Does anyone know about art foundation and degree courses?

(18 Posts)
Mitfordhons Sat 05-Mar-16 09:09:53

Dd1 wants to do an art degree, DH did one back in the last century so we know a bit about it but I'd love some advice. She will do a foundation course first, we'd like this to be near to home so she can live with us and then ideally move away for her degree somewhere. We have two art schools in our nearest town, but what happens if she doesn't get in? There's no maintenance loan for foundation so it would be very expensive for us if she has to live away from home.

Also does she wait to do the foundation before choosing a degree? I presume that makes sense as the foundation will help her decide which route she wants to take further however how much of the course will she have done before the applications have to be in?

Mitfordhons Sat 05-Mar-16 09:11:07

Oh and while I'm at it any idea about the different degree courses? She went to a big ucas fair this week and liked the sound of Glasgow, Plymouth and Farnham.

wavedancer68 Sat 05-Mar-16 12:18:38

I would suggest you look at Art College and University Degree courses and check to see which ones definitely require a Foundation Course first and those who will consider candidates directly from A-level. As Foundation Courses are applied to directly she will also be able to apply (at the same time) to 5 Colleges/Universities through UCAS. She could then decide what to do based on offers received. Regarding UCAS applications whilst on a Foundation Course - you need to ask about that at Open Days or email in.

I would suggest that you and your DD go to the end of year Foundation Shows and end of Degree Shows (May/June) - have a look at the work produced. Of course every year the students are different and produce different work, but it will give an idea of the type and standard of work. You will most probably be able to combine the visit with an Open Day. Go to the talks and find out about what they require for Portfolios as there will be some excellent advice available. Also look on line at various Art Colleges and Universities as there will be Portfolio advice on there too. Ask staff and students questions at the Open Day.

Wherever she applies she will need to be prepared to talk about her portfolio and interest/love of art at interview. The Colleges and Universities like to see work produced outside of school course work. She will need to produce this extra work during the summer holidays between lower and upper sixth as there will be very little time available during the autumn of the upper sixth - when she has to get course work done.

If she is not already doing so then start going to Galleries, Exhibitions, Art Fairs etc in your local area - or further afield. It will give her something to write about in her Personal Statement. If there is art on someone's doorstep and they are not going to look at it, then someone could wonder just how interested they really are. It isn't always just about your own art, but about appreciating others work as well.

As regards the Colleges your mentioned. They all have excellent reputations. One thing to think about is what experience your DD wants when she goes off to do her Art Degree. If she is keen on sport or wants to have the opportunity to join different clubs etc then a University may have more to offer from that side of things. Make sure you look at how the accommodation works for Art College as opposed to University. You might also want to consider how much (and for how long) support is on offer regarding careers after graduating.

BertieBotts Sat 05-Mar-16 12:29:39

From when I was doing this about 10 years ago.

The foundation courses are pretty easy to get in. I presume she has done A Levels or Scottish Highers. If not and she's post GCSE then she might want to look at one of the art-related BTEC National Diplomas as they are the equivalent of A Levels plus they cover the foundation requirement.

UCAS application process starts before Christmas, so relatively soon after she would be starting the foundation course. IIRC, the tutors on the foundation course understand that many students will be aiming for university so they can help and support with these applications. Art degrees normally require a portfolio and interview, but again she can build these up with the foundation course.

dottygamekeeper Sat 05-Mar-16 14:07:43

My DS (19) is currently doing his Foundation at our local college, and is in the process of his Uni interviews to do Interior design/Interior Architecture.

He had to submit digital portfolios for Kingston and Nottingham Trent - Nottingham offered him a place on the basis of that (plus an essay about a building which inspires him), without interview, the other unis offered after interview. He has 4 offers so far, from Falmouth, Northumbria, Nottingham Trent and Sheffield Hallam and has his final interview this week at Kingston.

Some of his friends from school went straight to Uni to do art/design degrees, but he says this year at Foundation has really helped with the leap from school to Uni, helped him develop his creative thinking and drawing skills and just matured his approach all round. He has had a lot of help from his tutors on the Foundation course to put together a very professional looking portfolio.

