running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Design Education and What Lies Ahead

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Amongst the sobering economic, political and social facts and projections being reported as we enter 2012, design education has its own depressing statistic: one third of art and design graduates are still without permanent work a full three years after graduating.

With huge tuition fee rises, a struggling private sector, and a radical restructuring of clients' promotional strategies, the opportunities for young creatives seems bleak.

This year will also see a 25% drop in the number of applications to creative arts and design university courses. Applications through UCAS are down about 10% across the board, and this is partially due to the rise in fees, but (most pertinently in creative courses) its also a reflection of educational cutbacks, resulting in capped course numbers, and a toning down of the marketing of these courses to prospective enrollments.

An interesting read that deals with these issues is the inaugural report from the Design Commission, which explores the relationship between the UK's national design capacity, the current approaches to delivering design courses at school, FE and HE, and the realities of the economic climate.

The emphasis is on keeping our design education curriculum fit for purpose, and there are four central recommendations:

1.Government needs a national design strategy that it takes ownership of, in a well-informed and proactive way.

2. Whilst government should oppose any move to remove design from the national curriculum, we also need to think again about how design operates in schools.

3. Further Education routes into the sector need to be expanded and improved.

4. Higher Education needs protecting and funding.

Many of the ideas and possible solutions to fulfilling these recommendations centre on delivering a more vocational curriculum, and increasing work placements and employer engagement.

Above all, its about convincing government and stakeholders that design education provides us with graduates who are able to work in a variety of creative roles in all sectors, who understand the nature of problem-solving and creative thinking, who are of value to employers, and who are capable of substantial contributions to society.

Restarting Britain - Design Education and Growth
Design Council website