Having read Pascal Raabe’s recent letter ’Funding is not the biggest problem for courses’ (DW 19 May), it would be useful to clarify what the universities are doing in the process of educating design students.
Students are being prepared for a professional future based in creativity and innovation where they will be decision-makers and agents of change, not just deliverers to meet entry-level business needs at the present moment. Raabe’s recipe for ’getting the new blood up to speed, such as employing apprenticeship schemes’, would not address the hopes and aspirations of our students or provide them with the potential to realise their opportunities in a fast-changing environment.
You will appreciate that as a university head of industrial design I am in dialogue with a variety of professional design consultancies, as well as having had a long career in the business myself, and perhaps Raabe would be surprised at the differences in requirement that different consultancies state as their expectations of graduates.
My job is to keep one step ahead to equip my students with what they will need for a long and diverse future to develop and benefit from their particular talents. I work with organisations that are also interested in this endeavor for example, as part of delegations to Europe, Korea and China organised by the Design Council, led by its head of design skills Lesley Morris, working alongside colleagues from other universities to find out how universities in those countries are preparing their design graduates for the future.
There is another question: what will be the form of the design business in the future? We discuss this subject across business, academia and the contributing organisations, and many businesses are very interested to hear our students’ ideas, not trying to mould them into existing models. Often our business associates consider it a great way to find out the ideas that the future influencers are forming.
At university design students are getting a lot more than the skills to add value at junior level to design groups in the immediate future.
Michael Goatman, Head of the Department of Industrial Design, Coventry School of Art and Design, Coventry University, Coventry CV1 5FB