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4 universities evolving artistic students into creative practitioners

Buckinghamshire New University
Source: Buckinghamshire New University (Facebook)

Art is more than pretty visuals. It’s bringing compelling ideas to life. It’s creating meaningful and longitudinal impact. From designing classic timepieces to coming up with eye-catching product packaging to displaying a stunning theatre performance, art is more than just an image. Each piece tells a story. 

If this intrigues you, enrolling in a school of art might just be for you. After all, art, design and performance are one of the most varied disciplines out there. In the UK, art programmes have been growing in popularity since 2020, becoming one of the most popular subjects netizens search about in QS Top Universities.

In 2019, the UK’s creative industries contributed £115.9 billion to the economy, a 43.6% increase since 2010, according to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Creative industries across the UK are driving local and national economic growth, with local economies growing their creative industries employment by an average of 11%, twice as fast as other sectors, according to Nesta’s research, in partnership with the Creative Industries Council. These figures demonstrate that the creative industry is now a vibrant sector with lots of opportunities for graduate careers. 

Most importantly, every art course in the UK is designed with your graduate journey in mind. 

If art is something you want to pursue, check out these four art universities that can shape you to become budding creative practitioners: 

Buckinghamshire New University’s School of Art, Design and Performance

Buckinghamshire New University

At Buckinghamshire New University, everyone has the power to be creative. Source: Buckinghamshire New University

There’s no limit to what you can achieve at Buckinghamshire New University (BNU). Located in Buckinghamshire, BNU’s School of Art, Design and Performance is the top school for students looking to launch successful art and creative careers.

BNU ranks highly in The Guardian league tables, at 77th in the The Guardian University Guide 2022, seventh in the 2022 fashion and textiles league table, and 12th in the 2022 design and crafts league table. This is the university’s third consecutive rise in The Guardian league tables, with a 44-place ranking improvement since 2019. 

BNU places a strong emphasis on applied learning and developing real-world skills. Learning is very much hands-on, where students are consistently encouraged to experiment with techniques, materials and more. A comprehensive and well-rounded understanding of your programme is what you’ll gain at BNU. 

Whether you’re considering a degree that will give you a firm grounding in the arts and creative field, looking to chart your postgraduate study with the institution, or aiming to hone and develop your skills with the industry’s latest professional development training, BNU is your go-to university. It will help you prepare, learn and gain knowledge towards your future, so that upon graduation, you’ll be ready for the working world. 

With excellent networks and contacts, BNU enriches the experiences and career opportunities of its students. Not convinced? The university has been around for 130 years, meaning that they have the experience to support, nurture and mould you to be the best you can be.

Find out how you can be a part of BNU’s School of Art, Design and Performance here

Wolverhampton School of Art

Wolverhampton School of Art

Gain high-level skills and learn to understand your subject’s historical and contemporary scope at Wolverhampton School of Art. Source: Wolverhampton School of Art

Exceptional 3D design facilities. Outstanding fashion and textile facilities. Excellent animation, computer games design, media film and television production facilities. Industry-level graphic design and illustration facilities. Spacious fine art studios. Some of the best photography studios in the UK. Well-equipped ceramics and glass facilities. All of these specialist facilities are within Wolverhampton School of Art’s George Wallis building — a purpose-built architectural landmark that dominates the Wolverhampton skyline. 

Students get to join a creative, practice-led community. It’s an experiential learning community where you’ll find the time, ample space, and vast resources at Wolverhampton School of Art to gain high-level skills as creatives and learn to understand your subject’s historical and contemporary scope. It’s the perfect environment for creativity to flourish. 

As the leading modern university with a tradition of providing opportunity and academic excellence, the Wolverhampton School of Art houses over 30 art, design and media undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. All of the courses are calibrated to meet the needs of the industry, preparing students to become creative professionals within the many pathways in the creative industry. 

Since 1851, the Wolverhampton School of Art has spotlighted contemporary artistic practice and acted as a beacon for creative enterprise — regionally, nationally and internationally. The university has forged numerous links with industry over the years, and, in return, many companies and organisations sponsor student awards. As a university that celebrates and embraces progressive causes, the Wolverhampton School of Art gives prominence to many initiatives. These are just some traits that form an integral part of the university’s vision to provide opportunities for a wide variety of arts engagement and creative exploration.

Norwich University of the Arts

Norwich University of the Art

Norwich University of the Art’s tutors are experts in their field and offer individualised attention. Source: Norwich University of the Art

Located in one of Britain’s greenest, safest cities. An award-winning student body of creatives. A picturesque environment home to thriving art, music, and cultural scenes. A community of budding makers and creators. These are several reasons why students from all over the world flock to Norwich University of the Arts (NUA). It’s a place where any creative aspiration can be nurtured. 

NUA’s courses are practical. Students will experiment with different techniques and test different formats. The tutors, on the other hand, are experts in their field and offer individualised attention that can advance your knowledge swiftly and enhance your academic experience as a whole. That’s not all. You’ll hear from visiting professionals about the latest practice in the workplace, and expert technicians who will give you the chance to develop essential skills during introductory sessions. 

Look around the city centre campus, and you will find dedicated studios, media labs, creative spaces, plus cutting-edge and industry-standard equipment in 11 buildings, all of which have been designed to help you build specialist knowledge and flourish in the programme. All of these installations won a THELMA Award in 2018 for outstanding buildings, and sit among the cafés, bars, independent galleries and shops of Norwich’s cultural quarter. Besides the beautiful city, inspiration can be found on every corner of the campus. It’s a trove for creators and makers. 

Employers and industries value an NUA education. From being awarded Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework and being ranked among the World’s Top 50 Creative Schools by The Rookies in 2020 to winning international design competitions and achieving recognition for creative excellence –– NUA is a proven launchpad for aspiring artists.

University of Portsmouth School of Art, Design and Performance

University of Portsmouth

A place where everyone gets the support they need. Source: University of Portsmouth (Facebook)

Improving people’s lives and understanding of each other through thoughtful and challenging works — a sentiment the University of Portsmouth’s School of Art, Design and Performance strongly believes in. It’s a place where everyone gets the support they need to achieve their best. From educating and transforming students to supporting the staff to shape an experiential learning environment to partnering with businesses, industries, and the government, the University of Portsmouth is a world-class university that makes a difference. 

Here, teachers place students at the centre of their work — developing a strong entrepreneurial culture and helping students produce diverse and varied careers that reflect their solid creative identities. Their collaborative, project-based approach to teaching and learning gives students the skill sets to become highly employable graduates. Many of these graduates have become independent, confident artists and practitioners in a range of fields, namely theatre-making and event producing, education, performing, fashion and textile design, graphic design, photography, and illustration, as well as started their own companies. 

True to their beliefs and values of making a difference through transformational education, research, and innovation, 95% of the School of Arts, Design and Performance graduates found work or pursued further study within six months of graduation, according to the HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey conducted in 2019. Teaching, employability, internationalisation, facilities, arts and culture, and inclusiveness; these traits matter when choosing the right university. That’s why the University of Portsmouth achieved a five-star rating for each of these traits.

Since opening their doors, almost everything at the university has changed, except for one thing — they are as ambitious as ever. It’s a place where everyone gets to explore and experiment as part of a community and identify their strengths and individual style as artists and makers. 

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