Cornwall has long attracted generations of painters and Falmouth University takes its origins from the Falmouth School of Art, opened in 1902, which is still located in the town’s original Woodlane Campus. This offers traditional studio-based courses in fine art, graphics and illustration, while the separate Institute of Photography takes advantage of the dramatic coastal setting to offer Europe’s first BA in marine and natural history photography, including an underwater option.
Though Falmouth has greatly expanded beyond its art school roots and acquired full university status in 2012, it still has no plans to become a “general” university and defines itself as a specialist multi-arts institution. Students can now choose between courses in most creative fields: architecture and design; communications and journalism; fashion and textiles; film and television; and music and theatre arts. Most are based at the larger out-of-town Penryn Campus, shared with the University of Exeter and largely designed to boost hitherto limited higher educational provision within Cornwall.
More unusual is the very vocationally focussed Games Academy, where immersive courses give students coached largely by industry professionals the opportunity to work in teams and develop the full range of talents required by commercial games developers.
Since a large proportion of graduates want to remain in the area, Falmouth puts a strong stress on entrepreneurship, meaning that students don’t merely acquire specialist skills in communications or design but the ability to set up their own creative companies and so make a contribution to the comparatively sluggish local economy. The same philosophy animates the Falmouth Business School, which makes every effort to break down barriers between education and the real world of business, enabling many of its graduates to move straight from highly experiential courses to starting their own companies.