which UK UNI is best for Graphics?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by Simplesimon101, May 7, 2007.

  1. Simplesimon101 macrumors regular

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    Oct 5, 2006
    #1
    hi i'm thinking about where to study graphics when i go to university... i wondered if anyone who knows about these things could help me in my choice (employers, current designers, students, etc)

    i'm currently enrolled on a Graphics BTEC and am on course to get a distinction grade (...so you know that i'm serious about it). i'm now taking a gap year and will apply to uni during that year... the thing is i've found it hard to gague the reputations of the courses and uni's that i've been looking at? as the uni's that offer the Graphic Design generally aren't in the standard league tables with the more traditional unis (not that league tables are all that helpful anyway...)

    anyway i guess (in an ideal world) i'd be looking for...
    • a good standard of teaching (actual instruction, teaching skills as well as more general creative and critical thinking)
    • 'good' students attracted there (...i mean people that primarily at uni to learn, are creative, etc)
    • good facilities (own working space)
    • smaller class sizes
    • good reputation
    • good location (?) (not so important tho... i'm mainly thinking about the actual course here)

    at the moment i've been looking at...
    • Central St. Martins (i know this one has a good rep... how hard is it to get in to?)
    • Falmouth*
    • UWE (bristol)*
    • The Arts Institute at Bournemouth*

    (* as i live in the SWest... but i'd go further if the uni was great... well if they let me in)

    any help would be great! thanks.
     
  2. iGav macrumors G3

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    Mar 9, 2002
    #2
    and...

    Obviously not serious enough. ;) Weheh.

    Your best bet is to hit New Designers in July at the Business Design Centre in Islington and ask the final year students what their courses were actually like, rather than base your choice on institute propaganda. ;)
     
  3. Simplesimon101 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    yer i would say i'm serious in a more sortof laid back way... :D

    thanks for the other advice tho... good stuff.
     
  4. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #4
    I've been to both Falmouth and Bournemouth for interviews, both are very good.

    Falmouth I felt was the better choice had I got in, my best friend is there now (I also have a friend in Bournemouth as well) and its a better place to be compared to Bournemouth. I would try your chances there, you'll need that distinction, (treble distinction would be better ;)) if you get in its because they only take the best and a lot of people try to get in. Both my friends study Graphic Design.

    When I decide to do my MA, I'm going to try Falmouth again.

    If you are serious I would suggest skipping the gap year and get straight into it, time waits for no man.

    Falmouth is on par with London for acquiring and producing talent but has the advantage of being in a lovely location, its a great excuse to visit my friend each year. Falmouth being in Cornwall is classed as a Sub-Tropical climate zone as well just so you know.

    Another thing, the ratio of female to male students is totally out of proportion, there are more women than men, my friend is finding it hard to bag herself a bloke because of the shortage. Another bonus har har!

    Bournemouth I think is slightly cheaper to live though, Falmouth does cost more.

    The cheapest place to study in the whole of the UK, is Swansea Institute by the way, I should know because thats where I am. The last place I was in was charging 32.50 a week including water, that was in the accommodation guide as being the cheapest as well, I checked.

    The facilities at all 3 uni's I've mentioned are top notch as well, I can't speak about the other 2 in more detail because I haven't been on their respective campus's for 2 years now. But here at Swansea, we have the 8 core MacPro's and 20" iMac Core 2 Duo's, I've also seen a 30" Cinema Display floating around as well.
     
  5. OwlsAndApples macrumors 6502a

    OwlsAndApples

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    #5
    I've still got a while but I'm pretty certain I'll study art (I'll take a foundation year first though to be certain what I like best). One of my friends cried for days after they found out they didn't get into Brighton Art school. Hmmm...Brighton would be perfect for me location-wise; far enough away from my parents, but easy to get to and from by train if I need to beg for money face to face :)

    St Martins has a really good rep, as does Chelsea and Goldsmiths...and loads more London ones.
     
