Deciding to study art at university? Or have you already started?
What should you consider when deciding?
All the universities try and sell themselves on employment rates, student experience and how many are graduating with Firsts or 2:1’s.
One thing you need to accept when going to study art is that you really need to ignore the employment rate part. If a university says 95% of it’s students leave uni with a job, the unemployed 5% may possibly be those studying an art subject. So, accept there is a large possibility you will leave university without a job if you want to study art
It’s frustrating I know, but the UK is still in an unemployment crisis, so no matter what you study there is still a chance you’d leave without a job. Most artists go into a freelance area. But the trick is to keep looking out for your dream job and in the mean time keep practicing.
You don’t want to go to a university where students are encouraged to work, eat and sleep. But although it may destroy some expectations, you don’t want to go to a university where you are out partying till 4 am every night for the whole year.
For course experience, you want the course, which is going to offer you the best experience.
Go out and ask art students themselves-
Truthfully, it’s ok universities announcing they are top whatever of student experience (Me and Vanessa went to York St John University, so we know all about this tagline, as they got voted 9th in student experience) But as an Artist you need to look deeper into what will be best for you.
You shouldn’t just go on the course because it as voted on some league table.
University Art Shows.
Second years and Third Years often put on shows, this is your chance to go and look at what art they are producing and also ask what their experience is/was like. They won’t be paid to give you some, “Perfect,” Sounding answer and no one is quoting numbers or picking out the best line of what they have said.
Going along to these shows will shows will show you what type of art the course studies (especially in the Degree show). If the degree show is exhibiting mostly sculpture, then I would guess the course focuses on sculpture, same with courses such as theatre.
Look out for common relations in the shows, if some subject area or medium comes up a lot. If the exhibition is advertised as a sculpture/performance art or romance/horror show, then obviously look further into the course.
UCAS will have loads of universities that will have courses in art, each will be different. Just because, “Fine Art,” Comes up a lot doesn’t mean every university teaches the same course
These are going to be working with you for three years. Now along with asking students, about them you need to do research. Ask the tutors themselves at interviews or open days, if that fails there is always my favorite answer- Google. I’m not saying look at their lives history. As an artist you need to find a tutor who will at least be able to give you some tips on your artwork, to help it grow- as most tutors will be practicing artists themselves. If you like Performance Art but are going to a university where the tutors are associated with drawing/painting. There may be some difficulties. The last thing you need is to feel like you are lagging behind because your interest lies in a different area.
You do need to consider, there will be at least one module you probably won’t like, Unless, you do find the perfect course
The course isn’t moulded to what you want it to be.
You can’t go into a course expecting it all to be drawing, because that’s all you want to do. Really, it was annoying when a woman at the degree show openly turned up her nose at the art course at York St John University because it isn’t 100% what she wanted. University is a learning environment, so, do be prepared to learn things, you might not like it but there are others in the class who will love it and they are paying for the same course too.
Some courses will change every year so it might be worth while asking what the course entails- Different modules will require different themed results. It’s ok to hear about one module and feel you won’t like it but tutors and the other students you are with will help you though it to get a decent result and you never know you might find another area you love.
Again, this isn’t something they can put on paper. They can list what they have- spacious studio’s, lots of digital stuff and a woodwork shop. Sometimes getting a look around the studios isn’t possible so, it might be worth going to multiple open days or asking if you get an interview to look around.
These are just a few things that will make up your student experience; it’s these things you probably should look into to decide if you and your practice will fit into the university and if you will enjoy it. University, isn’t just partying, the part you are now paying over £9000 a year for is the course. So, check that the course and the university meet your needs. Most cases they will want you to go to your university, so they won’t mind you asking questions. It’s these sorts of things along with enthusiasm and motivation that will help you get a good grade.