Fine Art & Design in Education: A Top Course

HKU Fine Art & Design in Education is a top course, according to the Study Choice Guide 2023. Students and lecturers explain what makes their programme so special.

Fine Art & Design in Education: A Top Course

With a score of 80 out of 100, HKU has the third-best course for training teachers in Fine Art and Design. Lecturer Tamar Clasquin is proud and happy with this acknowledgement, but it changes little about how the team of lecturers regard their course. ‘I already had the idea we were doing well’, she laughs. ‘But still, it’s nice to get this confirmation. Especially because it shows that students are happy and satisfied with the choices we make.’ Those students especially praise the atmosphere in the classes and ateliers and the quality of their lecturers.

Small-scale and personal

Student Melfi van den Broek couldn’t decide between an arts education or a VWO studies (the highest level of Dutch secondary education) until her last days of high school. Until she walked in to HKU’s Pastoe Fabriek and made her choice. ‘I went to the open days of all the arts programmes and listened to my feelings. HKU Fine Art felt nice right away. I had some talks with lecturers and students that felt very personal. That first impression seemed correct.

‘All my expectations came true. Throughout my studies, the guidance I received was always very personal, from questions about internships to the feedback on my visual art development.’

Student Salihanur Akpınar shares this same feeling. ‘There is little hierarchy between students and lecturers and lots of interaction and exchange. And not just about “we’re making art”, but also about “we’re connecting people”. The course stimulates the connection of various cultures and faces.” In result, it’s easier to work together and you feel that you can be yourself.’

Lecturer Tamar adds that the strength of the course also lies in its small scale and personal approach. ‘We try to be accessible as lecturers. It’s why we know all our students, and vice versa

The creator as driving force

The Fine Art and Design in Education trains you to become a teacher, but also turns you into a full-fledged artist. ‘Our motto is: “the creator as driving force”, Tamar explains. ‘When you know the visual process from the inside, you can be a better guide in that process for others as well.’

Student Salihanur Akpınar also recognises this principle in the team of lecturers. ‘Our lecturers are very diverse. They are all practicing artists, so they understand what’s going on in their field. This makes the classes exciting. There are lecturers from many disciplines, and even within one discipline they can vary a lot.’ Melfi adds: ‘There never is only one truth. They teach from their own experiences and personal beliefs, not just from a textbook. You can take from it what’s relevant for you personally.’

The educational aspect also gets lots of attention. Tamar: ‘Developing your teaching skills is of course a main focus. As with visual artistry, it is a personal process. Teaching a class is like looking in a mirror. Our students get to know yourself throughout the four years of study and can properly develop their own style of creating and teaching. The aim is to let the role of teacher and artist blend together; that the boundary between creating art and teaching dissapears.’

Improvement point

One improvement point that the Study Choice Guide 2023 mentioned, was a better alignment with the professional practice. Melfi: ‘I understand why that was mentioned. Personally, I’ve always chosen internships at places where I would actually want to work. But if you show less initiative, the alignment can be harder. On the other hand, there’s always a place where you can go to.’ Salihanur: ‘I heard from the second and third-year students that some progress has been made. They can do internship at various educational levels now.’

Tamar is pleased with the feedback. ’You always have to deal with the big difference between speaking about the practice and the actual practice itself. Sometimes you teach about a subject and think you taught them something, yet when they return from their internship they say: “I learned so much more!” That constantly makes me realise how the practice throws you into the deep end. You learn lots of things in short time.

The Study Choice Guide, or ‘Keuzegids’ is an independent guide for choosing educational programmes. They score are based in part on the results of the National Student Survey (NSE). Next NSE will start in January 2023.