Closer to the graduation, any Bachelor’s student of the Faculty of Journalism of ZNU (Zaporizhzhia National University) surely asks himself or herself: what is next, where should I study, and whether it is worth it, after all? All these issues, directly or indirectly, relate to a Master's degree. Despite the fact that the history of the Master's level education in Ukraine is more than 20 years old, not everyone still has a clear idea of its pros and cons.
Unfortunately, not everyone understands what specific benefits can be obtained from a Master's degree. Not always, a positive experience from Bachelor's studies can affect the attitude to a Master's studies, even if the idea of it is completely vague. Often in our imagination, the most idyllic, romanticized images of cheerful and clever holders of cherished diplomas of prestigious universities with graduation gowns on shoulders and funny hats on their heads from foreign movies can appear at the very mention of a Master's degree. Perhaps, under the influence of these bright cinematic pictures, former Ukrainian bachelors often choose Master's programs at foreign universities. Probably, but anyway not only because of it. Until recently, everyone -teachers, students, real and potential employers – acutely felt the lack of systemic qualitative changes in approaches to education and its results in Master’s programs in Ukrainian universities.
For last 15 months, the team of ZNU associate professors has been working on quality updating the Master’s Program in Journalism after being trained by DESTIN international experts. Public conferences in Ukraine and abroad, online discussion forums, confidential conversations with practicing journalists and monitoring of anonymous student opinions about studying and teaching at the MA Journalism Program laid direction towards the curriculum reform based on European model of journalism education. According to its basic standards - academic integrity and professionalism, active job placements in media industry, reliable feedback from employers - high quality journalists are trained in Western European countries, far beyond Ukraine. Foreign partners of DESTIN project gladly shared successful experience of Master’s programs in Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, and Poland. ZNU representatives longed to absorb it as much as possible and combine with positive traditions the faculty held.
The previous Master's program in Journalism at ZNU offered a set of disciplines that formed a journalist, a researcher, and a university lecturer. First of all, the new program got rid of the pedagogical component. From the new academic year, Master’s Journalism students will develop as media analysts, media managers and researchers. A number of modules will contribute to the acquisition of relevant skills and abilities demanded by the society and the labour market. In particular, the modules "Political Journalism", "Media Criticism", "Essays Writing", "Analytical Writing" will deepen students' views on the state and prospects of the media industry in Ukraine and the world. Modules such as "Academic Writing", "Qualitative and Quantitative Methods of Media Research" will equip graduate students with reliable research tools for studying a variety of social processes that are under the influence of the media. The modules "Strategic Communication Management", "Project Management", "Psychological and Educational Technologies in Media Management" will form extremely important integrated soft skills in the field of management. This includes communication in the team and team building, productive interaction in the team, effective dealing with psycho-emotional burnout at work and professional deformation. It is also important that in the new academic year graduate students will have considerable freedom in choosing modules that align with standards of the European model of journalism education.
Institutional coordinator for ZNU, Associate Professor of Journalism Department Katerina Sirinyok-Dolgaryova strengthens the point of the peer-review panel: «The ZNU team and the majority of stakeholders have a shared view on journalism. They all emphasize the necessity for quality journalism that is truthful, especially since we are living in a digital society that is threatened by a sea of unverified information and ungrounded opinions. Having such a common view within the team and together with stakeholders is a valuable asset; it serves as an indispensable foundation for building academic programmes».
DESTIN experts, having visited our university in March and analysed the quality of the updated master's program in journalism, gave it a positive assessment. Nico Drok (President of EJTA/European Journalism Training Association, Professor of Windesheim University, Netherlands), Veronika Menjoun (a journalist and media expert, Fojo Institute of Linnaeus University, Sweden), Marc Schwärzli (expert in quality of education, World University Service, Austria), Kostiantyn Kovalishyn (Ukrainian Student Association, Kyiv) and Iryna Kondratenko (Hromadske Radio, Kyiv) held confidential meetings with ZNU administration, academic staff, students, alumni, and employers. Feedback, recommendations and wishes of DESTIN experts, a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of Master's studies, made by a team of teachers of journalism ZNU, which took into account the challenges for applicants and their prospects, formed the MA Journalism program’s version 2020. New Master’s Journalism students will experience all advantages of a progressive curriculum. After all, it covers the demands of real and potential employers, the modules form integrated relevant skills in the profession and students can independently choose modules and assess the quality of their teaching.
To remind, DESTIN is an international project, which participants aim to align their study programs with European Qualification Framework (EQF) and in particular with European standards of academic integrity and professionalism, strengthen ties between students and media industry. Among partners are ten Ukrainian and four European universities, 5 professional organizations and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. The project is being realized for three years and will finish in November 2021.