APDIG and CHEAD (the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design) held an exclusive roundtable event in the House of Lords on Thursday 24th November, discussing how the creative sector can respond to the pressures and opportunity that Brexit presents.
Hosted by APDIG’s Co-Chair, Baroness Whitaker, senior academics and heads of some of the UK’s leading design schools heard from CHEAD’s Chair, Professor Anita Taylor and from Professor Robert Mull on how the sector can interact with parliamentarians and policy makers as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.
In a frank but upbeat assessment of the tremendous depth and breadth of talent and innovation within the design education sector, Professor Taylor outlined how Britain’s design and creative arts schools work alongside all areas of the economy. Highlighting projects ranging from electric and autonomous vehicles to the built environment, Professor Taylor noted how the sector continues to be a world leader for design education, delivering real and tangible benefits across the country. Brexit, however, has already begun to have a negative impact for colleges and universities, with foreign staff and students deferring taking up places on courses and research positions owing to the current uncertainty regarding the post-Brexit visa regime and working rights. Professor Taylor was adamant in calling for the Government to treat higher and further education seriously in negotiations with the European Community to alleviate these fears.
"EU nationals account for 16% of all staff at our design and creative arts institutions." – Anita Talyor
Professor Robert Mull spoke about how universities and colleges could use Brexit as a means to reinvent themselves in a new economic order. Referring to the ambiguity over Britain’s role in developing the next round of EU research funding following the end of the current Horizon 2020 round, Professor Mull said that there was an urgent need for institutions to engage directly with the Government to make the case for a well-developed new round of R&D funding that recognised the vital role played by the arts and creative subjects within the British economy. He also added that there was a duty for the sector to make an effective and passionate case for the social benefits of creative education, as well as the economic value.
"We need to add "A" to STEM to create STEAM, A for art and A for architecture!" – Robert Mull
The panel then responded to an extensive and detailed range of questions from the audience, which consisted of over thirty-five APDIG and CHEAD members as well as representatives from the design press and other organisations, including the Creative Industries Federation. All members were adamant about the need to engage directly with Ministers and other senior politicians to ensure that Britain’s creative education institutions are represented at the highest level in the Brexit negotiations. CHEAD and APDIG are already planning the next steps in taking this campaign forward, including formulating a Brexit Design Education Manifesto. More information will be given in early 2017.
CHEAD have also written in full about the event here.
This follows a number of high level engagements by APDIG and CHEAD, including responses to calls of evidence issed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Education Select Committees, as well as a submission with the Design Business Association to HM Treasury ahead of the recent Autumn Statement.