4 art and design schools where talent meets opportunity

In a world where technology is redefining the way we live and interact with industry, it’s easy to understand why more and more prospective students are choosing STEM subjects to propel them into a lifelong career. But for those looking to keep ahead of the game, choosing a creative subject could provide an equally rewarding future.

Forbes recently made a compelling case for creativity as “one of the most coveted skills of the future”. For all the positives attributed to technology and computers, these tools lack human creativity and the ability to dream up visions for the future.

In the UK today, the creative industries are growing faster than any other sector, contributing £92 billion to the economy every year, according to Government statistics from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). In 2017, over two million people were employed in the creative industries, accounting for six percent of all UK jobs.

The creative sector is incredibly varied, from practical roles such as artists, fashion designers, graphic designers and actors, to numerous administrative and managerial roles that can see graduates working in a variety of practices to support creative organisations.

Here are 4 UK art and design schools that place importance on industry opportunities to allow students to flourish in their creative careers…


Founded in 1891, Buckinghamshire New University has the arts firmly rooted in its core, originally starting as the School of Science and Art. Over 125 years later, the university is still leading the way in art and design-focused education, investing more than £100 million into university facilities to meet the needs of students and staff.

The School of Art, Design and Performance has reaped the benefits of these funds, supported by outstanding specialist facilities. The department offers an extensive list of courses, with over 30 at undergraduate-level alone. Subjects offered range from BA (Hons) Creative Advertising, BA (Hons) Product Design, BA (Hons) Fashion Design, BA (Hons) Graphic Design, BA (Hons) Illustration, BA (Hons) Textile Design and BA (Hons) Interior and Spatial Design.

From working on live project briefs to industry visits and work-related opportunities, the department prides itself on offering career-focused courses, enabled through the university’s vast network of industry connections. At Bucks New University, applied learning is blended with academic study and real-world experiences to prepare graduates for the world beyond its walls.

Buckinghamshire New University, Angel DiCapite – Illustration Concept

With every year providing different opportunities, previous students have benefited in the following ways…

Advertising students have been able to take advantage of links with big name agencies such as BBH, AMV BBDO and Saatchi. Illustration students have been involved in live projects for companies like Faber Publishing, and have received visits from the likes of Olivier Rabenschlag, Creative Director of Google, who was himself a Bucks graduate.

Learners here also have the chance to showcase their own work at the annual creative student showcase, as well as debuting their work at several industry events across London.

Art and Design students at Bucks New University will not find themselves short of creative opportunities and collaborations to prepare them for their future careers.


Ranked 8th in the UK for art and design, Nottingham Trent University has been teaching in this discipline since 1843, making it one of the UK’s most established creative universities. The university was also awarded Modern University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018.

The School of Art and Design offers an array of creative courses for both undergraduate and postgraduate students, all of which are designed with industry in mind. A glance at just some of the courses on offer includes the BA (Hons) Fashion Design, BA (Hons) Graphic Design, BA (Hons) Photography, BA (Hons) Animation, BA (Hons) Filmmaking and BA (Hons) Fine Art.

All courses offered here aim to provide students with real life industry experience to prepare them for a successful future in the creative industries. Many of the courses, including the BA in Fashion Design, BA Fine Art and the BA in Graphic Design, are consistently recognised as some of the best in the country.

Using the BA in Fashion Design as an example, this year saw the course ranked 5th in the UK for Fashion and Textiles, according to the 2019 Guardian University Guide. Students of the programme can get involved with live projects with companies such as Oasis, Boohoo, Mulberry, ASOS, River Island and Burberry, as well as international exchange programmes.

The end of Degree Show is a chance for all creative students to showcase their work within the Art and Design School as they make the transition from education to the working world. A recent initiative means the school now funds the cost of degree shows for final year students.

Within the department there have also been major investments in student facilities. New equipment and resources across the school, including photographic kit, digital fabric printer, 3D printers, knit and weave machinery, sewing machines, audio visual equipment, dress stands and new animation hardware and software ensure students are working with industry-standard equipment.


The School of Art and Design at Coventry University prides itself on its long tradition of producing highly-employable graduates, who quickly become valuable assets across global creative industries.

With courses available from foundation-level up to PhD, students will use a range of cutting-edge technologies and traditional methods to develop their unique skills and cultivate creativity. Each student is taught and encouraged to put their own unique stamp on their work, build ideas at the initial concept stage and make them a reality with this finished product. Staff here are on hand to support the students, each qualified as active practitioners, researchers and writers in their respective fields.

Prospective students can choose from a range of disciplines including Architecture, Automotive and Transport Design, Interior Design, Product Design, Graphic Design, Illustration and Animation, Fine Art, Foundation and Fashion.

Professionally-accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Architecture programme at Coventry deploys a practical approach to learning, with a strong focus on imagination and communication. The Department runs regular skills sessions to help students develop their drawing and model making skills, which is an integral part of studio work.

In the Guardian University Guide 2019, Coventry ranks in the Top 10 universities for Architecture, with particular thanks to the excellent graduate opportunities available to the students here. Alumni can be found working across the globe in leading architectural environments, including Aedas RHwL, Faulkner Browns Architects, C.F. Møller Architects and Schmidt Hammer Lassen.

Additionally, graduates from Coventry have claimed a number of distinctive awards, including animation Oscars, Penguin book cover prizes and Sky Arts awards. The Automotive and Transport undergraduate course was named the best in the world by Car Design News, while the International Red Dot Institute ranked the Department as number one in the country.


Boasting the UK’s largest practising community of artists and designers outside of London, Sheffield has a rich history of creative energy and artistic excellence. The Sheffield Institute of Arts is an important cog in the creative output of the city, providing the perfect platform for future success in the arts.

Established in 1843 to provide creative support to the booming manufacturing industry, the Sheffield Institute of Arts was used in a bid to stay ahead of vast global competition. Fast-forward almost 200 years and the relationship with the commercial and industrial world is stronger than ever.

Students here are exposed to a plethora of opportunity to interact with the working world, forming invaluable relationships with potential future employers. The school runs various internship and placement programmes with product designers, developers, filmmakers, fashion designers and more to help students prepare for life after graduation.

Joining the Sheffield Institute of Arts is about joining a diverse community of makers. Staff, students and partners collaborate and bounce ideas off one another with a view of incubating true innovation and creativity. You will be pushed to reach new creative heights, think critically and express yourself in new ways. Sheffield Hallam ranks in the top two modern universities in the UK for art and design research.

This success would never have been possible without the amazing equipment, facilities and technology available to students and researchers alike. Facilities are often better than what graduates can expect in the workplace.  This gives the students here a headstart on other graduates in the industry.

*Some institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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