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
loved my time so far at Plymouth college of art. its a small ish uni so you get to know the staff and they know you too. good resources as well loads of macs and so many books to look at as well as magazine subscriptions like vogue and aperture. there is also an equipment resource centre that offers loans on loads of equipment and some high end stuff to like the hassleblad cameras and basic stuff like canons and graphics tablets. plymouth is great to when its not raining.
the facilities, technicians and lecturers are truly amazing and everyone is so knowledgeable and friendly.. over covid times we have been sent stuff and the president of the su ran a food bank from her flat which was amazing. just feel really thankful and supported in my studies here, and would highly recommend the experience to anyone (all ages, genders, everything goes at art school!!)
the careers team is amazing and so lovely when you reach out but I think most students aren't aware of their support
facilities are just amazing, so much specialist equipment !!
the wellbeing / mental health support is amazing, especially Ethan
My time in my final year at PCA, and overall to be quite honest, has been an absolute dream. Despite a global pandemic breaking the year up halfway through, with the incredible help and overwhelming support from PCA I was able to complete my final year to a standard I feel I still would have been proud of had I had access to the studios the entire time. It is the constant support from the college that I will take with me now that I have left, the tangible creative buzz you feel when you enter the buildings and the sanctuary of the studios. I have forged friendships for life here, learnt amazing skills I never thought I would be able to learn, and fallen in love with the South West at the same time. All I need to do to see the impact PCA has had on me is to look at my work from the very start of first year all the way to my final collection and to see the leaps and bounds I have progressed thanks to the journey I have had here and the constant pushing of myself supported by the tutors. PCA helped me achieve my dream of being able to create clothes and show at Gradute Fashion Week and I will be forever grateful for my time there.
Throughout my degree we always had a module focusing on Career and proffessional development continuing through to the final project of third year. This was a great way to ease students into the continuous nature of a post-grad career and how there is no 'final deadline' for that sort of thing. It covers all the basics and even helps you figure out what you might want to do and get really specific about it. You can further help yourself by going to the Careers team for CV advice, Mock interviews and really any type of support you might need even if you do not know what it is that you want help with because it can be quite overwhelming. In terms of access to internships and job opportunities there was some pushing of it, but due to the nature of where the college is situtated in the country, it was very much up to you to find these sorts of opportunities and make it work for you. The college always has amazing guest lecturers in that you can attend from any discipline, not just the one it was intended for, because PCA really pushes you to explore new practices and pathways. The guest speakers always offer insightful information about thier field, thier career, and some even work with you afterwards on your CV/Interview skills. Specific to Fashion, PCA participate in Graduate Fashion Week every year. This is a huge opportunity for the students who get selected and it is a process that the tutors heavily support you and coach you in to ensure you are presenting your absolute best work in the best way. Even in the pandemic, I recieved so much remote support and was able to still participate and show my collection on the runway despite the year being broken up as it was. It would never have happened had PCA not helped me engage with these opportunities.
The way PCA teaches and the structure of the weeks are a huge bonus of studying there. The smaller class sizes mean that you get significant amounts of contact time with your tutors, as well as support through using and learning all the new equipment. The staff are so open and supportive too, there is always someone around or someone on the end of an email willing to help you, whether it be problem solving or support. The Open access studios make for really cooperative learning, as you can easily book time to come in and work anywhere in the college and with anyone. The whole building is bubbling with creativity. In terms of remote studying during the pandemic, the amount of support I received was amazing. It is a very tough thing to go through on all accounts and knowing I still had my tutors and technicians in my corner, wanting to help me and see me succeed was a huge comfort. There were plenty of regular check ins, both individual and group, to try and maintain the same dialogues we would have had if the studios had been open.
I personally never had any issues with accessing the facilities and equipment I needed at any time. You have to be responsible and book it yourself, whether that be studio space or specific equipment but if you are organised there are no issues and it is super easy. The studios and workspaces are all very well equipped with so many facilities across all of the different diciplines, which you are fully able to use if you just book an induction, broadening your skillset and uni projects. The Uni buildings, although laid out close together and built up more vertically have super spacious studios and I have never had an issue finding space to work when I needed it. The fashion studios, along with some other courses, have open plan studios. This meant that it was a gorgeous space to work, allowing you to work with and off of the creativity of your peers from all different year groups, but it also meant that you couldn't have your own personal workspace that you could leave out, you must be quite self contained and able to pack up after yourself everyday. Everyone was always really respectful of this rule and the studios were always so tidy. The PCA Library is a lovely space that I found I was relying on more as I worked through my degree. It is noticibly small, or smaller than some other libraries you may have been in, but very much feels like it fits with PCA. It is small but mighty. They pack so many relevant books and information in a space that is also fantastic to work in too. The service in the libary, and across all of PCA, is always a 'happy to help' attitude. Anything they can do to help elavate your work or your studies they will do, whether that is ordering books/resources for you or personally taking time out of thier day to help you.
I personally only had brief encounters with these sorts of services, notably when I was experiencing a difficult living situation and during the pandemic, both times I was helped and supported fully and thoroughly the entire time. The same ethos of 'happy to help' I found personally translated across to these services too, and I recieved super helpeful support as well as genuine care and catch ups regarding the situations to ensure I was feeling safe and content.
