Cutting-edge facilities prepare students for the creative fast lane
The convergence of art and
new digital technology is revolutionising the creative industries
worldwide and Australia’s leading art and design school – the College of
Fine Arts (COFA) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney –
is building a new state-of-the art campus to match. The A$48 million
redevelopment of COFA, located in one of Sydney’s most vibrant inner
city arts precincts, will ensure international art and design students
have the tools and facilities they’ll need to succeed in the rapidly
growing creative industries sector.
The new campus is built
of web 2.0 principles of ‘learning hubs’ and with advanced digital
capabilities so students can collaborate on creative projects either
across the room or across the globe. A major new gallery is included in
the redevelopment which will serve as the new entry for the college,
showcasing the best student work in experimental art, design and digital
From the top floor of
the new campus postgraduate students will be able to work and experiment
together – with a stunning view of Sydney harbour.
COFA is the only major
art and design school in Australia which has retained its long-standing
record of excellence for teaching in the traditional arts, art history
and art administration while, at the same time, embracing the rapidly
evolving digital media and arts sector.
COFA graduates continue
to win Australia’s most prestigious art prizes for portraiture and
landscapes, for example, while this year COFA collaborated with UNSW’s
Faculty of Engineering to create the world’s first interactive,
immersive 3D film experience. The COFA film project, Scenario, was a
centrepiece of the Sydney Film Festival, and attracted international
media coverage. Characters on a 360 degree ‘surround screen’ interacted
with individual viewers in the audience – using artificial intelligence
– so that every version of the story was different.
Nearly 400 of COFA’s
2,500 students are international, bringing a vibrant mix of cultures and
values to the classroom, as well as the inspiration of the artistic and
design heritage of many different societies.
often also contribute a deep understanding of traditional forms of
design taught at COFA, such as textiles, weaving and ceramics, according
to Dr Vaughan Rees, Associate Dean – International at COFA.
Project work at COFA
has long been underpinned by the value of cross-cultural collaboration
and researchers at COFA developed the Omnium software system to enable
students, researchers and artists to work with across the world, a
system since adopted by the Royal College of Art, London, and other
leading art educators.
It has strong
relationships with more than 100 partner institutions throughout the
world, including the Arts Institute of Chicago, the Central Academy of
Fine Arts in China, ZKM in Germany and the School of the Arts in
Glasgow. All students are encouraged to study in a country other than
Australia for one or two semesters.
COFA focuses on
producing ‘jobs ready’ graduates by forging strong links with the
creative industries, from animation and design studios to art teaching
to ensure graduates are highly employable in Australia and
internationally, says Dr Rees.
Many students have the
opportunity to work in industry: Bachelor of Design and Bachelor of Art
Administration students are offered industry internships in 700
companies across 22 countries, which very often lead to ongoing
employment, while Bachelor of Art Education students undertake teaching
practicums at schools.
Unlike many arts
colleges, COFA is connected to UNSW, a founding member of the Group of
Eight (Go8) universities with a top research reputation, world-class
facilities and a strong emphasis on international students. This means
that COFA students are able to use UNSW’s research and sporting
facilities, are served by its student support services, and are able to
study a large variety of courses offered by other faculties of the