Designers should spare some time for students

With reference to graduates and education (DW 15 June), having played devil’s advocate, perhaps it’s time for me to come clean. It isn’t always the graduate’s fault – the real question is how well is education preparing them for the workplace, and how big a role should the design professions play? What is the role of design education? Is it about the whole experience or purely to produce graduates for the workplace? Or both? Can design practitioners play a bigger role in working with graduates and education?

I can’t answer these questions and would like to see a wider debate and greater interaction between the parties. I also ask that designers and consultancies give something back to design courses and undergraduates. I know a lot of people do, but perhaps more of us could find an odd half hour to give the benefit of our experience to students, look at their portfolios and prepare them for the big, bad world of commercial design? At least try to reply to professional (students take note) applications.

On the other hand, perhaps education could be more pro-active in building greater links with design professionals.

How about an initiative where, one week in the year, probably before Easter, consultancies could hold open evenings for undergraduates on local design courses to come and see what they do? Perhaps one of the plethora of design organisations could take the initiative and instigate such an event? Go on, give your time to an undergraduate. Why not be a mentor? Or perhaps the design courses could arrange their own ‘meet the professionals’ evenings?

Over 30 years ago, a certain Mrs Thatcher, then Education Minister, cut our college budgets by over 60 per cent and we lost our visiting lecturers. Students then vowed to try to put something back if they ever made it in the profession. Altruistic perhaps, but it doesn’t take a great deal. Let’s not forget, most of us were graduates at some time.

Geoff Gradwell, Gradwell Corporate Design, Preston, PR2 1ZS

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