Our thinking was that if he stayed at home, and did the Foundation year now (the course started before his 19th birthday) there were no tuition fees and it would be too good an opportunity to miss.

To get into the Foundation course (our local college is really well respected for its Foundation, which is a University of the Arts London qualification) he had to do an interview and present his work (he took along A leve and GCSE work, and work from outside school).

As he already has his A level results his uni offers just require him to pass the Foundation (though he is hoping for a Distinction). He has A*BB at A level, with his A* in textile art, but I think the standard offer for the courses he choose was 280 to 300 UCAS points.

bojorojo Sat 05-Mar-16 20:46:19

Although my DD did go straight to her degree course with UAL, there is a lot of sense in doing a Foundation Course for many arts degrees. Primarily, it allows the student to focus on A levels without working hard on the portfolios required by degree courses. They may have different requirements! A levels can take a back seat while portfolios are produced and then the student gets behind with the A level work! There is more time to prepare the portfolio whilst on the Foundation Course and possibly better facilities and guidance too. There is more time to experiment and then choose the right degree course.

The courses can vary so do go to open days to see which ones are best. A UCAS fair is a start, but by no means accurate enough to choose the university/art school or the degree. Some Foundation Courses allow the student access to their degree courses if they pass at a certain level. They are at the same university. This may be a consideration. Lastly, is it fine art? What sort of art is she interested in?

Mitfordhons Sun 06-Mar-16 14:27:28

Thanks everyone I really appreciate your posts. We all think she should do a foundation rather than going straight to a degree course and this was more or less what she was told at the UCAS fair. I suppose I'm worried about how we'll manage if she doesn't get into a foundation course near enough to home. I'm also a little confused about the timings, for example should we go to open days for the degree courses this year or once she's on the foundation? She's in year 12 now. At the moment she's likely to do illustration, I'm not overly concerned about the preparation or portfolio side of things as we have lots of friends and family who work in art related fields who can offer advice and she's very self motivated she doesn't see it as work. In fact her other a levels just get in the way as she sees it.

wettowel Sun 06-Mar-16 21:22:52

A few universities (e.g. UEL, Cumbria) do a four year BA which has the foundation as year zero - this helps in some ways as the student is expected to be at pre-foundation stage when applying, so entry standards aren't as high, and they get full student finance for that year including maintenance for living away. OTOH it means another year of debt at student finance levels. My impressions are that it tends to be the less well-regarded art schools that offer this though - if she is keen on Glasgow/Falmouth type places then it would be better for her to do the foundation then degree route.

I would recommend doing open days this year, if she can fit it in, if only because the foundation course is quite demanding in terms of attendance, so she might not get a chance to do it next year before her UCAS application needs to go in (especially if she is considering lots of places all over the country). The final year shows are really worth visiting as well - she should do these this year (in May/June) as she will need to decide on her UCAS choices by the end of the autumn term.

bojorojo Sun 06-Mar-16 22:26:36

I think the Art College within UAL (Camberwell) offers foundation Illustration and then progression to degree. I would ask at her preferred degree universities as to what foundation courses are appropriate and if they offer one in Illustration.

My DD also had a session with a UAL portfolio adviser who gave very useful tips. He was based at her college within UAL. Also, one of the main reasons for doing a foundation is portfolio preparation. Each degree course may have different requirements and you have to submit what they want and how they want it. It is not a good idea to rely on relatives. I don't think art foundation courses are difficult to get into but choosing the right one is important. If she went to Camberwell she would probably progress directly onto their degree course. I think this is the best route, personally.

wavedancer68 Sun 06-Mar-16 23:01:12

Some art foundation courses are harder to get into than others. There is a very popular one at Kingston which receives approximately 1,800 applications for about 120 places. However, there are other very good courses within commuting distance so candidates who do not receive offers do have alternatives. Maybe if the two Art schools in your nearest town are like Kingston there will be another one within commuting distance that is easier to get into.

Lots of Art Colleges offer short summer courses of which some are aimed at the pre foundation/degree age group and can be very useful.

wavedancer68 Mon 07-Mar-16 08:50:03

Also.... It is a good idea to check out how many UCAS points the Foundation will provide upon completion. A few courses do not offer any at all - like the Royal Drawing School (an amazing course though) and your DD would be relying on her A-level grades for the next stage.

