Teesside University journalism students travelled to the heart of the Brexit debate when they visited the European Parliament in Brussels.
During the three-day trip they held a meeting with local North East MEP Jude Kirton-Darling to discuss the future impact on their region of leaving the European Union.
The ten-strong group of second and third year students networked with senior journalists including BBC bureau chief Simon Wilson, The Times correspondent Bruno Waterfield and Politico.eu reporter Harry Cooper who together revealed the inside track on covering events in Brussels.
Students shared photographs and video of their experience on social media as they were given a guided tour of the vast plenary chamber and its state-of-the art audio visual facilities by the Parliament’s communications team.
They also enjoyed an impromptu interview opportunity with the former Prime Minister of Slovenia, Alojz Peterle.
Second year Journalism student Alex Watson said the visit had revealed a wealth of opportunity for young journalists seeking a career in Europe – even after a future Brexit.
He said: “It was something we did not realise was open to us. There are an unbelievable range of roles and the intertwined relationship between journalists, politicians and lobbyists was absolutely fascinating to see.”
“We realise now we don’t have to be restricted to only working in the UK.”
Final year Multimedia Journalism student Kristyn Higginson, said: “This was a great experience and a fantastic opportunity for students to learn how the Parliament works.”
“It was far bigger than I imagined but I didn’t realise that it would be so open to journalists. I thought it would be difficult to speak to anyone but everyone was extremely welcoming.”
Olga Dziewulska, press attaché for the European Parliament which hosted the trip, said: “The European Parliament is the only directly elected EU institution.”
“We want the voters to know about the Parliament’s legislative work and its values as well as the work done by the elected members of the European Parliament.
“One of the many ways we do this, is by organising seminars and visits for media professionals.
“These trips are a chance for journalists and students of journalism to find out more about the work of the institution, meet their members and put the information into the context of their work back at home.”
Teesside University Journalism programme leader Jonathan Brown said the visit earlier this month had been a hugely beneficial learning experience for staff and students alike.
He said: “This was a unique opportunity to get to the heart of the biggest and most far-reaching news story of recent times.”