Guest Blog: Smarter Regions - Bath Spa University's Design Buddy Scheme

26 Mar 2014

Bath Spa University is a place where creative minds meet and the student experience is at the heart of everything we do. This culture allows students to thrive in a creative community and become successful graduates who meet the needs of the growing creative industries, especially in the South West of England.

The University has many links and partnerships with local businesses which have developed and flourished over a number of years. The ethos at Bath Spa of ensuring degree programmes reflect the needs of business and industry means graduates are entering the world of work well equipped, experienced and ready for the challenges of a professional organisation.

One partnership programme that has proved very successful is the Design Buddy mentoring scheme which has been running annually since 2011. It was developed and is run in partnership with the West of England Design Forum, whose members provide the mentors. Second year undergraduates on the BA Graphic Communications degree course are given the opportunity to have one-to-one mentoring from senior designers, creative directors and agency owners in Bath and Bristol.

The scheme has been designed so that students gain valuable experience of a professional studio or agency, showcase their portfolio of work, gain a deeper understanding of what is really needed in the industry, make new contacts and grow in confidence.

One industry partner commented: “Design Buddy continues to provide students with valuable real world experience. We had a great student who used us to the max. She’s gravitated to London and is being courted by world-class agencies. We’re proud to have helped her achieve this and are looking forward to our next experience.”

To date, over 100 students and 30 organisations in the South West have taken part in the Design Buddy scheme and the relationship doesn’t end when a student graduates. The programme has helped developed on-going relationships with local businesses and employers who provide internships, guest lecturing, curriculum advice, knowledge exchange and graduate employment. We hope that many of our graduates who have benefitted from the scheme will in turn become Design Buddies for future students.

Due to the success of Design Buddy the model has been replicated for final year BA Creative Media Practice students who have access to a Media Buddy from Bristol Media. Media Buddy is now in its second year and has supported over 40 students. We hope to extend the model to Music Buddy and Art Buddy next year.

Peter Tribe, Enterprise and Employer Liaison Coordinator, Bath Spa University