Design colleges need more partners in industry

Your comments on the role of colleges (Comment, DW 7 May) abound with confusion and misconception about the primary function of colleges and universities as providers.

We are not and never have been employment agencies, but we are in the fiercely competitive business of education. I agree that visually literate graduates do often fare much better in employment. Their creative skills, nurtured by the colleges, prepare them better for the outside world.

Education operates against a background of the Dearing Report, with its insistence on wider access, life-long learning and greater part-time provision. Governments urge us to increase provision and productivity, to undertake research, all against a background of diminishing resources. It is not our function to pigeonhole students, but rather to equip them with the skills necessary to adapt to the constantly changing employment arena.

The design profession is particularly vulnerable and continues to react to market forces. If honesty is in question, look at the ever increasing numbers of freelance designers.

The real answer lies in much closer professional/educational collaboration and professional commitment to education. Then both sides would be better informed through proactivity rather than the situation that exists at present.

Bill Barr

Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design

University of Dundee

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