Careers and Studying Design at Higher Education

Study at colleges of art and design is mostly within design related areas of specialism. These include: Three Dimensional Design, Product and Industrial Design, Furniture Design, Jewellery Design, Exhibition Design etc.

When we ask the question - What are we educating young people in art, craft and design for? We have to acknowledge that the overwhelming majority will study within a wide range of design based courses, before graduating and working in the design sector. More than two million people work in creative industries and that number is growing - already up nearly a third since 2011. This equates to 1 in every 11 workers. 

In the publication Creative Graduates Creative Futures, published in 2010, the evidence of a longitudinal study analyses the career patterns of graduates in art, design, crafts and media subjects qualifying in 2002, 2003, 2004 from 26 UK higher education institutions. Amongst the conclusions in the executive summary was that, the majority of graduates work in creative occupations and the most common employment sector was the design industry.

The following statements were taken from the executive summary - The majority of graduates work in creative occupations:

  • Looking across all graduate experiences since graduating, three out of four graduates had worked in the creative industries and a similar proportion had had a paid permanent job. Graduates were asked to describe up to three jobs or work activities they were undertaking at the time of the survey, to take account of portfolio working. More than three quarters (78 per cent) of working graduates were in creative occupations. Half the respondents worked in organisations of ten or fewer workers (in their main job).
  • Under one in 20 graduates were unemployed or looking for work at the time of the survey.
  • The most common employment sector was the design industry (approximately one quarter of graduates); education at 20 per cent; followed by fine art and fashion/textile design (both at 14 per cent) and work in media production and photography (13 per cent), largely reflecting the expected vocational choices of the sample population.


CHEAD is the association of educational institutions with degree or postgraduate provision in art and design. 

CHEAD confirm that at present, UK Higher Education establishments offer a total of 331 specialist courses in art and design. 

Their infographic is available at:


In support of Careers in Design in the UK

  • The UK has the second-largest design sector in the world and the largest design industry in Europe.
  • The UK is recognised for the high quality of its designers. It is one of the most established design industries in the world, building on design and innovation dating back to the Royal Society of Arts’ support of open innovation in the mid-18th century and the great industrial designers and innovators of the first Industrial Revolution, including Stephenson, Brunel and Telford.
  • The UK applies for the most trademarks within Europe and ranks fourth in the world for number of applications.
  • The UK ranks fourth in the world for design exports and exports 50 per cent more design than it imports. Ninety per cent of British design businesses say their main competition comes from within the UK.
  • The UK has an internationally acclaimed infrastructure that includes strong cultural assets such as the Design Council, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Design Museum and world-class courses at universities.


Helpful websites:



The Creative Industries Council


The Creative Industries Federation


Discover Creative Careers