The large gap between the cost of design education in Germany and the rest of Europe is starting to tip prospective students preferences. While the disadvantage of selecting Germany as an educational destination was the overriding need to speak German, things are changing. At Universität der Künste Berlin (UdK), students contribute just €320 per semester for social security, student representation, and a public transportation ticket. By comparison, Master students at Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, a cheap school by general European standards, pay on average €2000 (European residents) or €15,000 (international students).

Ineke Hans, the Dutch designer, educator and researcher, has recently been appointed a professor of the Design and Social Context department at UdK. The appointment comes at a moment when students struggle to grasp their potential relevance. As Hans says, ‘I think designers need to channel their qualities into more intangible products, into research and getting more deeply involved in strategies.’

UdK

The challenge for Hans is to keep the course syllabus abreast with the rollercoaster changes in the industry. Axel Kufus, professor of design and development at UdK, thinks to keep up with change it is important that departments not become too specific. ‘I like to see students embrace both digital and analogue strategies,’ he says, ‘to marry classical research with innovation, and to always be looking to cooperate with companies. I think the key is to know how to be interdisciplinary.’

‘And I think the best way to establish this link is to build a context for design thinking,’ adds Hans, ‘because the context we are working in as designers have changed. More and more I start to see design as a system, so knowing how design can work in different social, political and economic systems, and what strategies can be implemented, is imperative.’

UdK

Most important, is that at school, designers access the necessary mental freedom to allow their own personal attitudes to flourish. Hans has the advantage of instigating and following through with the school’s new vision: ‘As an educator, I want to make young designers aware of their position as intermediates between buyers and the making industry. They need to be able to think sharply and be original.’

UdK: HALL 3.1 / STAND B018

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