#loveHE: 'As I have a better understanding, I have more respect for others' work'

Reflecting on what he gained from university, recording artist Tinchy Stryder recommends the experience to young people, in spite of tuition fees

March 18, 2010

When I decided that I wanted to go to university, I decided to study digital arts and moving image because of what I do with music. I was always interested in what went on at video shoots - with the director saying "I want this lighting" and things like that - and I just wanted to be aware of what that was all about.

A lot of people have different university lives where you stay on campus. I didn't really stay on campus; I was back and forth because it wasn't very far from where I was living. Music's my main thing, so I needed somewhere to stay where I could do my music as well as my uni work. It was interesting, though, because even if you don't live on campus you learn a lot of things about how people work and how people's visions and people's different ideas come together. At university, you get a lot of different people from different backgrounds and it's interesting to meet them. Everyone's got their own path, but a lot of the people at university went for the lifestyle, and it was exciting meeting new people and learning new things. I may not have been on campus, but there was still our own building where we could go and meet other students who weren't on our course. It was a cool experience.

The skills I learned at university mean that I now have more control as an established artist. It makes me more aware of how things work in the business, and I know the process of things. It's also made me aware of the hours that other people put into your work. For example, when you shoot a music video, it goes through different stages where the director may be doing one thing, the cameraman something else, and then it goes to the editing stage; so there's a lot of effort that goes in that we don't always see.

The tutors I had were all really caught up in their subjects. They didn't just concentrate on teaching us, they also had their own projects going on, too, which meant they really knew what they were talking about. Going to university and learning about how these things work made me respect the work other people do a bit more because I have a better understanding.

I think the whole thing about student fees and student numbers at the moment is unfair on potential uni students. If there are people who are like me - who have something they want to go and do but may be thinking of university first - setting that extra barrier in the way will just make it seem more of a struggle and could be off-putting.

On the other hand, if there's something you want to do, there's always a way to do it - and that goes for studying and getting your degree, too. Finance can be tough, but there are loans and grants. And once you've got your degree, I know it may be tough to get a job in the field you want, but it's a better step forward.

A lot of things depend on money, but the whole experience of going to university, and the knowledge you gain - everything about it is worth it. I believe that if you're coming out of college and you've got a vision of where you want to end up, then it's worth taking the risk. At the moment, getting a job, even with a degree, may be difficult, but university will be worth it. Sometimes you have to lose out at the start to gain at the end.

Music has always been my first thing, and my university experience was a bonus. If things had started to take off for me in my first year, then I would have dropped out; but luckily my music didn't really impact on my course until the last year. It was tough, but not finishing was not an option. Going in and gaining the knowledge was the main thing for me, and I was lucky that I had the time to do that at the start of my career.

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