The annual Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs) highlight the incredible work carried out by institutions for their students. Due to Covid restrictions, this year’s awards were not collected on uni campuses as usual, but instead based on submissions from institutions, which were then judged by our special student panel.
2021 WUSCA winners
As a mature student my experience has been fantastically rewarding and challenging. Now that I’ve completed my degree, I feel confident in what I’ve learnt and excited about what my creative future holds. Working hard most definitely pays off but listening and learning from a multitude of creative professionals has been invaluable too. As with so much in life, it’s what you make of it and I consider my studies to have been a truly formative and invigorating experience, seeing the world around me in new and exciting perspectives - rich with potential for creative conversations, continued learning and also growth.
Professional development and planning are a key part of studies. Opportunities to meet and talk with multiple practicing artists is an integral part of each semester. This is not only invaluable for networking but also an opportunity to seek feedback on your own work plus gain advice relating to working in the arts. Opportunities to exhibit work is also key to studies, whether it be an on-line residency, a gallery or a site-specific project. This, along with entering competitions, are positively encouraged, helping build confidence to show your work and build contacts beyond your studio practice. All great potential for new opportunities.
I have appreciated the planning that goes into student contact time. Regular lectures, seminars, artist visits and tutorials are all structured to provide a broad range of information and experiences. In the later stages of study, they become increasingly tailored to individual practices. Tutorials are offered regularly, becoming an invaluable and supportive conversation to help develop individual practices. Structured activities and group crits are particularly useful too. There’s very little I’ve disliked about the way I’ve been taught and I have valued the generosity with which individual knowledge and expertise is shared.
The technical / workshop facilities are excellent and the studio space is light and generous. The on site library is excellent too, although it would be hugely helpful to have easier access to the Essex University Library. The college is undergoing on-going building improvements which is good to see and hopefully funding will be made available to improve the car park before too long. The college offers a variety of places to buy food and drinks plus a very useful college shop. The grounds are also undergoing some improvements with the addition of a sensory garden but it would be good to see some imaginative shrub, tree planting around the site!
From a personal perspective, the support has been amazing with tutors and technicians offering generous and constructive feedback. The expertise of the library staff has been invaluable too - also always happy to help. Excellent technical and study skills support are always available if needed.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my educational experience. The small taking of the course seemed to make us, as students, form a stronger bond with each other which helped us manage throughout the duration of the course. The staff have been consistently exceptional in helping us achieve our vision and broaden our creative limits. The facilities available at the college encouraged me to learn a vast range of skills that I was unlikely to encounter or partake in at a university with a greater intake of students. I have had the opportunity to be surrounded by a variety of creatives, both students and staff, and gained a wider understanding of my subject. The addition of frequent artist talks throughout the years also allowed for a better understanding of life beyond art school as well as allowing us to receive feedback about our own practice from people whom don't know us, finally, it has encouraged us to begin making contacts outside of the perimeters of where we know.
The addition of the Professional Development Module encourages us to create a professional online portfolio, CV and artist statement which helps prepare us for making contacts or partaking in creative collaborations. We are encouraged to enter into any available opportunities such as open exhibitions, competitions, residencies etc.
The contact time on the course far exceeds many other universities due to the small number of students on each pathway - this allows for any uncertainties or worries to be addressed quickly. Staff are easily accessible either in person or via email and are always happy to help - I have always considered there to be a great deal of support and enthusiasm from staff which in turn makes for a more productive attitude from students. At the beginning of each term we are given both a verbal and written copy of the module guide, therefore, have a clear understanding of what is required from us. Sometimes, supporting modules feel as though they could be better supported by the staff running them, however, I found this to be a relatively infrequent occurance throughout my time studying here.
The creative facilities are excellent, a wide variety of processes, techniques and equipment are on offer throughout the art school and seemingly grew over the period that I studied here. Each workshop has a dedicated technician of whom will always offer assistance in your creative endeavours.
I think the support on offer is invaluable. Staff were always there to support me through both personal and educational matters; even if it were just a rant about issues outside of university they considered it their duty to assist. I have always received appropriate and constructive support from tutors regarding module feedback, progression on the course or within my work and have appreciated this endlessly throughout the course. I cannot thank them enough for their guidance throughout my time studying.
As a mature student returning to education for a career change, I was extremely nervous of entering full time education again. However I did not need to worry as this course and it's tutors are at the top of their profession and helped me navigate the art experience. The access to studio space is amazing and I had my own area which was a really good size with access to workshops and darkrooms. The small class size means excellent one to one with tutors on a regular basis. The modules are well laid out and tutors are clear and patient. Technicians are always on hand to book time to help if you need new skills or want assistance with electrical or gallery assistance. The studio is as clean as the students make it and there is good health and safety guidence. Great ceramic tutoring and woodworking skills tutorage and fine art has good access to photographic studios too and the technical knowledge is great. Lectures are fantastic and relevant to contemporay themes.
Constantly emailed about external oppotunities. Good feedback sessions and links with local organisations for artists. Great careers department who is always accessable.
I like that the classes are small which allows good one to one. I have zero negative comments.
Extremely good facilities.
Extremely good contact hours and tutorial support by lecturers and tutors.
Best thing I ever decided to do, I am what you might call a mature student and I can honestly say I'm having the best possible experience. If you are in any doubt you should come along and have a look or just go for it. It is all a lot easier than I ever thought possible and they are interested in your outlook rather than bits of paper.
Every effort is made to relate studies to your future plans. I wish to pursue Fine Art and my tutors are very positive steering my research towards practitioners that will best reflect my chosen path yet at the same time give a diverse and practical range of technical skills that can be utilized in many other fields within photography.
I have a range of tutors who are all very knowledgeable and have a selection of specialties. There is never a problem getting time with a tutor for clarification, advice or inspiration. I work part time and fortunately I can be fairly flexible with my hours, it might have been a problem if this was not the case but clear timetables are given for the year so study planning is fairly straight forward.
The university has all the necessary facilities including black & white and colour darkrooms and developing, a number of studios with all the expected lighting and background options, several well equipped computer suites (with PC's and Mac's available) as well as a good selection of camera equipment should it be required.
Really exceptional support from all departments within the uni'. Your tutors obviously get to know you quite well and take a keen interest in helping you progress as far as you want to go. Every effort is made when you start to identify any needs you may have and offer relevant assistance. Should difficult circumstances arise they have you covered and they will do everything they can to help. It will likely happen and they take it all in their stride.
As an older student i worried that i would be 'out of touch' with those around me but the staff have made this transition easy for me. I have revealed in learning a new ability and feel that the college and staff have done everything possible to help me. The taught subject lessons have been interesting and engaging and have enthused me for the subject.
Within the college education i have received first class tutoring towards the subject. All of the work within classes has been tailored to help guide the students towards their own particularly interests within the field as well as imparting valuable technical information and theory work. I myself had work recognised within one of my modules and was invited to take part in an outside exhibition of work, this was of course fully supported by the tutors within my course and enabled me to gain new admirers and valuable new contacts for myself as an artist and the work i produced. I have received constant support for all my ideas and the tutoring has helped guide and support my own learning. helping me to continually grown and improve.
The course is taught with a certain level of freedom that allows me to explore and discover my own interests and ideas. Lessons are always enjoyable and within a comfortable and friendly environment with encouragement given towards creativity and hard work. Most importantly i have never felt restricted or ignored.
The university has excellent facilities with plenty of places to eat swell as multiple in college clubs and groups to get involved with. There is always a friendly atmosphere and staff are always available to help out. There is also incredibly good facilities available towards courses, the photography department alone as multiple dark rooms and printing facilities aswell as good studio space.
