An insight into the first decade of PR education in the UK has just been posted online. It is the archive of the Public Relations Educators Forum (PREF) from 1994 to 1999, its most active years. It can be found at: http://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/historyofpr/files/2010/03/PREF-Archive-1994-1999.pdf
Catalogued by Professor Tom Watson of the Media School, it illustrates the growth of PR education which began in 1987 in Scotland and a year later in England. PREF was founded in 1990 to bring the new cohort of PR educators together and help negotiate the academia-industry connection. As Bournemouth University (then Dorset Institute of Higher Education) was one of the first two UK universities to launch undergraduate studies in PR, the PREF archive also adds to university history.
It wasn’t an easy relationship with particular tension in the mid-1990s over industry’s attitude to the quality of graduates and its desire to impose a skills-led training curriculum on universities. This was resisted by PREF, as correspondence and evidence of meetings shows.
“This archive shows the teething pains of new academic-led education faced with industry’s desired for trained technicians. The positive news is that PR was an academic area in which women took leading roles from the outset,” Prof Watson said. The online archive contains copies of PREF’s newsletters and membership lists which show the rapid expansion of PR education in the UK.
The PREF archive is one of several projects to advance scholarship in public relations history being developed by Prof Watson during his Fusion Investment Fund-supported Study Leave.