Archive for June 28th, 2009

A logical response to the "too many design students" argument

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

One of the common complaints that crops up every now and then from “industry” is that there are too many design students. In fact I had a go at Ken Garland about 18 months ago after he got up at a panel I was on and said exactly that – basically his argument was that design was a “special” craft that only an elite few should be allowed to pursue which, as I told him then, is a bloody stupid thing to say. I’m not one for hero worship, me.

But the usual motivation for complaining about the number of design students is either that it must in some way mean the overall quality is rubbish (oh really? Funny how that argument never gets trotted out when we call for more doctors, or teachers, or policemen. Or, indeed, plumbers), or that it’s unfair on students and/or employers because we’re training people the industry just can’t absorb. (In fact, the complainers are almost always employers* who, let’s face it, couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about students or graduates because if they did, they’d pay them decent salaries and give them decent jobs instead of expecting them to work for nothing until a “vacancy” arises).

Now of course the correct response to this argument is that education isn’t about training – that a good undergraduate education in design produces… graduates, not designers. Same as a degree in history produces graduates, not historians. And so on.

But for some reason that argument just butters no parsnips with some people so here’s a better argument. It’s perfect because it’s beautifully logical.

If you have a vacancy in your company, what would you rather have? A choice of one candidate, or the pick of ten?

Well there you go, then.

*What’s worse is when students say there should be a limit on the number of students. Nothing gets my wick up more than that. Well, almost nothing.