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March 16, 2015

Should I go to film school? If so, which one?

Should I go to film schoolThis is the fourth in my carefully-planned trilogy of articles about film schools.  I have collected some statistics and links to help wannabe film students work out “Should I go to film school?”. I’m also proud to launch an entirely free database of the film schools and courses I found while carrying out this research.

What current students think

UnistatsUNISTATS logo is a government-backed organisation which provides a standardised scoring system for Higher Education courses in the UK.  They survey students to measure factors such as student satisfaction and employment after graduation. Unistats only publishes information for courses when they feel they have enough student responses, and they only cover courses on the UCAS admissions system.  Therefore, out of the 537 courses across 145 educational institutions I found, Unistats provides data on 219 courses and 96 institutions (i.e. 41% of courses and 66% of institutions). Below are the averages for educational institutions offering full time film courses starting in 2015 which feature some element of practical filmmaking.

Highest average student satisfaction

The chart below shows the percentage of surveyed students who agreed with the statement”Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course“.

Top institutionsSatisfied with quality of course
University Of Chichester100%
Blackpool and the Fylde College100%
University of Essex94%
University of Southampton94%
Canterbury Christ Church University94%
University of Reading94%
University of Derby94%
Oxford Brookes93%
University of Kent92%
Birkbeck University of London91%

Quality of teaching

The chart below shows the percentage of surveyed students who felt that “the staff are good at explaining things“.

Top institutionsGood at explaining things
Oxford Brookes100%
University of Essex100%
University Of Chichester100%
Blackpool and the Fylde College100%
University of Lincoln98%
University of Kent98%
Liverpool Screen School (Liverpool John Moores University)97%
University for the Creative Arts (Farnham Film School)196%
University of Salford (School of Arts and Media)96%
University of East Anglia96%

Highest levels of employment, six months after graduation

The chart below shows the percentage of surveyed students who were in paid employment six months after they graduated.

Top institutionsNow working
University of West London (Ealing School of Art Design and Media)90%
Leeds College of Art90%
Arts University Bournemouth (formerly University College)88%
Leeds Beckett University88%
University of Derby88%
University of Lincoln86%
Canterbury Christ Church University85%
Farnborough College of Technology85%
University of Roehampton85%
De Montford University. Leicester85%

What the inspectors think

QAA logoIf you are after more qualitative data on schools then I would suggest you look for at QAA reports.  They send inspectors to the schools to write independent reports on the quality of teaching and make recommendations for improvements.  They then return to assess where improvements are being made… You can search their website to locate reports for each institution but to make it easier for you, here are a few of the more recent investigations for film schools…

What’s after film school?

Higher Education Statistics Agency logoUsing 2012/13 data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, we are able to look at what arts students do after they graduate. (Sadly there is no breakdown of just film courses). The vast majority of arts students go into work in the UK after graduating. Destination of full-time first degree leavers in the UK And that work is mostly in “associate professional and technical operations”.  This is broad category which covers almost all professions in media but also therapists, fire fighters and air traffic controllers. Occupation of full-time first degree leavers entering employment for the first time

So, should I go to film school?

During my investigation and reporting I have taken care to avoid passing judgment on the courses and schools.  I don’t feel it’s my place to judge from afar and, most crucially, there is no simple answer to the question “Should I go to film school?”  It works for some and not for others. If you’re reading this and pondering that very question then I suggestion you perform your own mini research project….

  • Consider where you want to be in five / ten years and then seek out people doing that right now.  Most people in the industry are approachable and were in your situation once.
  • Talk to current and ex-students at the schools.  This should give you a good picture of what they are doing day-to-day and whether or not they think it is effective.
  • Consider how you enjoy learning – with others or at your own pace?
  • Map out a personal alternative plan to film school, which uses the same time and resources. i.e. if you had ~£20,000 a year plus 40 hours a week, how else could you turn them into a head-start in film?  This could be as simple as an apprenticeship or a more complex combination of many short courses, working on short films and studying from free resources.  This plan will give you something to compare film school against.
  • Go with your gut.  No-one knows what’s best for you. Even with all the data in the world, it is still a gamble so don’t stress about it too much.

Here is a reading list of a few of my past articles which may be of use…

Access to my data on film schools

I have been asked by a large number of people for a copy of the database I created during this research, so I have prepared two things… Firstly, I have set up FindAFilmSchool.com.  It is a searchable database of films schools and courses.  It’s free to use and my hope is that people will submit suggestions and corrections to the data. Find A Film School .com Secondly, see below for a list of UK institutions offering film courses which are at least one year long, involve some element of practical filmmaking and start in 2015. Disclaimer: These are the schools and courses that I could find when looking in December 2014 and January 2015.  Some schools will change their courses and it is possible I have missed information.  I will not be updating this list, just for logistical reasons.  Therefore, if you would like to view the most up to date information, or submit updates, then please head over to FindAFilmSchool.com.

