Cat visits Derby University
We got up hellishly early (6.30 on a Saturday! Can you believe it?) so that we could get to Derby early enough to make the talk about the course Cat’s interested in at 11am. As it turned out, it was a wise decision as the roads were clear, and a cloudless sky promised that the day would quickly become uncomfortably hot for driving.
For now though, it remained pleasantly cool. An hour and fifty minutes of amusing chat, and we arrived at the University, easily found near the A38. A young gentleman directed us into the car park with a wildly camp gesture, and we wandered across to the modern buildings, half-covered with scaffolding.
Inside, the “atrium” was beginning to fill up, but we registered quickly thanks to (a) bringing the confirmation letter with us and (b) Cat’s skillful queue jumping.Just inside was a desk full of goodies – yay! We grabbed bags and badges and car stickers and lollies and pens… no wait! The pens, somewhat weirdly, are mostly a plastic tank for a bubble-blowing solution. Also, they are leaky. Whoops! Very leaky. Put them back.
The introductory talk was interesting, and explained the scaffolding – there is currently £75m worth of new facilities being built for next year. Derby University is a Teaching University, rather than a Research institution, and provides vocational training. That is, the teaching is always geared towards finding a job. Other points included –
- Students work in small study groups.
- There is a Family Programme for parents.
- A Student Employment Agency provides vetted part-time work.
- There is a bursary of £520 pa for our income bracket.
- The Art & Design Faculty is based in a separate building on Markeaton Street.
- There’s a free shuttle bus between all sites.
Out we go, and straight onto a bus down to Markeaton Street – another modern building not ten minutes walk away. The inside was clean and white with no decoration – perhaps surprising for an artistic institution. We sat down in a lecture theatre for the Art & Design talk by a woman whose name I missed, but whom we later dubbed (sarcastically) Mrs. Interesting.
Her Powerpoint slides were (again surprisingly, for someone saying they were an artist) abysmally boring, being plain text lists in dry language. Her voice and tone, and the content of her speech (as much as we could make out above the sound of yawning) were also tedious in the extreme. See how fascinated Cat looks in the photo on the right. (And no, its not a fag, its a lolly stick). However, I caught these bullet points-
- They have a Year Zero Foundation, which is NOT a “foundation course”, and which we would have to pay for.
- There is a lot of cross-course interaction.
- They also run an MDes, a four year course leading directly to a Masters degree.
- Students share common spaces, and exchange ideas.
- They want passionate & committed students, who “Dare to be Different”
- Acceptance is (as usual) by interview with portfolio, which can be in many forms (including electronic)
- Prospective students should show commitment and passion.
- Students make a wide circle of friends and contacts for the future.
Here we separated off into subject-specific talks, and ours (Visual Communications – Illustration) was given by – oh no. Mrs. Interesting again. Ah well. This time she was more animated, and I managed to glean some information –
- Students are entered for national competitions
- Students are given work to do on live briefs for real clients.
- The first year is common with Graphic Design and Animation students.
- Second and Third year more specialised, plus visits to London and Europe.
- Drawing and Storytelling are important.
- Students have desk space in a studio and work in company with others.
Cat brightened up considerably when she saw the boy who was to give us a tour of the building. She deemed that he was “hot” (see picture above, where Cat has absolutely no idea what Hot Guy is telling us). He showed us computer rooms full of iMacs (photo below – note the music keyboards attached to each machine), photography studios, and a room where students could go to borrow Apple laptops, cameras etc. free of charge. And yet it still nagged me that there was no artwork on display anywhere in the building. Just those ubiquitous bare white walls. Perhaps that was the influence of the Head of Art, Mrs. Interesting, which would fit in with her minimalist design for Powerpoint.We decided to walk back to the Kedleston Road site, which took about ten minutes during which we passed the most delightful park, or as Cat put it “a big-ass park with a little-ass railway”, for a miniature railway, complete with miniature diesel engine and rideable carriages, ran all around the perimeter. There was also a boating lake which looked very tempting.We ate in the café (good food), then took another bus to one of the Halls of Residence – Peak House (see right). The rooms were fine and adequate; there were five to a flat, and a common room for each building. The laundry room featured a vending machine dispensing four products – Persil washing powder, Durex condoms, Caffeine Pills, and some tablets called Golden Root (“You’ll love it and so will she”). Each room had free broadband. There was a boys school across the street that “sometimes might get a little noisy”. Cat found a phone with huge keys in one of the drawers.
And that was that. Cat decided that, all things being considered, and adding a point for the groovy park, that she was quite impressed. So, 8/10 for Derby University. The day was pretty hot by now, so Cat adjusted her dress accordingly for the drive home, which we brightened considerably by motoring through the Peaks instead of the motorway – and she looked so cool that I had to follow her example –