Arts University to offer star masterclasses

It sounds like an international Who's Who of the celebrity world: Stella McCartney, Alan Rickman, Alexander McQueen, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth. In fact it is a small snapshot of the alumni of five media and art colleges that have merged to form the new University of the Arts, London, which will be officially opened next Tuesday.

It will be the first UK university devoted to the arts; a move that is expected to make it easier for it to market itself on the world stage. As a first step, the university is inviting its alumni to give master-classes to the students of today.

According to Sir Michael Bichard, rector of the new university and a former permanent secretary at the Department for Education and Skills, the change of name has rung bells and impressed the 2,000 students of the five colleges as well as their former students.

"They are saying, 'Can we come back and give master-classes for the colleges?' and 'Can we come back and teach a course?'" he said. Those who have already agreed to do so include the performance artists Gilbert and George; Quentin Blake, who provided the illustrations for Roald Dahl's books; John Bird, founder of The Big Issue ; and Matthew Collings, the TV arts presenter.

The actors Simon Callow and Kwame Kwei-Armah have also agreed to deliver welcoming addresses to students at Tuesday's opening ceremony.

For Sir Michael, the official opening is the climax of a campaign to secure centre stage for the creative industries. "We always hear how important science and technology are for British industry and we hear little about art and design; but they are central to the British economy," he said.

"I think having a university for the arts makes a statement about how important the creative industries are for the UK. It is growing in importance; second only behind financial services for securing revenue for the UK. But people still talk about it as if it is a bit flaky and not something to invest in."

Figures compiled by the university show that Britain's creative industries employ 1.95 million people and bring in £77bn a year.

Sir Michael acknowledges that the main benefit of the union will be to give the university's sales people a brand name they can market internationally. "They are absolutely delighted," he said.

Before this week's opening, the five colleges were known as the London Institute. They are Camberwell College of Arts; Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design; Chelsea College of Art and Design; London College of Communication and London College of Fashion. "Some people thought it was an old people's home rather than a world-class higher education institution," said Sir Michael.

In the next few months the university will consider whether to follow in the footsteps of Nottingham University and open campuses abroad. As revealed by The Independent last month, Nottingham has just opened one in China. Links are already being developed with overseas institutions.

"It will be an important decision that we will have to make over the next few months; whether we want to be a solely London based institution or open up one or two campuses elsewhere," Sir Michael said. "It would be sensible if London becomes politically less attractive or the cost of living here is considered too expensive."

The colleges have attracted a growing number of international students in the past few years. Their numbers have been increasing by about 10 per cent a year and now stand at about 25 per cent of the total intake of 15,000. Sir Michael said he expected that figure to continue to rise.

Another priority for the new university will be to strengthen its provision of courses in the performing arts. Sir Michael said he expected to reach agreement with "a major dance institution" to bring it into the new university soon, one of the areas that it does not cover at present.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is a small friendly village prim...

Recruitment Genius: Student Support Assistants - Part Time & Full Time

£14600 - £17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are passionate about sup...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore