Today, our new programme for design students at UK universities launches with our first cohort of intellectually-curious future design leaders at Manchester School of Art. 

Over the next six months we will be bringing our new educational programme,  Design Academy, to six design schools across the country (Nottingham Trent, University of the Arts London, Portsmouth University, Sunderland University and Norwich University of the Arts), the students from which will be undertaking an intensive and experience-led process.

Over the course of 4-6 weeks, students will be immersed into strategic design practices with the opportunity of applying these to tackle major social and economic challenges relating to healthcare. This will be through a major new Design Council initiative, Design for Care, which aims to create a care system that is more personalised, more connected and more preventative.

Students will also gain industry insights from leading practitioners in the digital and public sectors from Hyper Island, IBM and the Cabinet Office.

Design Academy comes at an important but equally challenging moment for design education.

We’re seeing a golden era for design with recent figures from our research Design Economy showing for the first time the significant contribution it makes to the UK, generating 7.2% of total GVA. From 2009-2013 the design economy grew at a faster rate than the UK average. Our research also showed that for businesses which invest and use design strategically, the output per employee is greater.

Strategic design capability is a fundamental requirement for business and innovation leaders today and in the future, as the needs of business and the public sector become increasingly complex and the challenges they are tackling require a more integrated response from design.

This strongly suggests it is more important than ever before for graduating design students to understand and build their capability in strategic design in order to stand out from the crowd. Design Academy will give students this highly competitive edge as they start their career by gaining access to Design Council’s world-class content, contacts and new thinking.

The programme gives design students the opportunity to work in multidisciplinary teams to embed strategic design approaches into their existing specialism and optimise their future prospects – whether setting up their own business or moving into the job market. And we’re not stopping there. We are also setting our sights on pioneering engineering and business schools that want to give their students a more rounded set of innovation skills and competitive edge, as they take the first steps in their career.

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