PurpleCrazyHorse Mon 07-Mar-16 09:29:18

DH, 15 years ago, did an Arts Degree in Bath. His course incorporated the foundation element into the degree (so it was a four year course, foundation year plus the 3 year degree). DH did a BTEC and was able to bypass the foundation year and just did the 3 years. Came out with a First and his final project landed him a job in London. Research which universities do good final projects and get lots of prospective employers there.

I'd definitely look at what the universities offer as if you get onto one of these four year courses, she won't need to reapply for the degree.

On a related note, DH needed a car to get to printers etc for his end of year shows and also a supply of cash for those projects. He did digital too but that still involved printing of big boards for his display space. Just a thought to bear in mind once she's in.

DH wishes he'd done illustration, it's still his passion, so good luck to your DD.

TinklyLittleLaugh Mon 07-Mar-16 20:55:00

My DD did an Art Foundation at our local sixth form college after A levels. She did toy with the idea of going to Uni to do one but decided to have another year at home. Overall she enjoyed the course and built up a great portfolio which meant she got five good offers from Unis. The one she eventually chose was unconditional which meant no pressure for her final project and first pick of the Uni accomodation.

You have pinpointed an issue which we were also baffled by; they do a foundation to try loads of stuff and choose a degree, but they actually have to do that choosing a bare 2 or three months into the foundation, madness!
This was actually the biggest issue for DD.

DD looked at universities where there was a big Art school and not just one or two courses, because she wanted the buzz of a big, cross fertilising, creative community. She also wanted to be in a big city. I think open days are key though: she had an idea in her head that she would love Goldsmiths but hated it on the visit. Similarly she only went to Camberwell because a friend dragged her along, but loved it. I think she also was put off some places at the interview stage.

Anyhow, she seems perfectly happy with her choice now.

bojorojo Mon 07-Mar-16 22:35:55

Yes, but some foundation courses are specific, Tinkly, like the one at Camberwell so not every course is trying lots of things. My DD chose her degree courses/ universities at the beginning of Y13, so not on a foundation course at all. They do have until after Christmas to apply via UCAS but it is the preparation of the portfolios that is the killer in Y13. At least a foundation buys more time. My DD did two arts A levels plus a standard academic one and her schedule was manic after Christmas!

Mitfordhons Mon 07-Mar-16 23:50:52

I think that's one of the reasons that the advice she's had is to go for a foundation is that it gives more time to get a portfolio together, but also even the Uni's all said to avoid doing a year zero. I must ask her why.

I wonder if the plan would be to go to open days at the local art schools with foundation in mind (really think she shouldn't be at home for her degree) but also go to the ones she likes for degree. Then apply for foundation locally and degree with a year zero as a backup, hmm not sure. I think I'll get in touch with her art teacher.

TinklyLittleLaugh Tue 08-Mar-16 11:39:13

Most foundations are a try out of lots of different things though, aren't they? If you do foundation at a Uni, you can still go to a different uni for your degree.

DD looked at a couple of Uni foundations with amazing facilities but was warned that many of the tutors treated foundation students as a bit of an afterthought.

bojorojo Tue 08-Mar-16 18:14:58

I think the foundation course is the way forward but you need to consider whether she wants a specific one and probably get a degree course place at the same university or a local one which is a more general foundation. Go and have a good look around but if she wants Illustration, make sure the foundation is suitable. Doing lots of ceramics for example may not be the best plan. Definitely visit the degree courses. We worked out that several did not require my DD to do a foundation because of her A levels and experience. Only one was keen for her to do a foundation despite their prospectus saying they accepted A level students directly onto the course. They wasted her time asking for a portfolio and followed it up with an interview to tell her that!

Orangeanddemons Tue 08-Mar-16 18:23:17

I did a foundation course. I see why they have a purpose if you don't know what to do, but I knew what I wanted to do, and whilst I enjoyed the year it did seem a bt of a waste of time.

I teach now, and teach A level design. My students usually go straight onto degree courses and bypass Foundation usually. It's much much cheaper to aim straight for a degree.

Any uncertainty, and I tell them to apply for degrees and foundation courses to cover all bases.

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