InstitutionBA levelMA levelOtherTotal Courses
National Film and Television School013720
Staffordshire University112417
Bournemouth University410115
University of Hertfordshire87015
University of Bradford (School of Media, Design and Technology)103013
Birmingham City University64010
Met Film School25310
University of the Arts (London)91010
University of Central Lancashire52310
Southampton Solent University8019
University of Sussex2709
Edge Hill University6208
University of Wales Trinity Saint David4408
University of Portsmouth (School of Media and Performing Arts)7108
University of Wolverhampton (School of Media)4408
University of South Wales4048
Brunel University5207
Goldsmiths College0707
University of Kent2507
University of Derby3317
Canterbury Christ Church University5106
London South Bank University4206
London Metropolitan University3306
University of Bedfordshire2406
Royal Holloway University of London (Department of Media Arts)2305
Kingston University2305
Central Film School London4015
London Film Academy0235
Futureworks School of Media3025
University of Salford (School of Arts and Media)1405
University of Surrey5005
University for the Creative Arts (Farnham Film School)4105
University of East Anglia3205
University of Greenwich2305
University of West London (Ealing School of Art Design and Media)2305
Farnborough College of Technology4004
De Montford University. Leicester2114
Arts University Bournemouth (formerly University College)3104
Birkbeck University of London1304
Anglia Ruskin University2204
Buckinghamshire New University3014
Liverpool Screen School (Liverpool John Moores University)2204
Manchester School of Art (Manchester Metropolitan)2204
Nottingham Trent University1214
Plymouth University1304
Sheffield Hallam University3104
Cornwall College0044
Glyndwr University2204
Northern Film School2114
University of Cumbria4004
University of Essex3104
University of Bolton3014
University of Brighton3014
University of Winchester3104
University of Worcester4004
University of Sunderland (Faculty of Arts, Media and Design)3104
University Of Chichester2204
National University of Ireland, Galway0303
Regent's University London (College of Film, Media and Performance)2103
Bath Spa University2103
Falmouth University2103
Middlesex University1203
Newcastle University1203
Northumbria University2103
Plymouth College Of Art3003
St. Mary's University, Twickenham3003
Bradford College (Bradford WWI Film School)1023
University of Bristol1203
University of Glasgow0303
University of Leeds2103
University of Northampton2013
University of Reading2103
University Campus Suffolk2013
University of the West of England1203
University of York1203
York St John1203
University of Edinburgh0303
University Centre Grimsby2002
Cleveland College of Art & Design1012
Bournemouth & Poole College of Further Education0022
Leeds College of Art2002
Lancaster University2002
Leeds Beckett University1102
Norwich University College of the Arts1102
Oxford Brookes2002
Queen Mary University London1102
Queen's University, Belfast1102
Ravensbourne2002
Teesside University(School of Media)1102
Northbrook College Sussex0022
Blackpool and the Fylde College2002
The Manchester College0022
Screen Academy Scotland (at Edinburgh Napier University)1102
Brooksby Melton College0022
Barnsley College2002
Craven College0022
New College Nottingham0022
Queen Margaret University2002
Hull College2002
London Film School0202
Brighton Film School0022
SAE Institute (Oxford)2002
SAE Institute (London)2002
SAE Institute (Liverpool)2002
SAE Institute (Glasgow)2002
University of Dundee1102
University of Gloucestershire (Faculty of Media, Arts and Technology)2002
University of Lincoln1102
University of Roehampton2002
University of Southampton1102
University of Westminster (Faculty of Media, Arts and Design)1102
University of Wales at Aberystwyth (Department of Theatre, Film and TV Studies)0202
University of Leicester2002
Royal Central School of Speech and Drama0101
Edinburgh College of Art (University of Edinburgh)1001
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland1001
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design1001
Salisbury College (Wiltshire College)1001
Hereford College of Arts0011
Richmond, American University in London1001
Royal College of Art0101
Croydon College1001
Gloucestershire College0011
South Devon College0011
City & Islington College0011
Exeter College0011
Accrington and Rossendale College1001
Chesterfield College0011
City University London0101
Bangor University0101
Swansea University0101
Chichester College0011
Bournville College0011
Liverpool University0101
University of East London0101
University of Chester1001
University of Hull1001
University of Nottingham1001
University of St. Mark and St. John1001
Weston College0011
Warwickshire College (Group)0011
University of Stirling1001
University of Birmingham0101
University of the West of Scotland0101
University of Ulster0101

Epilogue

This represents my final article on film schools for a while.  It’s a topic which I am hugely interested in as it mirrors the best and worst of the film industry. Some institutions are cynically exploiting eager young people for profit while others are investing in the next generation of artists and industry leaders. Thank you to everyone who helped and gave advice, specially Alexis Kreager and Zac Klein.

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