Are Universities Failing Design Students?


One BIDA member believes they are. In an open letter to BIDA, Wyn Jones, Creative Director of Design Reality described his frustration with the state of higher design education in the UK:

“It’s time for industry to accredit a minimum standard for all undergraduate Industrial and Product Design courses so that students get the educational value they deserve (and pay for), and industry has the quality of graduates it desperately needs. BIDA should be working with industry to set this minimum standard and the time to do this is now.

The recent survey by BIDA shows that the spread of student employability is not changing year-on-year whereby 10 universities are producing quality students and the other 45 are not.

The students entering these courses with no transparency on its quality, and for employers who are looking for skilled graduates to tackle the design demands of the future and candidates are coming up short.”

Wyn Jones explains that BIDA and the design industry should be the ones to protect students and hold Universities accountable:

“What’s needed is a simple accreditation badge that proves that a course gives students half-a-chance of employment in a very competitive market. These 18-year olds have little idea of what they need to learn and what standard is expected upon graduation.

A team of accreditors (made up of designers and academics from the top 10) is needed to provide a rounded in-house and consultancy-led approach to the formation of university curriculum. This will lead to a balanced moderation and, most importantly, standardisation between grade levels and teaching at all universities. Students need to be made aware of the accreditation standards through UCAS ratings so they can make informed decisions about the course they take and their future employability.

Masters level degrees have to incorporate the additional skills required by industry to make the designers of the future. Skills such as electronics, software and mechanical engineering to project management and business are all vital, especially with the pace of change associated with Industry 4.0.”

You can read the full letter here. Do you agree or disagree?  Please add you comments to the debate.

BIDA are planning a webcast to discuss this further.  Make sure you join the debate. Follow our LinkedIn page to receive updates.

Thank-you to Wyn Jones for sending in this open letter, we are proud to have a membership that is passionate about design and willing to challenge the status-quo.