CAMPAIGN CRAFT: COLUMN; State of design education is the real issue today

There we were, 25 lecturers on a five-day D&AD course designed to bring us up to date on current thinking in design and advertising.

There we were, 25 lecturers on a five-day D&AD course designed to bring

us up to date on current thinking in design and advertising.



It was an exhilarating and exhausting week; a bit like being plugged

into the national grid. I, for one, felt I had had my ideas turned

upside down, been given a good slapping, told to smarten myself up and

then had a shot in the arm of something that made me feel euphoric.



We covered a lot of ground, looking at present and future trends, the

uses and abuses of market research, new media and the international

scene.



Again and again we were made to realise just how much of an edge good

advertising and design can give the client in a competitive market. We

were shown lots of examples of the power of a good idea to transform

markets and change people’s thinking. This was inspiring stuff and we

were part of it.Then they started firing shots at us.



‘Whatever happened to the old traditional training art colleges used to

give?’, Tim Mellors asked. No one, it seems, learns their trade from the

ground up any more. We were producing students who were all style and no

substance. Paul Weinberger didn’t even want to take creative teams

direct from college any more, he was so unimpressed with the quality of

writers produced.



Next, a group of young designers and art directors gave us their

experience of college and how it prepared them for work. This was

uncomfortable - some of them got their first jobs in spite of their

education, not because of it.



But we got a chance to put our side of the story and the force of it

caught us all by surprise. We spoke of courses quadrupled in size,

lecturers virtually running courses single-handed and massive cuts in

part-time lecturers’ hours - the very lifeblood of design education.



This last session generated a lot of discussion and the panel seemed

shocked to realise how bad the situation is.



Suddenly, it’s Friday and it’s all over - or we think it is.



Graham Fink arrives and stays just long enough to tell us we can make a

difference. His enthusiasm, like that of all the speakers this week, is

palpable - clearly, you feel, some teacher made a difference to him.



Was the experience worth it? You bet. If every lecturer went on this

course every student would benefit, but perhaps a bigger issue has been

raised here, and that’s the state of design education today.



David Morris is the head of advertising at Buckinghamshire College



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