Jobwatch: Midlands Masterstroke

June 18, 2004

The retirement of the 1960s boom-years art and design academics is leading Nottingham Trent to recruit creatively by offering jobs with reduced levels of administration. Chris Johnston reports

A quiet revolution is under way in art and design in British higher education, according to Simon Lewis, head of Nottingham Trent University's School of Art and Design and Built Environment.

The significant expansion of the discipline in the 1960s saw a large number of academics enter the sector, but many are now reaching retirement age, he says.

It means the drive is on to recruit a new generation of art and design talent into universities, and Nottingham Trent, with one of the country's biggest schools, is leading the way.

An advertisement, published in last week's Times Higher , sees the university seeking to fill 13 posts at lecturer/senior lecturerlevel in interior architecture and design, international fashion business, fashion marketing and communication, fine art, photography, graphic design and contextual studies.

Professor Lewis says: "We are looking for a lot of new blood."

Art and design schools such as Nottingham Trent's traditionally rely on industry practitioners teaching part time. Professor Lewis says the challenge is convincing them to take on the more senior full-time roles that come with a significant administrative burden.

But he says: "There is not the attraction that there once was when art schools were seen as a good lifestyle choice - things have now changed."

Those in charge at Nottingham Trent also understand that talented teachers who are great at inspiring students do not always make good administrators.

And, to that end, steps have been taken to employ more specialist administrators to deal with the red tape.

While the posts advertised are in existing areas of provision, new ones are being created to reflect student demand, Professor Lewis says. They include multimedia and a BSc in product design, rather than a BA, to reflect an extension of the subject area into engineering.

All staff are expected to be active in research and/or practice.

The university's School of Art and Design dates from 1843 and has more than 3,000 students and 100 academic staff. The school offers 19 degree programmes.

Most undergraduates enter having completed foundation qualifications at college.

Professor Lewis says that this is because art and design is still not sufficiently well developed at secondary school level for most students to know what area they want to specialise in.

He says: "Schools are getting better and the advent of fees could change things more quickly than we expect, so we have to be prepared for that."

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