Choosing what I want to study in Germany, I focused on looking for practice which I lacked. After I had received a degree in interactive media directing in Russia, I realized that I learned to think and tell stories, but have no idea how to implement them and manage processes and projects, I had a lack of expertise regarding application design (interfaces, web, projects) and management (timing, coordination, setting priorities). Therefore, my future job had to be an “applied” one. In the end, I chose communication design as the broadest branch in design which includes everything from designing interfaces to subway navigation. The second important to me condition was the city — I had been living in big cities for a very long time, so I didn’t feel like going to a nice German village or a students’ town. For me, studying in a foreign country is not so much the studying itself as social connections, full life outside the university, a new culture and integration, so I chose the following cities: Hamburg, Berlin (plus Potsdam), Leipzig and Munich.
After a small research, it became clear to me that applied professions in Germany are taught in high schools know as “Fachhochschule” (so that it is still considered as higher education), while universities there pay more attention to the theoretical side of studying. High schools are divided into two types — public and private ones. At first, I true-heartedly considered enrolling in a private school, enticed by excellent hardware and the latest software, not paying much attention to the of training cost which started from 800 Euros per month and the fact that no one knows professors teaching there, and the school web-sites looked more like booklets than school portals.
I saw one of these schools in Berlin.
► BTK — Hochschule für Gestaltung / Berlin
The modules taught can be found here — http://www.btk-fh.de/docs/140219_kd_curriculum.pdf
Here’s the course description:
“The field of Graphic Design has developed rapidly in response to recent technological developments such as digitalization and the resulting economic and social changes. For many years, a Graphic Designer could be reasonably successful using with a relatively narrow range of skills and specialized knowledge. However, both contemporary and future systems of multimedia communication demand a much more comprehensive approach to the teaching of design and development of future areas of expertise within the profession.
The modern Media Designer is now much more closely integrated into the areas of strategy and conception. They have a much greater influence and help ensure that not only considerations of a formI even applied for a scholarship there and received it within the bachelor’s course, but they offered me to go to an annual master’s program; and after I thought it over, I refused.”
To apply for a scholarship, one had to fill out a questionnaire and make a homework project, and then 5 best applicants had to go to Berlin to present and defend their portfolios. The project topic was “My Future.” Typically, schools do not limit the ways the project can be implemented in, i.e. the art techniques may vary, applicants are allowed to paint, sculpt, draw, make games, apps, web-sites, whatever.
There are several ways of finding the right program — one can search for it on the Internet by simply typing the degree name, finding people from different schools and ask them, or using all of the available programs aggregators. I used all the three. As for the latter method, here are some useful links:
Talking to my friends, colleagues and those indifferent led to the fact that there were almost ten schools on my list, but of course by adding even schools which were not that good I tried to secure myself and avoid situations when I could be left with nothing.
But now, looking back, I wish I had advised myself to believe more in my own abilities and not choose more than four schools — thus, one could be satisfied, and the chance to get enrolled is quite high, and the projects will be really good, and there won’t be any hurry to complete the homework.
Here is my list:
► Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee Hochschule für Gestaltung / Berlin
Berlin School, located in a huge building, its students say there is quite a lot of freedom, no celebrities among the professors, adequate subjects, good teamwork culture and the ability to focus on a student’s own aims. The School perfectly deals with digital portfolio and generally keeps pace with the times. I had a great impression left from both the School itself and the exams.
► Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg / Hamburg
A very reputable school in Germany, mostly focused on experimental design; with strict, but attentive professors, the first courses feature a lot of hand work; however, students there are treated with understanding, for example, those having a digital background, so there is a possibility to make various combinations.
The program resume:
This department aims to introduce students to the disciplines surrounding design, to support students in their individual artistic development and in defining a professional purpose for themselves, and to help them to become responsible creative individuals. At the centre of the study programme are the individual student’s intentions for theoretical and/or practical work. During the course of students’ chosen studies the development of these plans will be supervised in the different studios on an individual basis by tutors, with reference to product design, technical design and mediatecture. They will also be supported by theoretical and subject-based tuition. Learning about creative and technical possibilities for carrying out artistic ideas will mainly take place in the workshops for forming in plaster, glass, wood, ceramics, artificial materials, metalwork and fine metalwork.
► Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst / Leipzig
The most classic of the selected schools — here design is recognized as art; computers are used with reluctance, but most importantly — students are trained there simplify and leave only the most important features. It is considered to be the best school of classical design in Germany and has a very strong and eminent staff, strict discipline and wholehearted studies — at exams, the applicants are warned that during the first three years no one works — it’s impossible.
► Hochschule München / München
Strong and hearty school which provides a huge range of possible modules, so it is convenient to compose a “custom” curriculum. Students who reach the fifth semester have impressive portfolios in different areas of design, do not shy away from programming and have their own school building with a very pleasant atmosphere.
► Fachhochschule Potsdam / Potsdam
A friend of mine graduated from this school and praised it because while one studies it is possible to “overlap” in all the other areas, no one particularly separates one from another and there are no restrictions — students can try to design products, interfaces, casting, engraving. There are some very good font professors, as well as freedom, which is usually absolutely necessary when you know exactly what you want to do and it is important that no one has anything against is.
In my next posts, I will talk about the process of admission to each of these schools in detail. However, the main point is that there is a large variety of educational institutions, so you can choose something suitable, even if you need to consider several parameters. Professors are communicative, many schools organize “test” training sessions, all of them consult applicants on portfolio preparation, so do not be shy, just use your wisdom and curiosity to find that very school where you will study with pleasure throughout the whole program.