s clear from the research undertaken here that young people are not against devolution, they’re just not sure.”

“Whilst this research only offers a snapshot of the attitudes of young people and young professionals in Wales towards devolution in their respective fields, the findings should offer much food for thought for policy makers in Wales, especially with successive polling showing that devolution is now the settled will of the Welsh people.”

Lleu Williams is the Project Coordinator for the UK’s Changing Union.

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