International accreditation cements Waikato’s PR programme as leader in Australasia

18 August 2023

Associate Professor Margalit Toledano
Associate Professor Margalit Toledano, convenor of Waikato’s public relations programme.

The University of Waikato has again been recognised internationally for the quality of its undergraduate Public Relations programme by the world's leading industry association.

Last week, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) awarded the University's Public Relations (PR) department the Certification in Education for Public Relations (CEPR).

Waikato is the only university in Australia and New Zealand to have PRSA accreditation, giving students a competitive advantage with qualifications recognised outside New Zealand.

This marks the third time the University's PR programme has been awarded PRSA accreditation since 2009.

It comes after a thorough investigation in May by PRSA's Educational Affairs Committee, including an onsite visit by PRSA fellow Dr Susan Walton from Brigham Young University and a remote review by PRSA fellow Geri Evans.

PRSA is a non-profit association for PR professionals, founded in 1947 and headquartered in New York. It has more than 400 professional and student chapters globally.

Associate Professor Margalit Toledano, who is the convenor of Waikato's PR programme, says that PRSA reaccreditation boosts the reputation of the University on the global stage.

It means that our students can go anywhere in the world and say, 'I studied in a PR programme that went through a very rigorous process of examination and found to be excellent'.

Associate Professor Toledano says the PRSA endorsement is something international students look for in particular.

“It gives them the assurance that Waikato's public relations programme follows international standards in PR education."

International student Sriganesh Siva, from Malaysia, says the PRSA accreditation was a "big factor" in choosing to study PR at Waikato University, as he felt assured he would receive "world-class learning experiences".

Students Sriganesh Siva, left, and Emma Wilson, right, enjoy studying Public Relations at the University of Waikato.
Students Sriganesh Siva and Emma Wilson enjoy studying Public Relations at the University of Waikato.

“The PR programme at Waikato is very practical, with papers ranging from public speaking to contemporary writing. The lecturers are super-friendly, warm and helpful, and are passionate about the programme," says Sriganesh, who is in his second year of a Bachelor of Management Studies with Honours majoring in PR, with a minor in Human Resource Management and Marketing.

This year's judges were "deeply impressed" with the faculty's depth of knowledge and experience, dedication to the programme and students, and strong research and publication record.

Alongside a two-day site visit, the reviewers conducted in-depth interviews with more than 25 alumni, internship providers, employers and international colleagues of the University's PR programme.

Every student, alumni, and employer interviewed felt the success of Waikato's public relations graduates began with the faculty's help, support, and encouragement, as well as the rigorous coursework, the report read.

Employers described Waikato PR graduates as "excellent, first class, high-quality and well-prepared" for the workforce.

Graduates praised the support and preparation they received at Waikato, setting them up for future career success.

Second-year student Emma Wilson, who is doing a Bachelor of Communication degree majoring in PR with a minor in Leadership Communication, says that the programme strongly focuses on ethical communication.

“Having a solid foundation of ethics, and a focus on how to make ethical decisions, is greatly beneficial," says Emma, president of Waikato's Management Communication Students' Association (MCSA).

She also values the University's strong links to industry professionals with guest lecturers and the opportunity to do Work-Integrated Learning and internships as part of her degree. There are regular networking opportunities through MCSA and the programme's association with PRINZ (Public Relations Society of New Zealand).

The PR programme is part of the Waikato Management School (WMS), which is recognised in the top one per cent of business schools globally with its prestigious Triple Crown Accreditation.

In 2022, WMS was named number one in New Zealand for Business and Economics in the Times Higher Education Rankings.

Students wanting to study PR as a major subject at Waikato can choose from several degree programmes, including the Bachelor of Communication, Bachelor of Business, or the Bachelor of Climate Change degrees. PR can be taken as a second major or a minor subject with any other bachelor's degree or postgraduate level master's and doctoral offerings.

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