As a principal in a design practice, and with 15 years as a college lecturer and head of department behind me, I share the frustration expressed by Vuyo Fazakerley (DW, Letters 30 May).
For the past ten years, thousands of students have been enticed into an art education system that bears no relationship to the system of the Sixties and Seventies which trained today’s senior managers of the design professions. Throughout the Eighties, part-time teaching hours were cut and student numbers increased.
In 1984 staff: student ratios at Camberwell and Chelsea College’s were less than 5:1. We now have targets of 25:1. At the same time taught hours have decreased from 25 per week to ten per week. Thus, more students are being taught less!
We are in industries which are skill-based and those skills must be developed through practise alive to criticism. It is not enough for a graduate to be very intelligent or computer-literate. They must also be visually educated and able to express themselves in a visual language.
In Mr Fazakerley’s parlance, we have produced players who may have the work rate but not the skills. The teamwork may be good, but the flair and intuition are missing. We must reaffirm the importance of the portfolio, the foundation experience or its equivalent and decrease numbers or increase staffing so that the studio experience becomes the learning heart of our classes.