  6. northernmunky macrumors 6502a

    northernmunky

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    #6
    I just finished my MA from Bournemouth Media School, best experience ever!

    I checked out the arts institute next door while I was there, I found it strange that while the media students at BU were all hyped up and running around on film shoots... the arts institute students were so chilled out they looked like theyve been stoned most of their lives! :rolleyes:
     
  7. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    .. London ..
    #7
    Don't go somewhere just cos it's cheap or there's lots of women/men/sheep there. Look for a place where the famous graduating artists / designers have a style that matches yours, and has a good rep.

    My brother went to Falmouth (foundation course) then Goldsmiths (BA Fine Art). He never told me much about Falmouth, so I'll talk about Goldsmiths.

    Goldsmiths is one of the most difficult places to get in for Fine Art in the country. I visited my brother there many times, and I notice that they seem to select people who have a 'something different' about them.

    Before Goldsmiths, my brother's exam results weren't all that good, but he's someone who is very devoted to following his own path in life, and they seem to pick up on things like that in their interviews.

    Goldsmiths' course is extremely theoretical, with very heavy art theory sessions. They also have a good rep in design too.

    I'm a bit miffed they don't seem to teach much in the way of how to actually make a living as an artist i.e. deal with tax, invoices, dealers, selling work etc. I don't think any university does tho.

    Taking a year out could be useful - my brother did one before Goldsmiths, and I think it helped round him out. Make sure you use it well if you're serious about art /design i.e. get a job linked with art/design, or travel with a purpose or focus on building up your own portfolio.
     
  8. djellison macrumors 68020

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    Pasadena CA
    #8
    FWIW - I've been working for a Medical E-Learning firm for nearly 7 years now - we've taken on a few people in that time and I've been involved in the selection process every time. The actual course someone has come from doesn't matter one iota as far as we're concerned. It's down to two things - what you're like as a person, and what you can do as a creative - and both at an equal level of importance to be honest - no point having a creative genius if you can't work with them because they're a complete barsteward.

    Find the course that you think you will enjoy the most - the one that seems to suit the sort of things you like doing...then start working. Don't expect the place to really teach you a great deal, expect it to be an opportunity to improve yourself in your own time, using the course as a means of structuring and testing that improvement.

    If an assignment to do some sort of project comes along - see if you can tie that project in with a real-life purpose - i.e. make a new website for a local charity, make a promo vid for a local venue of some sort. A small, complete, end to end little project is a very impressive thing for a prospective employer. It shows the full suite of talents required.

    Try to avoid group work. I know that sometimes it's unavoidable in Uni courses - and it has some uses but it's always a pain in the ass to get lumped with the sponging moron who'll do nothing for three years, bring your group project down and scrape a 3rd at the end. Nothing, in the interview situation, is worse than "Wow - you did all that?" "No - I just did that little bit"

    Then, when it's done, you're in a job at £18k because you've no real experience and you've got £15k of loan to slowly pay off...try not to spend too much time thinking "hmm - was that really worth it"

    If you're good, if you're easy to work with, if you can deliver...you'll do fine.

    :)

    Doug
     
  9. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #9
    I doubt you would have started your post with that line if it wasn't for me mentioning it, but I do have to say that I was not listing those as reasons for going to a University. They were merely the benefits or positives of going to those places.
     
  10. Simplesimon101 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Oct 5, 2006
    #10
    some useful stuff...

    thanks guys...

    yer actually i think the gap year will be really useful... my sister did a similar thing to what i've got planned (some stuff here in the uk followed by volunteer work in the third world)... i know it's very cliche to do the whole 'gap year' thing these days but i think she found it really help her as you say (RedTomato) to 'round her off' and i guess it sets you up with confidence in yourself so you don't have to deal with all that when you go to uni... you can just concentrate on the work more cos you know what it's like to be independant and you can look after yourself (not that i'm a workaholic... but i do definatly want to achieve stuff in my time there)

    "The actual course someone has come from doesn't matter one iota as far as we're concerned." - djellison​
    is that specifically related to hiring designers? (sorry i don't know how to do the proper quote thing?!)

