Students have been asked to pay money for the chance of receiving a byline under a scheme from local newspaper publisher Newsquest.

The publisher's South London Young Reporter scheme works with colleges that submit articles for publication on Newsquest websites and newspapers.

Institutions have to pay £100 to take part, and each student needs to pay £20 for an administrative fee.

Diana Jarvis, who coordinates the group’s scheme, told i100.co.uk the fee was “purely to cover administrative costs” and the group did not make any profit.

In a letter to colleges - published by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) - inviting them to take part in the scheme, Jarvis writes that it is an "exciting and unique" chance for students "to build up a portfolio of their published work over the eight months".

Unlike school students, the university students are studying the subject so will have an advantage of possibly getting their articles published in our actual newspapers around London.

  • Diana Jarvis

But the NUJ has called the scheme cynical and said teachers had complained directly to them.

“The unpaid intern has become the scourge of the media profession - now Newsquest is asking for journalist students to actually pay for a byline. The company’s cynicism beggars belief, and preys on young people desperate to get a break in a competitive industry,” general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said in a statement.

“We also know that Newsquest is using students to do shifts at its subbing hub in Newport, after sacking sub-editors on its newspapers across the land."

In a statement, Newsquest say the article was "misleading". "These fees purely cover the costs of running the scheme, including an awards ceremony at the end of the year, and for 2015 we have opened it up to colleges and universities.

"This is a community-focused project that offers young people who might wish to enter the media an opportunity to get a taste of journalism and experience involvement with a real newsroom. To suggest that this is in any way an attempt to replace professional journalists, is nonsense."

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