From designer extraordinaire Donna Karan to author of box office hit “Crazy Rich Asians” Kevin Kwan, from Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp to VP of Google Creative Labs Robert Wong, these luminaries have forged blazing careers with their arts degrees.
With today’s organisations on the hunt for candidates with transferable skills — mainly the three C’s of creativity, critical thinking and communication — art and design students are increasingly the top picks for recruiters from within and beyond their studied industries. Why? These students do not just develop the ability to think outside the box. During their studies, they develop soft skills such as resilience, grit and most importantly, a growth mindset — all of which are key skills employers love. The World Economic Forum listed creativity as the third most in-demand skill in 2020, and in 2021, it’s not likely the demand will die down. According to a study by the British Academy and London Economics consultancy, businesses — including information and communications, finance, transport and property — all prefer arts, humanities and social science graduates.
The UK is known worldwide as a cultural and commercial hub for the arts, making it an ideal destination for international students looking to gain a globally-recognised qualification and professional experience. For those who wish to pursue their passion and to excel in the professional world later, these UK universities measure up:
Norwich University of the Arts
A Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) degree holds high value. To recruiters, it’s a mark of high-quality teaching, industry recognition and prior experience working with real companies. Many graduates progress to respected design studios — including the world’s largest design agency Pentagram — as well as software and gaming companies, or chart their own course as entrepreneurs. The value of an NUA education is apparent to employers even before students graduate — many land prized placements and internships during their course of study.
Amy Paske, a BA (Hons) Fashion Communication and Promotion student, secured a placement at British clothing retailer Boden’s art and branding departments. BA (Hons) Graphic Design student Leona Heung landed a summer internship at Equal Parts Studio in Toronto, which specialises in branding, identity, packaging, and digital design. Since 2017, NUA has also offered a range of exciting paid graduate internships in the East of England through its own scheme.
It’s the ideal complement to the knowledge, skills and experience they gain at NUA’s city centre campus. Located in the heart of a beautiful, historic small city, NUA students get to live in one of the UK’s safest, most affordable and most dynamic urban areas. Here, students get to practise their craft by working in studios and fully-equipped workshops that allow them to build specialist knowledge. Inspiration is plenty from award-winning buildings and visiting lecturers. Faculty members are practitioners and take a hands-on approach to teaching that is not just industry-led, but awarded Gold under the Teaching Excellence Framework.
It has more accolades. The university is ranked among the World’s Top 50 Creative Schools by The Rookies in 2020. From winning international design competitions to achieving recognition for creative excellence, NUA students and staff are regularly awarded for their work.
NUA has kept a stellar track record in arts, design and media education for over 170 years. To be part of this, pursue your passion at NUA — click here to know more.
University of Glasgow College of Arts
Since 1451, the University of Glasgow College of Arts has stayed at the forefront of teaching, learning and research in the arts and humanities. The college is also ranked among the world’s top 70 universities for these topics, according to QS World University Rankings in 2019.
Both students and alumni use the transferable skills they gained during their studies to begin a journey of unexpected career paths in amazing places. An English Literature/English Language graduate launched Badvo Distillery in Pitlochry. A Politics and French major is now a communication officer at the European Commision. A French and History graduate now uses his analytics skills at Drax Group. An English Literature graduate is now a communications executive at Bauer Media.
As a top cultural and creative city in the UK, Glasgow is home to over 100 cultural organisations and five of Scotland’s internally renowned performing arts companies. For international experiences, funding opportunities such as the Arts & Humanities Mobility Scholarship make travel accessible for those interested in studying or conducting research elsewhere. To learn more about the University of Glasgow’s College of Arts, click here.
Aberystwyth University School of Art
The School of Art at Aberystwyth University is one of the highest-ranking departments in the UK. Their aims? To supply the best arts scholarships, to assist its students in reaching their highest learning potential, and to help them gain the right knowledge, confidence and skills to forge a career in today’s competitive market.
Here, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and top-of-the-line educators. Among staffers are exhibiting artists, publishing art historians and practising curators — all working together to form an immersive and inspiring educational experience. These combined produce graduates that go one to excel in a wide range of sectors.
Almost all graduates of the School of Art are in work or further study within six months of graduating. Multiple alumni have successfully forged careers in creative industries, securing roles as artists, children’s book illustrators, graphic designers, university professors, researchers and curators.
Plymouth College of Art
Founded in 1856 as the first specialist school of art and design in the city, Plymouth College of Art is known for being home to physical and digital working environments. These environments encompass the richest and most diverse ecosystems of materials, technologies, processes and practices that are typically available in an art school.
The college is equipped with several strategic partnerships with universities and Erasmus locations that create opportunities for students on the lookout for hands-on experiences. Plymouth has an Advisory Board membership with Shanghai’s International Art City project and has collaborated with China’s art education experts for the 2019 Art and Design Innovation Future Education Expo. The college also boasts the Crafting Futures programme in Myanmar and the South Caucasus, the Making Futures conference held every two years and partnerships and research projects with Tate, the V&A and the British Council.
The best part is that students will be able to work with these international partners, an opportunity that will enable them to develop rich, dynamic horizons before embarking on their journey in the workforce. Plymouth’s surroundings are just as spectacular as its opportunities, with a specialist learning environment of industry-standard studios and workshops.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International