Can British ceramics education survive?
Partington, M. (2010) Can British ceramics education survive? In: Annual Conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), Philadelphia Convention Centre, Philadelphia, USA, 31 March - 3 April 2010.
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A discussion of the rapid reduction in undergraduate ceramics courses in the United Kingdom and its potential impact on the landscape of international ceramics. In the UK we are experiencing a significant shift in the landscape of ceramics education. Since early 2008 significant ceramics courses such as those at the University of Westminster (Harrow), Edinburgh College of Art and Bath Spa have closed, adding to the many which disappeared during the early 2000s. From a highpoint in the late 1980s of upwards of thirty courses to a current situation of less than ten, this paper will look at why the current situation has arisen and offer a vision for the future of ceramics in the United Kingdom. I will begin by outlining the history of ceramics education in the UK from the early 1900s to the present day. In tracing the history of ceramics education across the UK I will seek to offer explanations for the current dearth of undergraduate courses. In looking at case studies of those courses which have closed and those which have continued to flourish I will give concrete examples to support my argument. The causal issues which will be investigated range from the absence of ceramics education in schools; increased student fees and loans; the high costs per student for Universities and Colleges providing ceramics courses and the changing perceptions of ceramics as a viable career. Finally I will look at the significance of this phenomenon internationally particularly in the light of changes to education funding and expectations in both the USA and the United Kingdom. This paper will involve original research in addressing an area that has not been touched upon in detail from a British perspective.