Job-Ready Graduates?: Examining the professional development of fine art students in Australian undergraduate fine art degrees

As the funding landscape for the arts becomes more volatile, the need to equip art students with a comprehensive skillset to enter and navigate this sector is becoming increasingly dire.

This includes the development of a bridge between universities and the sector that supports
student transition from one to the other. Many fine art departments in Australian Universities
nurture the growth of this bridge through the inclusion of professional development
programs within their Bachelor of Fine Art degrees. These programs can be integrated
throughout undergraduate course in various ways, such as incorporating a week dedicated to
grant writing or focussing a whole subject on an industry placement. Despite this, the visibility
of this bridge (between arts education and entry to the sector) is not always visible to
undergraduate students. This raises the question as to whether fine art graduates actually are
job-ready. Whilst current research into creative entrepreneurship focusses more broadly on
defining how entrepreneurship takes effect in the Cultural and Creative industries, none to
date focus specifically on examining how Australian fine art students are taught to be
entrepreneurs of their own practice. As the Higher Education and Arts and Cultural sectors
re-shape in light of recent local and global events, an examination of the professional
development of art students must also be considered. An empirical study has therefore
recently commenced that examines the course contents of single undergraduate Fine Art or
Visual Art degrees, to ascertain the extent of professional development taught to students.
These courses were selected from Australian Universities who have a designated fine art
department. This presentation will provide an overview of the methodology and the findings
of this research, with a focus on highlighting the emerging pedagogical trends and approaches
towards the professional development of art students in fine art degrees. This will also include
an examination of the implications of these findings for the networks that these students
operate in: the art schools who nurture them, the sectors who receive them, and most
importantly for the student themselves – the ‘job-ready’ graduates.

Subscribe for updates