Bognor Regis Creative Digital Hub | New Design School launches in Bognor Regis
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New Design School launches in Bognor Regis

While we’re in the planning and development stages of the Bognor Regis Creative Community Hub, we thought it would be a good idea to run a series of short interviews with local businesses. Hearing that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive as kicking is always inspirational and it will also help build our understanding of the creative community’ in and around Bognor Regis and how the Hub can best support it.

We heard on the grapevine that the Strohacker Design School is launching January 2017 at Chichester University’s Bognor Regis campus. It’s big news in the design community, so we thought now would be as good a time as any to ask founder, Bill Strohacker, some questions:

Q: How did the idea for the new design school come about?

I’ve worked in design for over 25 years for publishers, agencies and major brands, but it was my experience of teaching design at Northbrook College where the idea started to develop. I love teaching, but most college and university degree courses are structured to meet the college’s requirements – it’s not often that the needs of an employer are included on the syllabus. Consequently, when students graduate, they rarely have any experience or understanding of what it’s like to work in a design studio and on a creative brief that needs to be realised as part of a production schedule.

The idea to set up an independent design college is something I’ve been thinking about for around five years, and I’ve researched the idea with over 100 design agencies by asking them what they look for when they recruit a new designer. The design school offers a different approach that aims to provide its students with a hands-on vocational experience and an alternative route into getting a job in the design industry.

Q: Tell us about the course: how will it work, how many students, what fees etc?

In January, we’ll be launching two graphic design courses: a three-month full-time course and a nine-month part-time course. There will be a maximum of 10 places available on each course and students will work in small groups from 9am-5pm, five days a week on the full-time course, or two evenings a week on the part-time course.

The course is structured around 8-9 modules, with a project within each module, and students will work in a design studio environment (classroom culture is out!) on ‘live’ design briefs with realistic timescales attached. The school’s head lecturer John McFaul, has 20 years’ experience of working with brands such as Pepsico, Levi’s and New Balance and other tutors include illustrators, graphic designers and advertising creatives.

All graduates will receive a course certificate, but crucially the school will continue to support students for up to one year after they graduate by helping them to find employment.

We’re planning to run the course three times a year and fees are £6,295 for the full-time course and £5,995 for the part-time course. And, to help with fees we’ve partnered with crowdfunding platform Education Aid, which aims to help students from underprivileged backgrounds by enabling them to borrow money, interest-free, to cover course fees.

Q: How do you think the design school will fulfil a need in the local area?

I am hoping the course will inspire local, creative talent and alongside the development of the new media centre that is being built at Chichester University’s campus in Bognor Regis, will help to grow the design resource pool in the local area. Also, the next stage of the design school will be to involve big companies in the area. I’d like to see them sponsor a place on the course, use our design talent, offer work placement or jobs – it’s all about finding work for local design talent.

Q: What was behind the decision to set up the school at Chichester University Bognor Regis Campus?

Well, at first I didn’t think they’d want me anywhere near their campus! However, I discovered that the design school fits with the University Business School’s role in supporting coastal communities by helping local businesses. I’m just pleased that they’re taking a wider view and are allowing us to rent studio space to launch the school.

Q: Could the Bognor Regis Creative Hub be part of the design school?

Definitely, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how the Hub space will develop. One idea is that it could in the future provide studio space for the school? The location is ideal and the plans to transform the two waiting rooms into a positive space to benefit the local community can only be a good thing.

Q: What help do you need from the creative community in Bognor Regis?

Once the course is up and running we’ll have more of an idea of the areas that we may need help with. At the moment, my time is mostly taken up with the detail of developing and publicising the course, which involves lots of admin! Eventually, I’ll need to free up my time to approach business in the area, so it may be that we can offer work experience or internships to local people.

Q: What are the goals for the Design School?

We want to offer students an alternative to the standard education and design route. What happens to the kids who don’t have the entry grades for university, but are no less talented or passionate about design? Or, those who cannot afford university fees? Our goal is to enable competent, inspired and dedicated students who on completing the course will be equipped with the skills that modern design agencies are looking for.

Good Luck Bill! It’s a fantastic idea and great opportunity for the local design community: a design course and a job club. We’ll be sharing news and updates from Strohacker Design School over the coming months.

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