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Enabling international access: deconstructing our concepts of creativity

Adrian Bregazzi

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The greatest barrier facing the otherwise fully-resourced international student seeking to enter creative industries education in Britain is gaining fluent access to the concepts of creativity deeply embodied in ‘the portfolio’. This barrier often continues to exist even after a successful application and actual enrolment, when a student encounters problems associated with the implicit or arcane lurking under the surface of almost any aspect of non-technical learning and teaching experiences
     It is unreasonable to expect a student from (say) Arkhangelsk, Buenos Aires or Chennai to demonstrate the same visual or linguistic culturally-determined experience and interests as a student from (say) Aberdeen, Birmingham or Cardiff. Yet effectively this often seems to be the norm. This is exacerbated by opaque concepts of creativity employed in assessing applications to creative industries courses in UK.
     Assumptions about what constitutes creativity come cloaked in collateral professional experience. “I know it when I see it” is not acceptable, though commonplace. Entry criteria enshrined in validated course documents unpick dismally, if at all. Even if we think we have a clear idea, we do not explain what we are looking for in Plain English. Assignment and project briefs come steeped in assumption. And actual study experience can be so infected with an unnecessary clubby exclusivity that many international students are prevented from full integration and engagement with a course. We need to identify exactly what we are looking for in an application and then develop transparent ways of communicating this to potential students. Logically, this process then needs to be extended to on-course learning and teaching.
     This richly audiovisual paper will set out ways Falmouth is developing with partners in Canada and USA to provide international students with remote experiential access to the concepts of creativity that underpin and evince real entry requirements to our courses. It will look at ways of simplifying intractable concepts and complex language, yet retaining all salient issues. It will introduce simple but highly effective ‘do it at home’ work-generating projects. It will demonstrate the visual tools that guide the student through the process of creating material that demonstrates their skills and interests, and how to reflect and enhance this in their statement of purpose. It will give an overview of how we brace students for their first engagement with British/Canadian/US Education. And it will illustrate how we have successfully banished the ‘p’ word.

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