Standardising portfolios for art and design-related university applications

Further to issues raised by the NSEAD community about the process and impact of multiple portfolio generation on students, we conducted an indicative survey and have begun to share findings.

Thank you to everyone that took part in our indicative survey which aimed to identify and learn more about the process and impact of multiple portfolio generation on students applying to art, craft and design-based university courses and/or foundation courses.  

At a recent CHEAD seminar, Michele Gregson shared some of the results. We were extremely grateful to Aidan Ryan NSEAD, Deputy Headteacher of Elm Green School, London, who was invited to speak at the event and who shared his first-hand experience of witnessing the impact of multiple portfolio generation on his students. Our thanks to Aidan and his art and design team, for also undertaking a student survey, and for bringing this pressing issue to our attention. The CHEAD delegates took the survey findings and Aidan’s first-hand account very seriously. NSEAD will ensure that the survey findings continue to be shared and recommendations to streamline the process further explored.

We need to continue the dialogue and our aim is to invite higher education representatives to a roundtable discussion where once again we can present the findings.

Headlines and recommendations from the survey include:

Numbers of portfolios: Thirty percent of respondents said their students completed five or more portfolios; 26% said they completed four. Ten percent said their students had created just one portfolio (6%).

Impact: The vast majority of respondents (over 80%), described the impact of multiple portfolio generation on their students in a negative way. They used these or similar descriptions: Stressful, stressy; breaking down in tears; causing anxiety; frustration; overwhelmed; not good for morale; distressed; losing out on sleep.

Recommendations include: Limiting the number of slides or at least having some parity – making it a set amount and a standard format and one submission date.