suspended judgment - “what is a pencil”
Many people have asked me a certain question recently and that is which university is best to attend for graphic design based courses, and where would I recommend. I think this is a good question to ask, and as within the article ‘Money for Nothing?’ in the latest issue of Ampersand it is a complex question that provides almost as many questions as answers!
So let us take the first element: Do I need to go to university to succeed in graphic design?
I think it something you really need to decide and investigate into, because there are a different options out there for you, especially with the raising of tuition fees in the UK recently. One of these options is a HND course. Usually spread over two years, with the option to find a university to do a third year to top it up to a degree, it is probably the cheapest option you can take, but you have to really research into the areas you’ll cover and what you will actually get to experience.
You also have to be aware that depending on what companies you desire to work for depends on whether they will look at this route as either ‘the cheap option’ or whether they will look at it as you being pro-active and wanting to get into the industry as soon as possible. It is an option to look into and lots of colleges can offer this, Worcester College of Art and Technology runs a very direct, commercially savvy and in-depth HND course.
Next up is: ‘I want to move somewhere fun and exciting’
Well if that is the case, you would be best looking at the city-based universities, Manchester, Cardiff (Glamorgan), Leeds College of Art, Ravensbourne in London. This decision usually leads to lots of ‘live’ projects and an opportunity to work with bigger companies out there in these cities due to the links the universities have, and the wide number of opportunities in a small space. Who could fail to be inspired by the bustle and history of London? Or the regeneration of Cardiff? The musical creativity and history of Manchester? It is certainly something you would do best to explore, but just think of the cost implications - what do you get for the extra expenditure in these sought after areas?
Finally is: ‘___________ is really high in the overall league tables and is really well known.’
This can pose a problem. They may be well known and be top universities, but are they well known for the subject area you want to do? Do they have a ‘house style’ and push you into areas of design that don’t hold your interest so much? If you really enjoy typography, yet they only do one typography project in three years is that what you want to do?
Places like Nottingham are great, but are they really for you? Do you like a more personable approach, or would you rather have more people on your course and be just a number on the register of students?
This is why it is important to visit universities, speak to tutors or students - find out what the real deal is!
Just don’t leave yourself short changed!