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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 media.

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.

International students 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 University.

For further information about the University of New South Wales contact:
T.  +61 2 9385 6996

For further information about COFA contact:
T. +61 2 9385 0684

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