Word is we can expect a bit of tub-thumping against the education cuts when D&AD president Simon ‘Sanky’ Sankarayya and chief executive Tim O’Kennedy take to the stage at London’s HAC Club this week to dole out this year’s Yellow (and Black) Pencils. The determined duo are reportedly taking the opportunity to rail against Government shifts at the awards – the first at which student winners will also be present.
Always a champion of excellence, D&AD is developing that role into that of campaigner – and where better to start than with its own constituents. The new White Pencil to ‘award the power of creative communications to effect change for good’ won’t be presented until next year, but its introduction shows a new zeal not just for honouring great work, but for making a difference through design and advertising too.
Education, meanwhile, is at D&AD’s heart, not just the sterling work it does with colleges, but in its professional development programmes and President’s Lectures too. It makes absolute sense for it to be raising its voice as the changes take hold – and it’s handy that its chairman, Dick Powell, also sits on the cross-parliamentary Design Commission’s steering group on education.
D&AD isn’t the only design player carrying the torch for education. We were delighted to report in Design Week last week that consultancy Further is sponsoring an award for students on the Interactions MA course at London’s Royal College of Art . Interestingly, Further’s creative director and managing partner James Beveridge was a partner at The Partners some ten years ago and that consultancy established a generous bursary in the early 1990s in honour of Nick Wurr, a partner who tragically died.
The RCA isn’t the only institution that has benefited from the generosity of its alumni though. Consultancies such as Attik have long supported their local colleges or alma mater by getting directly involved, while scores of others ‘give a bit back’ by offering internships or judging various student prize schemes.
We have reached a point though where direct intervention by practitioners in design education is not just desirable, but vital if the best talent is to continue to thrive and the design community gets the graduates it needs to sustain a future.
The financial pressures on colleges have been such that one eminent designer resigned a teaching position at a top college this academic year on the grounds the (largely overseas) intake on to an MA course didn’t have the skills you’d expect of a BA graduate. Now, with student fees set to rise, we may see more of this unless we as an industry take action now.
If you’re doing anything off your own bat to help colleges and graduates, please let us know. We’d love to spread the word to raise awareness of the problem – and positive solutions.