    "Don't expect the place to really teach you a great deal, expect it to be an opportunity to improve yourself in your own time, using the course as a means of structuring and testing that improvement." - djellison​

    yer that's what i've heard from alot of the conversations i've had with people is that they just dont actually teach you stuff... but actually all of what you've said is really great... thanks.

    "Goldsmiths' course is extremely theoretical, with very heavy art theory sessions. They also have a good rep in design too." - RedTomato​

    yer from what i hear alot of the london uni's are all quite theoretical... a friend of mine who's very good at graphics got into chelsea but in the end he turned them down cos they where too 'out there' and now he's at an ex-poly. i'm not sure how i'd get on with the pretentiousness of some of the london Uni's either...

    um... i think in terms of grades i should be able to get into most places (on course for a triple distinction)... tho i'm not sure if my current portfolio will be experimental/fine arty enough for some of the london uni's?! but then the ex-polys don't sound that exciting (in terms of rep or uni life?!) umm...

    actually alot of what djellison said has helped i think (tho thanks to everyone for your help) just in terms of general advice more than anything.

    i've been thinking about UWE cos it's got the option to do animation in the second year and make it into a joint degree... which i think would be really cool... it's just a friend told me that the classes where big, there was no permenant individual work space and alot of the students seemed to be slackers (as in they where there just to be 'at uni' rather than for the course)... which seems to detract from it (although that's probably just uni in general?!) falmouth looks like it's got a good rep... but it doesn't do the animation/motion graphics?!

    this has helped a lot so far... i haven't made a choice yet... but it's given me stuff to think about and set me on a good track...
     
  11. G.Kirby macrumors regular

    G.Kirby

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    #11
    Swansea Institute has a lot to offer so come and have a chat with us at New Designers if you can. If you can't make it we have some open days in November (2nd/3rd) and our final year show is in Swansea Grand Theatre 22nd - 25th May. :)
     
  12. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #12
    I didn't know you were registered here, how cool is that!
     
  13. djellison macrumors 68020

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    #13
    We've hired a traditional illustrator and a webdesign/authorware guy. Both times we found a few people could probably do the job, but found one person to be on our wavelength, have a sense of humours and be easy to get along with...one of them is sat in the same office as me right now on a really good salary 2 years out of university.

    Doug
     
  14. MacPanda macrumors regular

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    Oct 15, 2006
    #14
    whatever you do don't go to central saint martins - i am doing a course there at the moment in graphic design and it is really bad - no support at all really really poor - it just relys on its reputation to lure people in - got get swallowed like i did.
     
  15. 20rogersc macrumors 65816

    20rogersc

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    #15
    MacPanda, that's interesting, I've heard about a lot of good things from there.

    Anyway, I would suggest any uni in London. Think about the amount of contacts that you could make, and it is also such an inspirational place to be.

    Just for the info, I'm going to Goldsmiths next year, and I love it, would recommend it to anyone. The facilities are amazing, and is considered "#1 in creative courses" (or something like that).

    ::20ROGERSC::
     
  16. CortexRock macrumors 6502

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    Canterbury, England
    #16
    How about the University College for Creative Arts in Canterbury, UK? (Used to be the Kent Institute for Art & Design).

    Might be worth a look - and Canterbury is a great place to live, even for a couple of years.
     
  17. iGav macrumors G3

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    #17
    That's Business Studies mate, that's why. ;)
     
  18. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #18
    No, it's a simple issue of making a living as an artist. I have no arts qualifications, never studied art, but I make from my art activities and arts funding, er, several times what my brother does from his art stuff.

