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1 Preliminaries


1.1 Relationship to CHEAD Survey

1.1.1 In September 1995, the Conference for Higher Education in Art & Design (CHEAD) published Information Technology Survey. The report, based upon 48 questionnaire responses and 12 management interviews, focused mainly on the deficit of IT equipment for staff and students in art and design, but also addressed issues such as technical support and staff development. It described what it perceived to be an anomaly in the equipment funding model for art and design and estimated a total shortfall across the sector of 1,972 standard art and design computers and 527 high performance art and design computers. It costed the value of this shortfall at £52.8 million.


1.1.2 This report attempts to build upon that work by reviewing the current state of computing in art and design, describing the strategic issues that institutions perceive with respect to the next three to five years, and suggesting ways forward for art & design units in the difficult situation of growing expectations and falling units of resource.


1.1.3 This report is based upon twenty interviews that took place during visits to eleven HEIs during September - December 1996. The sample was chosen to include as many different types of institution as possible. Interviews were conducted with managerial, teaching, technical and IT professional staff. The interviews were semi-structured around a set of topics, some of which arose from the CHEAD report while others concerned future problems and possibilities.


1.1.4 This is a more qualitative report than the CHEAD Survey and its main purpose is to articulate and analyse the problems perceived by the sector so that there may be more debate and actions can be taken. The main body of the report is divided into three main sections covering: changes in the context since 1995, a description of the situation as described in the institutions visited, and strategic issues which need to be considered by individual HEIs.


1.1.5 Two drafts of the report were produced. The first was circulated to eight people and the second to twelve. Among the twenty reviewers some of the people interviewed, some other people in art & design previously unassociated with the project and some people in leading organisations concerned with the development of related strategies (though not themselves involved in art & design). Their many comments and insights provided both a consensus of support for the main contents of the report and many detailed amendments which have greatly strengthened its presentation.



1.2 The nature of art & design

1.2.1 "Art & Design" is used throughout this report to describe a range of sub-disciplines which historically have included painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, graphic design, typography, illustration, fashion and textiles, product design, furniture, metalwork, ceramics, glassware, jewellery and performance arts, but which also includes the more contemporary media arts such as video, television, film, animation and multimedia. At various points sub-disciplines of art & design merge into related disciplines such as engineering design, interior design, landscape and architectural design, theatre, dance and music studies and human-computer interface design.


1.2.2 There is an expectation that, in contrast to the recent past, the HE sector will adopt an increasing trend towards integration, harmonisation and collaboration and that this trend will be manifest at institutional, national and European levels. Within such a context it is critical for art and design units to have a clear sense of the particular valuable contributions they can make within a larger picture. Some of the more important features that, in the context of this report, distinguish art and design educational practices from those of other disciplines are as follows.

(a) Learning in art & design is principally about developing understanding through activity and the development of skills, unlike many other disciplines in which understanding is achieved through the acquisition of knowledge.

(b) Art and design students learn predominantly through an iterative process of making products and critically reviewing them.

(c) Art & design education accepts a diversity of individual performances (i.e. different students can produce radically different solutions). In many other disciplines there is an expectation of a convergence of student performance towards a single solution.

(d) The control of tools is integral to the practice of artists and designers. The educational process provides a thorough practical knowledge of tools, not least because many new products are the result of an innovative use of tools.

(e) Most working and learning takes place through activity in a studio or workshop, rather than in a lecture theatre.

(f) Research in art and design is an integral part of creative practice and embodies appropriate methodologies which are not necessarily shared by any other discipline.


1.2.3 There is no single source for statistics on the numbers of art and design units and students. The CHEAD survey reported that there were 69,906 full-time equivalent students in UK ASC 10 (Art, Design & Performing Arts) in 1994 based upon funding council figures. Using UCAS figures for 1996, there are currently 68,952 art and design students undertaking degree courses in 154 institutions, and a further 11,619 students undertaking HND courses in 82 institutions.


1.2.4 Art and design is taught both within "specialist colleges" (i.e. colleges which teach only sub-disciplines from the list in section 1.2.1), and within "universities" (i.e. institutions which teach many other disciplines). Within the latter group art and design is taught predominantly within the 'new' universities, but is present in university sector colleges and some 'old' universities.


1.2.5 The term "art and design unit" is used in the report to refer to any unit that is responsible for this subject area. Depending upon the institution, this may be the whole institution, a particular faculty or a department within a faculty.