Scholarships launched for fledgling female football journalists

29 November 2017

Talented young women footballers are being offered the chance to win a £27,750 bursary to study football journalism at the University of Derby. The University – home to the only Football Journalism degree in the UK – has teamed up with Derby County Ladies to offer three fully-funded places on the course.

The University launched the scholarship programme today alongside Derby County Ladies Football Club (DCL) with a video created by students showing the benefits of a career in football journalism. The Derby course, now in its second year, has been overwhelmingly popular with prospective students. The University’s Journalism degree is one of only four in the country where 100% of students completing their degree in 2017 said they were satisfied with their course.

Female students playing a football match

The first students on Derby’s BA (Hons) Football Journalism degree have worked with the likes of Gareth Southgate, Jacqui Oatley, Henry Winter, Nigel Clough and other stars of the football and media world. Dan Ashworth, the Football Association’s technical director, Baroness Sue Campbell, chair of UK Sport, and England goalkeeper Jack Butland are visiting this winter. Last summer, students travelled to the Netherlands for three weeks to report on the Women’s European Championship for outlets such as the Daily Mirror, the Manchester Evening News and Sky Sports News.

Three full scholarships are available for women starting the course in 2018, who will play for DCL and the University’s football team. The scholarships will cover the full cost of the students’ tuition fees, currently £9,250 a year.

Potential candidates for the scholarship will need to show that they could play for both the Derby County and University teams, and meet the entry requirements for the degree. If the players satisfy all three conditions, they will then apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) to be offered a place at Derby for the 2018/19 season/academic year and will be asked to sign a Scholarship Agreement, committing to meeting the required criteria on an annual basis.

DCL are currently in the third tier of women’s football, but the recent changes to WSL licensing criteria have opened the door for Derby to become a semi-professional second-division side by the start of the 2018/19 season, pending a bidding process. With this, successful scholars have the opportunity to be part of a club with high ambitions that is just one division away from the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City.

Peter Lansley, senior lecturer on the Football Journalism course, said: "One of our aims at the University of Derby is to help as many women journalists as possible enjoy studying with us. We’re striving to redress the gender imbalance in sports reporting - recent research indicates that only 1.8 per cent of sports bylines in national newspapers were for women. We believe the scholarships, alongside our course, will give more women the platform they need to develop into the world of sports journalism while also driving up standards of women’s football at the University and supporting our local club’s bid for WSL status."

Duncan Gibb, chief executive at Derby County Ladies, said: "When I joined the club back in 2013, we set out a five-year plan aimed at getting ourselves to the stage where we could not only progress to the next level but, equally importantly, retain that status once achieved. This project is one of several partnerships integral to our bid to stabilise at the top end of women’s football. It should provide us with three high-standard players on an annual basis that will allow them to not only slot seamlessly into the first team squad immediately, but enhance it.

"We are hopeful of attracting players currently operating at Women's Super League level, who will view the securing of a full scholarship on the Football Journalism course as a real opportunity for them to progress a full-time career within the industry, while continuing to develop as players at one of the most progressive and ambitious women's clubs in the country. It’s been imperative that we got this partnership right, to ensure that prospective players secure a high-quality student, and playing, experience for their three years in Derby.”