University Tips Blog
Image of a student with creative thoughts whilst thinking about their university decisions
A headshot image of the author, Jasminne Gwalter

by Jasminne Gwalter

Student Recruitment and Enquiries Operations Coordinator at Arts University Plymouth

posted on 17 Apr '23

A guide to creative courses at university - why there is still a place for creative learning

It is no secret that creative learning and subjects in our schools and colleges have sharply declined in recent years. However, the creative industries in the UK are booming, estimated to be worth around £115.9 billion and accounting for 5.9% of the UK economy. In fact, Oxford Economics predict that with the right investment, the UK’s creative industries will recover from the pandemic faster than the UK economy as a whole, growing by over 26% by 2025 and creating 300,000 new jobs.

This begs the question - why are we not making it a priority in mainstream education to encourage our students to engage in creative thinking and making?

Not every student favours Art over PE, but the transferable skills that students pick up from their creative subjects will set them up to succeed in a variety of different career paths and support their professional development and general well-being in many ways. Art, design and media are a motor for economic growth and job creation, but just as importantly, creativity drives innovation and makes communities in all parts of the UK happier, healthier places for us to live in. The British Journal of Clinical Psychology published a study which demonstrates when people are involved in arts-oriented activities, they see a boost in positive emotions and a reduction in negative emotions - bringing about greater overall happiness.

The ability to think critically, some would say, is as important as Maths and English. Having the ability to ask ‘why?’ as well as ‘how?’ and to analyse the subject matter in order to form a clear judgement and continue to make informed decisions as well as demonstrate problem- solving capabilities. These kinds of skills can give students the confidence to approach education, work and live independently and with resilience.

Hands-on subjects are a way of learning by doing, allowing students who thrive in these environments to feel more comfortable in their abilities. Practical subjects allow students to explore, developing their skills and practice and take this confidence forward to apply to their core subjects, as well as improving their concentration. This provides a platform for students to feel prepared when taking part in GCSE qualifications, A-Levels, or any other more vocational type of subject.

Universities can support you with creative workshops

Often our schools and colleges have their hands tied when it comes to providing a way for all students to access creative subjects for their GCSEs or A-levels. However, many universities offer a variety of free masterclass or practical workshops to help engage students in creative study whilst also exploring higher education. This can be a wonderful way to allow students to get a feel for what it might be like to study a creative subject at university, whilst giving students the opportunity to engage in a new activity and skill, build their confidence and professional and personal relationships with their peers and beyond.

Through creativity, students develop ability as natural problem solvers, preparing them for further study and employment, and equipping them with the skills that will be needed to tackle the problems of the future. Creative learning is needed in our schools, colleges and universities now more than ever.

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