Voxpop – do you think a design degree is worth £9000 a year?

With university fees set to hit up to £9000 a year next year, new figures show that applications to art and design courses for 2012 have dropped by more than a quarter.

Do you think a design degree is worth £9000 a year and would you have studied design if you had had to pay this?


‘Wisdom has it that “A great education is worth its weight in gold” so I thought I’d test the theory. With a quick online search I discovered that for £9000 (a year’s worth of degree) you can buy a 250g gold bar. Not bad. Maybe I chose the wrong career, but why have gold sitting somewhere where it will never shine? Give it to a designer and there’s the potential to turn it into something beautiful, something priceless. The metaphor might be tangential but the point is that it is not what the education costs, but what you do with it that counts, Put the effort in and you will reap the rewards. Would I have studied design if I had to pay these fees? Of course, I wouldn’t think twice about it. I have two boys at art college at the moment so I put the same question to them. Education or a lump of gold? They both told me to stick my gold somewhere it’ll never shine.’

Greg Quinton, creative partner at The Partners


‘What is a passion worth? If you can put a price on it then I guess it’s not your unbridled, hell-for-leather, take-my-overdraft-and-be-damned. The reduction in numbers I hope will ease the mid-term pressure on the current students finding work. In the long term all courses and all students are going to face the dilemma of “pay to play”.’

Simon Waterfall, founder, Fray


‘Born in Wales I was not able to get a grant to go to art college in England. I had to fund my own tuition and accommodation. In London that is expensive. Admittedly the fees were not £9000 but pro-rata, costly. It made me value every minute of tuition and I genuinely believe it was worth it. Design is a vocation, not a vacation, and although £9000 is harsh it will be derisive. Potentially prohibitive to genuine young talent, my worry is that valuable places will be filled by lowering creative standards and by those who are wealthy. I do believe that if you pay for your education you will value it, but there has to be more investment into the arts in the UK for us not to be overtaken by the great talent of South America, India and China.’

Glenn Tutssel, executive creative director, The Brand Union


‘I think a lot of people will be thinking higher fees will mean fewer, more committed graduates in an already overcrowded industry. Time will tell, but I worry that this is over-simplifying the issue. The rise in fees will be also prove prohibitive to some students, and the more privileged end of the spectrum won’t be put off – adding to the top-heavy middle-class design demographic. Diversity can only be a good thing for the design industry, and these fees aren’t helping. Would I have still studied design if these fees had been in place? Yes. I was always very single-minded about being a designer… perhaps because its all I can do!’

Adam Giles, creative director, Interabang

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  • Angela Turner November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Im currently studying at the University of London doing a BA Top up in Interior Design and Architecture.
    I think for people who come from a very poor background with all the help provided are still reluctant to plough ahead as its a big commitment for them to have such financial burden. however i still believe i would continue with studying design as its become a part of my thought process.

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