The staff are always happy to make themselves available to discuss problems, both academic and personal. They always help to try and guide your own creativity and ideas as opposed to imparting themselves upon your work. Open access sessions are also regularly available with staff always happy and willing to guide sessions in a new area of interest
my overall college experience so far has been busy but exciting, this is because the work load i receive keeps me occupied at all times. however there is also many exciting elements to the course, for example using the studio and darkroom often which is something i enjoy, as well as going on trips to expand our knowledge (Brighton) during the first year it was taken as a shock to how much work i had to hand in, throughout all modules but this year i feel more organised.
in the second year of our degree course, we are given the opportunity to work with small businesses and helping them to promote themselves by taking images for their websites or business cards, whatever they chose.
i like most how our course can be very independent at times, such as with the sketchbook work and processing and developing film. however what i dislike about the course is our lectures, this is because not all of them are relevant to photography so we will be sitting in a lecture which isn't relevant.
i think our college facilities are very good and very useful, this is because i always seem to have everything i want if needed and also the right amount as i have never had to call off a shoot or wait around until something got returned, so therefore i feel like the supply of facilities is good.
i feel like the support i receive from tutors is extremely helpful, this is because if ever i need help with anything or don't understand something they will always be able to reassure me and put me back on track.
Very positive, came out with better grades than i thought on first year and i think this is down to such personal teaching and helpful tutors and also because of the range of skills we explored. i learnt so much in my first year and feel i have a very good basis of knowledge now which i can use for furthering my education.
We work with businesses for certain modules to help build on our skills for after the course ends. We also do a lot of work for our portfolios to help us build a good portfolio for when we leave the course. We have a lot of photographers come in to talk with us about photography as a career and what to expect/plan for.
I like how we can take each module in our own direction and work a lot on our own interests. Lots of the modules are easy to personalise which therefore makes it easy for everyone to have their own interests built on during the course. Something i don't like the lectures on this course as some don't link to photography but they are still good for broadening knowledge.
Very good. we have lots of good facilities including a good library, mac suite, studio, lighting, darkrooms, developing/processing machines for film. I think the facilities are excellent and you can almost always gain access to them.
The course is very hands on and you have a lot of contact with tutors, almost like school in this sense, i would never of thought i would have had this much support and contact with tutors on a degree but i think because of the small group numbers it means we have much more personal teaching which is great and is so helpful when stuck. i think it makes me do way more work than if i was without this teaching.
i have enjoyed my uni experience and have learnt a lot in the past year and a bit, i have learnt both digital and analogue photography and been able to use both studios and ovations in my work and been able to get creative
They teach us a range of skill that can helps in the future, however i feel as though more direction into work places would be helpful, i am hoping this will be something in which we are given direction in the the end of my 2nd nd going into my 3rd year
the things in which we are expected to do outside of uni need more direction i feel, for example time in lessons to do sketchbooks. Also the lectures don't always link to photography there they are sometimes pointless and i feel like the time could be spent doing more helpful things
what they have is good however they need more of the stuff thats popular as you cannot always get your hand on it. printers don't always work meaning its hard to get your sketchbook done if you don't have a printer at home
in lessons we have good feedback on our work, however i feel like its not always constructive and makes me feel like my work isn't always about what i want it to be
I have learnt a lot in the first year, although not with digital photography. So this year I am hoping to learn more about that as that is the medium I am interested in
Very helpful in preparing to work with clients and building a portfolio of work. Also to create out own websites and present ourselves as Photographers.
I like that we are able to explore our own styles and get to choose which medium within photography to stick with- not being swayed to a certain style. Sometimes it is difficult to get studio space as there are many art students booking it at the same times.
Very good, although wish there was more space for Photography students
Tutors and feedback has been very useful
As a second year student I can strongly say that I am having the best time studying photography at this university. I have built strong relationships with the staff and students which makes the learning environment a happy place to work. I am grateful for the opportunities that I have been offered throughout my time on the course and look forward to developing my skills and work experience with the support of my tutors.
Since being on the course I have had opportunities given to me for paid work through the university tutors, have exhibited my work in a local gallery and have worked with institute staff on events that has led to my work being published in a local newspaper. The tutors in the photography department strongly support students in gaining work experience and assist with making contacts in students desired fields.
What I like most is the support and time we get with our tutors. We have a lot of 1:1 time with our tutors which helps in the development of ideas.
The photography department has two black and white darkrooms as well as a colour darkroom. There are two large studio spaces with numerous coloured back drops and lighting equipment available to all students. The department has a wide range of loanable camera equipment which is so useful as a student because you don’t have to buy all your equipment before starting the course.
I can not fault the staff at the university. I have always felt fully supported and happy as a student.