Dr. Antoine Matta
The link between the employment market and the university is not new or strange to the higher education in its various specializations and programs. It is effective in all the universities of the world and is part of the academic “globalization” of hiring due to the relation of “coupling” and “dialectics”, to the interaction and the common profitability resulting there from.
To speak about the “need” uniting them is now classical and traditional in the time of technologies and modern techniques, and notably in the field of information, journalism, audio-visual landed and through satellite, local, regional and worldwide.
It is not anymore allowed that the university or the specialized institutes, at least in their specializations, programs, laboratories and equipments, remain as a rigid body marginalized from its natural environment that is the job market.
It is not as well normal, that the bosses of this market, represented by the enterprises, the capitals and the cadres, ignore the university since it is their principal natural provider of young scientific and professional capacities, worthy to take in charge the responsibilities in their enterprises.
The professional concrete and experienced reality known by the directors of the media institutions on one hand, and the graduates on the other hand, reveals a “dysfunction” in the studies programs, the curriculum and the requirements of the career and its needs. It is a problematic with multiple aspects, requiring practical “answers” and an increased cooperation between the university and the enterprises. The professionals complain that the graduate student has a lack of professional experience and theoretical applications. This goes equally for the foreign faculties and is not specific to the Lebanese faculties.
Another aspect of this problematic is the idea that the programs in the Lebanese information faculties are mere “copies” of the foreign programs taught in the French and Anglo Saxon institutes, meaning that they don’t take into consideration what is suitable for the needs of the student and the requirements of the local and regional job market.
On another level, while holding the meetings of the committees for the amendment of the programs and curriculum, or their development and modernization, we have insisted on the necessity of the participation of the professional directors of the media institutions printed and audio-visual, who are directly concerned by the permanent technological development witnessed by their media. They can help in finding solutions because they know the needs of the information market and the basic information elements needed by the student on the theoretical and professional level, in other words, how to enrich the graduate’s knowledge.
There are new universal methods of education, especially the one known as L.M.D. (License + Master + PhD). One of its essential traits is the obligation to attend the courses and participate in the practical applications. The Lebanese university can call for help, professional specialists and experts to supervise the practical works and the academic projects with the collaboration of the professors in order to satisfy the needs of the career.
This methodology was welcomed with satisfaction by the students. The proof is their thirst to acquire a know-how and the large number of participants in the practical works. We also found out that the academic professor who practiced the journalism career produces more profitability than the one who didn’t.
In conclusion, it is necessary to focus the effort on the priority of uniting the programs and curriculum with the graduate’s job needs and on the importance of the coordination between the university and the media institutions to establish a structural interaction for the benefit of the two parties.
No one can deny that the actual social situation and the conditions of life had a very negative repercussion on the student’s university studies.
On the other hand, the information students, in majority girls, are literary amazed by the small screen rather than by the serious academic education. Their first concern is to reach the media mirror, first TV, then journalism and last radio broadcasting. The enchanting live apparition through image or voice or name, is much more present in their subconscious than the lectures of their professors. They study especially the distinguished image in whatever relates to information or advertisement. These students are most often victims of the illusion image that drifts away from the thorough knowledge. Information remains above all a multidisciplinary culture, living languages, knowledge and communication. We incite them to visit the library frequently, to search for references, sources and research, but they don’t get off Internet looking for a Fast Food to accomplish their practical applications. Here lies the major problem because they do not carry out intellectual research, but rather look for palliatives sparing them the intellectual effort.
We may say that the academic education started deviating from its responsible function.
Another concern: the graduates stick to their professional posts when entering the job market, instead of pushing their studies further. The majority revolves around the local affairs. Very few try to deal with regional or international issues without counting those who choose to specialize in economical and sports affairs. On the contrary, Arab or foreign journalists tackle the international and regional issues in a more mature end deep way. We know that the journalists in the world write the greater number of books or analysis that serves the scholars and students in their research. We may also say that the best journalists are graduates of Law, Political Science, Diplomatic and International relations, fields of interest for the information.
Another issue is the recruitment of graduates from faculties other that the faculty of Information. What is serious is that the information graduate can only be employed by the media institutions. Otherwise, he will have to work in another field or become jobless. If we add the tightness of the job market especially in the paper press due to the difficulties whether in Lebanon or abroad, we are facing the problem of the future of the Information Faculty as a role and a function and their relation with the job market. Note that our faculties of information and especially at the Lebanese University apply the “quota” system for the admission upon examination (150 admissions over 700 per year). The reduction of this number was suggested many times due to the lack of jobs.
We know that the media market has known huge difficulties on the political and security levels since 1975 with the beginning of war. A great number of journalists and their institutions emigrated to the European capitals of Paris and London. The Faculty of Information had just started. Then the big boom of the Arab press abroad occurred allowing the recruitment of Lebanese journalists expelled by war. The issuing of laws regulating the audio-visual information and the closure of audio visual institutions pressured to reduce the number of students in information. But the “revolution” of TV channels through satellite in all directions and in more than a local and exterior station pumped life into the media market and the faculties of information to satisfy the demand internally and on the Arab and world markets. The demand increased as well as the seductive offers. Our students proved to have higher professional qualifications than those coming from other countries or faculties. But the competition of new comers grew threatening our graduates’ monopoly of the media market.
We must develop our faculties and journalists to counter this competition especially on the professional theoretical and practical level. The Lebanese University made a big leap forward by establishing an institute for PhD in information.
Lebanon was and remains ahead in education in its Arab environment and has the lead in the media field. Therefore, Lebanon must develop its faculties in the period of technological, electronic, satellites and digital revolutions.