Initial findings of the ‘Innovations in supporting the first-year student experience’ research study have been released by the Higher Education Academy. The report covers a sample of 6,000 students across 23 universities. It seems that too many students are signing up for a degree on the basis of the title and geographic location alone, quite possibly during the panic of clearing, since…“41% of students knew little or nothing about their course before enrolment”. One would hope that the UK-wide intake of some 50,000 art & design students per year are being more discerning. There is perhaps also some wishful thinking about the outcomes, too, since… “72% were confident that their programme would lead to an appropriate graduate-level job.” Yet we know that art & design graduates are apparently (recent and reliable research is limited) among the most likely to be unemployed and/or underemployed after they graduate.

Also interesting is the report’s finding that… “The survey did not find any marked differences according to gender … Differences according to ethnicity were also small”. It’ll be interesting to see the full report, when it’s published in Autumn 2006.