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14/12/2007

World's first Media Academy Network for NI

Northern Ireland is to have an elite academy to develop a new wave of talent to create the YouTube and Bebo style concepts and media content of the future.
A consortium led by University of Ulster and including the Belfast Metropolitan College, North West Regional College and Southern Regional College, has been selected to be part of the world's first Media Academy Network.
Their academy, the Northern Ireland Skillset Media Academy, will join a network of 16 other academies across the UK, being launched by Culture Minister James Purnell and Skills Minister David Lammy this afternoon in London [Thursday 13 December, 2007].
Skillset is the industry body that supports training for people and businesses to ensure the UK audio-visual industries maintain their world-class position.
This is the first attempt anywhere in the world to 'hardwire' collaborative partnerships between the media industries and academia into the fabric of national education infrastructure.
The network will see world-leading academics, content creators, computer games developers, software programmers and creative artists working with industry. They will develop talent, creativity and business ideas to exploit new technologies and opportunities in broadcast television and interactive media.
The licence was presented by Greg Dyke, the former BBC director general who chaired the panel that selected the centres, to Dr Sarah Edge, chair of the successful Northern Ireland consortium.
Dyke said: "We live in a very competitive world where one good idea can see a person move from mum's garage to global media magnate virtually overnight. The problem for the UK, though, is that a lot of people all over the world are having good ideas in television and interactive media. Good ideas are simply not enough - they have to be world-beating. This is where education and industry collaboration can play a crucial role."
Those in the Skillset Media Academy Network have been identified by Skillset as centres of excellence in media education and training. The academies are aimed at ensuring that the UK media has the most talented, skilled and diverse workforce in the world for years to come.
Northern Ireland’s success followed a one-year application and industry inspection process. Over 60 consortia bid for the academy status.
The academy will help indigenous media companies become more internationally competitive by bringing skills to an international standard. It will also act as an incentive for international media companies, particularly in interactive digital media, to locate in Northern Ireland.
Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said: “The Northern Ireland Skillset Media Academy will for the first time create a proper and coherent link between the television, film and digital media industry in Northern Ireland and the education and training providers.
"This provides a once in a generation opportunity to ensure that in the future graduates of courses are better equipped for the industry they wish to join and are provided with a clearer path to that industry albeit still a challenging one."
Dr Edge, head of school of Media, Film and Journalism at University of Ulster said: "With defined progression routes, students will be supported by a number of innovative schemes and have increased mobility into the industry. The direct contact with industry strengthens and enables students to achieve their aims and progress into their desired careers."
The academy will be advised by a board of leading industry practitioners to ensure its training, research and skills are industry-led.
Kevin Jackson, the assistant head of drama at BBC Northern Ireland, will chair this board. The academy will have a presence across Northern Ireland and provide a pathway of qualifications for talented individuals entering the media and those within the industry wanting to enhance their skills.
Already the partners have hosted some joint events, including a talk by Al Gore’s Current TV. It was broadcast last month across the different campuses using new interactive conferencing technology.
(DS)
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