As tutors to our final year Product Design students, we could not fail to take notice of the headline article in the Badger of 23rd February. Although we are proud that they spoke up about their concerns we feel compelled to set the record straight on a few points.

The article contains a number of factual errors. Two that I would like to draw your attention to are:

  1. the contribution of the Design Show to the final degree mark is not 50% (it is around 25%) and
  2. the purpose of the fund raising events are not to pay for a substitute venue, they are (as they were the previous year and the one before that, etc.) to pay for consumable materials used in putting on the exhibition.

Over the last few years, the Product Design degree programme has benefited from new funds, new tutors and new courses. This has been reflected in an overall improvement in the quality of our student’s work. The balance of the degree has also changed; from one that was mostly technical with computer-based work, to one that is now more creative, with practical skills and user based projects. One consequence of this is that exhibitions have become a common form of assessment mode throughout the three years of the degree programme. In fact, it would be true to say that the success of the course has outpaced the University’s capacity to house it. We therefore welcome an opportunity to work with senior management to accommodate these needs of the Product Design degree programme.

InQbate is not a general purpose exhibition space but a designated Centre of Excellence for creativity in teaching and learning. So, the simple requirement of wanting to house an exhibition there does not guarantee access to the space – there is a need to demonstrate a substantial element of creativity in teaching and learning or the teaching and learning of creativity. The Design Show has been held in InQbate for the previous three years. But last year with the expansion of student numbers it became apparent that a limit had been reached in terms of the space available and the health and safety requirements. This year our plan is to split the Design Show over two venues, to take advantage of what each has to offer. The move to locate the public view of the show to the centre of Brighton is not a consolation prize but innovative and beneficial to both the University and our students. This exhibition space in the town centre is more appropriate to the needs of the public view of the Design Show than anything currently available on the campus. It is conveniently located for inviting potential local employers, prospective new students and local dignitaries. This means exposure for Sussex, palpable engagement with the city and the potential job opportunities for our graduates.

For the first time, the University has assembled a team of advisors from the marketing division to give our Product Design students expert assistance. The students have done an excellent job of fundraising additional cash to add to the university’s contribution and this will help ensure an amazing show this year. We expect their work to surpass the very high standards of the previous years and to this end we are hoping to take their work into the heart of Brighton, a leading creative city. The show will be packed to the rafters with potential employers and we have great hopes for the students and their show and I know you will support them too.

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