    What really helped me was taking a one year course on becoming a freelance art gallery guide, and that covered finding and engaging with clients, selling myself, dealing with tax, expenses, self-employment, industry contacts, building up a market for my stuff, how to get help with arts grants etc.

    Priceless. I applied all that to my art activities. The business side took a lot of my time to set up and it basically took over my art time for almost 2 years, but having done it, I'm so much more relaxed about the future now and can focus on my work more instead of stressing about money. Unlike my brother who still struggles, despite getting one of the best art degrees in the world. (We work in very different fields, so it's not a question of talent.)
     
  19. Simplesimon101 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19
    is that a common feeling from among most of guys on your course as well?

    also on a slight tangent... i wondered if there was such a thing as a graphic appenticship for people out of college? (with a good portfolio that showed potential)... i'm just wondering if it'd be nice to skip the middle man and not have to start my life with a big debt! i'm guessing there are downsides to this option too... but i thought i'd ask (i mean we're supposed to be creatives afterall!) :)
     
  20. MagicWok macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Kingston University. Full stop.

    I went there - and graduated. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the best places to go for Graphic Design in the country.

    The tutors and studios are fantastic, students regularly win D&AD/RSA/ISTD awards etc etc, and almost all of us got into placements straight away or into jobs. With companies such as Seymour Powell/Mother/WMH etc where we were hand picked from our degree show.

    Kingston also has a great reputation within the Graphic Design industry, I never regretted a second and Kingston definately helped me get my first job straight after a month or so break in the summer.

    Uni life is great, by the river so social scene is fantastic and the campus is fantastic, and I will always remember it.

    Highly recommended. :D
     
  21. 20rogersc macrumors 65816

    20rogersc

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    #21
    Many courses offer 4-year 'sandwich' courses, which allows you in the 3rd year to have a placement. This will give you experience in the industry (something to add to a CV), build up a better portfolio, and should aid you in your final year. These are paid (low salary, but hey), which allows you to reclaim some of your debts, and maybe even be offered a job there after you've graducated.

    It's definitely something to look in to, as it helps in many ways.

    ::20ROGERSC::
     
  22. mouchoir macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    I went to the London College of Printing (now London College of Communication) which is part of the Univerity of the Arts London, same as Central St Martins.

    It was a brilliant experience, as were the facilities. On the printing side there we had access to oil based screen printing, letterpress, woodblock... and then the teachers all still had very strong links with the industry and an amazing array of contacts.

    The visiting lecturers and personal tutors were all still in the industry, so could share there still very valid experience with you, and my tutorials were often held at my tutor's studio, which was a nice insight into the business.

    For me, being based in London was invaluble, because of both the sheer amount of things going on in the city, and the fact that the largest percentage of Graphic Design Studios are also based here. That is not to say the best studios are in London though (before I get attacked!). It made it very easy to go to exhibitions and talks held by designers, of which there are many.

    Don't let anyone talk you out of your gap year –*it is one of those things you may never get a chance to do again once you start working –*and I certainly wish I had the opportunity to do something similar at the time!
     
  23. G.Kirby macrumors regular

    G.Kirby

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    #23
    All our art and design students do a module called Professional Practice Studies that covers Copyright, Tax, Finance Etc. Basically all you need to know about setting up a creative business. Our students have regularly been entered for Business Studies competitions as examples of good practice and won. Keep in mind that we are talking about Graphic Design, Illustration, Surface Pattern, Photography students NOT Business Students.

    It is very important to know about Tax, Copyright and finances as a freelance Artist/Designer. :)
     
  24. iGav macrumors G3

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    #24
    I was being facetious fella. ;)
     
  25. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #25
    Aye but it was a good jumping point. I know a few established graphic artists/ designers who never did formal degrees - instead they took 1 year or 2 year courses as mature students in their late 20's or mid 30s, changing from totally different fields . That life experience gave them an edge.

    (in a couple of cases, it was after coming out of several years jail / living rough. )
     

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