Is experience more important than qualifications?

That’s a good question isn’t it. Can we do what we want to do without qualifications? Can we work as a lawyer; a doctor; an architect without qualifications? Of course not, but we certainly couldn’t work in those professions without some experience as well.

by Paul Bailey, Senior Lecturer in Media

As Julius Caeser once said: “Experience is the teacher of all things.” And he should know as he conquered country after country. Clearly for Caesar simply having a qualification in Latin was not enough. Most successful job candidates have both experience and qualifications, and both contribute to their ability to perform their job well. Qualifications show that you have the knowledge necessary for your profession, whereas experience proves that you’ve practiced working in your field. Which brings me to an anecdote about a boy from South Shields who wanted to go to university but hadn’t quite figured out what career he wanted to do. He did get to university – the first in his family to do so. He studied politics and history because that’s what he was good at while studying his A-levels. While at university he had to complete a 12,000 word dissertation for his final project. He decided he would write about the recent miners’ strike that had just finished. He thought it was a good idea to spend summer in South Shields talking to former striking miners, newspaper reporters, the general public and many other people about their experiences of the year-long strike. He came away thinking how much he had enjoyed meeting these people and listening to their stories. What job entails meeting people, interviewing them and finding out about their lives? Well journalism of course. So, after three years at university studying politics and history he decided he was going to be a journalist.

But how do you become a journalist? The university career advisor was very helpful. “It’s very hard to get into”, he said.

Student in the recording booth at Radio Tees
Student gaining work experience at Radio Tees

Undeterred the youngster went along to the nearest college offering journalism qualifications. He was accepted for an interview to get a place on the course. Things were moving in the right direction – it wouldn’t be long before he was reading the news on television to an eager audience.

What journalism experience have you got?” asked the tutor.

None whatsoever,” the youngster retorted.

Sorry you can’t have a place on the course then. There’s plenty of other people who have done work experience who want to come on the course,” the tutor replied.

The youngster had the right degree qualification but didn’t have any experience. So, he spent a year working for any media organisation who would take him – radio, television and newspapers.

He returned to the college a year later and was offered a place on the course.

One year after that he got his first journalism job as a trainee reporter on a local daily newspaper.

So – two years after graduating and five years after starting his degree he was finally a journalist.

Student in our recording studio at Teesside University

Wouldn’t it be good if you could get a degree and do some work experience at the same time? Doing it all in three years instead of five.

The BA (Hons) Journalism and BA(Hons) Sport Journalism degrees at Teesside University allow you to do just that.

Just look at what’s been on offer to the students since September:

  • Working with BBC Tees
  • Working with Reach plc – publishers of The Mirror
  • Working on the university’s in-house radio station – Tuxtra
  • Working with the commercial radio station Radio Hartlepool
  • Working for an international news website with a chance to visit America.
  • Three journalism students recently flew to Spain to report on an international quiz event – producing videos and written news stories about the occasion.

All great work experience opportunities available to students in first year; second year and third year in the last three months.

Ultimately, neither experience or having qualifications is more important than the other. But having them both can really make you go places.

Courses in the School of Arts & Creative Industries


BA (Hons) Comics & Graphic Novels

BA (Hons) Fashion

BA (Hons) Fine Art

BA (Hons) Film and Television Production

BA (Hons) Graphic Design

BA (Hons) Illustration

BA (Hons) Interior Design

BA (Hons) Journalism

BA (Hons) Music Production

BA (Hons) Photography

BA (Hons) Sport Journalism


Art & Design

Media & Journalism

If you’d like to speak to a member of our team to find out more about studying in the School of Arts & Creative Industries, email and we’ll get straight back to you.

Art & Design Facilities video

Media Facilities video





“Quizmas come early” – the Teesside University students heading to the International Quizzing Championships

A team of Sport Journalism students from Teesside University is heading to Spain on an assignment to cover this weekend’s International Quizzing Championships.

The event will feature quizzing heavyweights such as Pat Gibson, who won the £1m prize in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Paul Sinha, star of The Chase, and Ronny Swiggers, individual champion at last year’s event.

Joining them will be three of the university’s second year students – Ben Rowell, Danny Nicholson and Jacob Raw, who met event organiser, Jane Allen, in a recent seminar.

Jane told the students that the event was the pinnacle of competitive quizzing.

“This is quiz run as a sport and it’s mind-bendingly difficult,” she said.

“Participants train for these events like an athlete would for a world championships – but in this case it is a sport of the mind.”

Impressed by the students, Jane offered them the opportunity to test their journalism skills at the forthcoming event, held in Torremolinos.

The students will be producing social media content, press releases, match reports and features for the event, which runs across three days from Friday. As well as providing content for the event, the students will be using the opportunity to hone their skills in interviewing and content production.

Jim Entwistle, senior lecturer on the Sport Journalism course, said: “It’s an unusual assignment but one that Danny, Ben and Jacob are more than up to. We’re always on the lookout for meaningful experiences and opportunities for our students – and opportunities don’t come bigger than the International Quizzing Championships – we’re hugely grateful to Jane for this chance.”

Danny Nicholson, 21, said: “I’m looking forward to getting out there and creating some content. I pride myself on my general knowledge so I’m hoping to take on some of the participants at the quiz while I’m there, but I’m realistic about my chances.”

Jacob Raw, 19, said: “It’s a brilliant opportunity and a good chance to represent the university abroad. It will allow me to develop my skills in a real-world, high-profile environment. It’s a prestigious event and I’m just delighted to be going. It feels like Quizmas has come early.”

Jane added: “We want to have a relationship with the University that is symbiotic – we are getting access to the talents of these students, and the students are getting chance to develop their skills at the same time. Everyone’s a winner.”

The students will be publishing on and its social media platforms, and will write an update for this blog next week.