INTERSECTIONS - Annual Forum 2006
- RIBA, London
- 27 April 2006 00:00
What, and who, is art, design and media higher education for? Higher education within these broad subject areas is diverse; encompassing, to name just a few programmes, Art History, Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Fashion Marketing, Ceramics, and Media Broadcasting. As well as this mix of disciplines, “higher education” refers to a range of levels of study delivered through Higher National Diplomas, Foundation Degrees, Honours Degrees as well as post-graduate provision.
Its “functions” are evidently many and varied and priorities will depend largely on the stakeholder you ask. Is one of the key functions of these courses support for industry and the development of the economy? Or does higher education in these disciplines serve a different function? What role must higher education play in preparing graduates for employment? To what extent might the needs of industry and the aims of higher education overlap?
ADM-HEA’s annual forum INTERSECTIONS brought together a range of stakeholders to articulate and debate perspectives on relationships between art, design and media higher education and employment and industry. The forum, attended by lecturers, curriculum managers, learning and teaching coordinators, careers advisors and representatives from subject associations, attracted more participants than could be accommodated; the event’s popularity testified to the perceived value of the debate at this time.
Presentations were made by key figures whose roles impact on how relationships between higher education and the creative industries are conceived.
Jaine Chisholm Caunt and Kate O’Connor, spoke on behalf of the Sector Skills Councils; Skillfast and Skillset respectively. The Sector Skills Councils aim to “provide employer leadership for strategic targeted action to meet their sector’s skills and business needs” (Skillset, 2006). View Skillfast presentation.
Maggie Challis provided an overview of the history of Foundation Degrees and the role of Foundation Degree Forward (FDF). Challis presented Foundation Degrees as a “major feature of the government’s widening participation and intermediate professional skills strategies”. FDF have been working with relevant partners, for example, Higher and Further Education, employers, the Sector Skills Councils, to support the development of Foundation Degrees. View FDF presentation.
Maria Oliver presented the work of the National Arts Learning Network (NALN). NALN is an Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) initiative to widen participation in HE, particularly amongst learners with vocational backgrounds, by building progression routes from FE through to postgraduate study and employment. View the NALN presentation.
Lesley Morris, Head of Design Skills at the Design Council, explored the range of social, environmental, technological and economic factors impacting on design production and consumption in the early 21st century and outlined Design Council responses. Amongst other initiatives, Morris outlined the vision of the Design Industry Skills Development Plan: “By 2020 the UK design industry will be viewed by design buyers and consumers around the world as the global epicentre of high value creative skills and design led innovation.” The contribution of employers to higher education course development, delivery and assessment, was presented as an element of the plan to secure this vision. View the Design Council presentation.
Chris Wensley, Director of the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP), at Bournemouth University explored relationships between media practice teaching and its changing social and cultural context. He spoke of the need to utilise flexible and experiential approaches that develop graduates who are prepared both to respond to change as well as to “challenge, innovate and lead change”. View the CEMP presentation.
Afternoon discussion groups provided an opportunity for further exploration of subjects relating to employability and entrepreneurship, industry and skills, HE in FE and work-based learning. Participants articulated tensions between, for example, the aims of higher education and those of the agencies tasked with developing industry and the economy, between the skills needed by employers and the critical and analytical thinking associated with higher education. Tensions also emerged between a sense of value in developing employable and entrepreneurial graduates, and the challenges educational institutions face in ensuring equitable experiences through, for example, work-based learning.
INTERSECTIONS was chaired by Professor Maureen Wayman, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Art and Design at Manchester Metropolitan University. She suggested that these tensions might equally be seen as opportunities. They form a point of departure for thinking about the ways that higher education reflects and constructs its social, environmental, technological, as well as economic, milieu. They suggest that we question our practice, challenge ourselves, and provide the critical debate necessary for innovation and change.
Debbie Flint, Academic Developer, ADM-HEA
INTERSECTIONS was filmed by students from the Bournemouth Media School.
Contact ADM for free copies of the DVD.