I would recommend this uni to anyone. I have never loved education so much, and really have a family on the course. My friend goes to a prestigious art college and hasn't had such a high level of education or opportunities as I have.
I am only in my first year (currently writing this in March, so I have only been at the uni for 5 months) and have already landed a huge internship in London. My lecturer found it for me, putting her trust in me despite not knowing me for very long. The contacts the lecturers at pca have are phenomenal.
The course is taught in a really well thought out structure, with three extremely passionate lecturers who consistently go out of their way to support you. During covid they have used hybrid learning both on campus and online, and both are very similar teaching and execution wise. They are always at the other end of an email and offer a huge amount of support. All three lecturers have a large amount of experience in the industry and have a lot of contacts which is amazing for guest lectures and also internship opportunities. The passion they have radiates and rubs off on all of the students, and when on campus they are really hands on, helping with shoots, reviewing work, doing workshops to show how things work etc. It is a great balance between practical and coursework, and although its a lot of work, they break it down into small sections to make it a lot easier to digest.
The facilities are exceptional. The campus is clean, modern and a great hub for creative people to flourish. Its bright, airy and inspiring. The ERC is where you go to collect equipment and they are lovely and have a huge range of equipment for everyone. The canteen is spacious and the food is amazing, and the library is great too. Due to covid I haven't maximised use of the spaces but they are certainly of a high standard.
There is lots of support offered, with on site counsellors specifically for PCA, well being check ins online and on campus, and the lecturers always remind us of the support available to us.
Overall I love Plymouth College of Art. The location has everything you need as a student: night life, lots of high street shops, country side, the sea, good public transport, lots of parks and green space, a great range of cafes/restaurants. The community at PCA is great too as the university isn't too big so we are more close knit. Everyone who studies at PCA is creative and has an interest in the arts, so it's lovely to be surrounded by like-minded people.
We have a job wall that is constantly being updated. They keep the jobs as art specific as possible so they are relevant to us as creative students. We also get the opportunity to do live briefs later in our degrees.
We have a great range of tutors who all have their own styles and experiences in the industry. The tutors are always easy to get hold of and keen to help out wherever they can. They make classes fun, even during COVID with hybrid delivery learning!!
We have over 25000 art specific books in our library and all sorts of different workshops and labs, including a FABLAB! Everything is accessible to all students for free too regardless of what course you're on.
There's 3 universities including ours in Plymouth, so there's a big student scene! There are a few night clubs and lots of bars/pubs to choose from including LGBTQ+ friendly spots. Plymouth has the best of both worlds in that it's a city that is directly next to the sea/countryside.
Student support at PCA has a great counselling system with no waitlist! They run an open door policy and are very welcoming and accommodating.
Over all wouldn't recommend at all, considered dropping out on several occasions and have come out with £27,000 in dept and now a lot of experience of knowledge.
I didn't really receive much career development, the tutors seemed to inform certain students about opportunities, didn't really feel included in it. Louise the careers counsellor is amazing though for CV help and things like that.
I cant think of anything I enjoyed? There is clear favouritism over all courses not just film, didn't really get taught anything. One day the tutors asked us about our experience and when one student spoke up about being taught aspects of filmmaking the head tutor said we should be teaching ourselves that stuff out of uni? Kinda defeats the point of the tutors and the course? I would give no stars if I could.
There is good equipment in the ERC but they can be rude for whatever reason. Not much other than that.
The tutors feedback is mostly redundant but the personal support from counselling, careers and library services is amazing and maybe the best part of the uni.
I had an amazing three years at PCA and was very sad to leave however I'm looking forward to keeping in touch and going back in the future. Applying was the best decision I have made and I'm so glad the course I studied met all my expectations and more. I never felt limited whilst studying at PCA and I'm so grateful for the opportunities I was given whilst studying there. The college has a great vibe and I loved studying and living with such a variety of creative people. I have enjoyed learning and collaborating with other students and feel I have had a well rounded experience studying at a creative art school.
PCA is extremely invested in making students employable. There is a whole module devoted to your professional practice where you learn about the job market you may go in to after graduating. They teach you how to create a professional CV, portfolio and website etc. Any opportunities for students such as work experience, workshops, competitions and digital promotions are extremely encouraged. The college also has a careers team which you can go to for help and advice such as developing your CV, looking for jobs, applications etc (- I have found this very helpful.) I felt that PCA made a lot of effort to help students consider their next step into industry and demonstrate how the skills they have developed transfer into the workplace. PCA want you to leave the college with an understanding of who you are as an artist/designer and where you want to go.
I really liked how my course was taught in a studio environment, this really made you feel like you were in professional, fun, workplace where creative learning can really flow throughout the space. I also really enjoyed the creative freedom within the course. You are allowed to pursue any area that you like and the variety of tutors with different experiences means there is also someone who will be able to guide you or give advice. The course covers a wide variety of topics which means you learn about the different areas of the interiors industry. When you finish the course you'll have a well rounded view and understanding of all the important aspects of interior: product, styling, architecture, photography, editorial, graphics, buying, print making, spatial design, materials etc. (It's the only course in the country that covers interiors, styling and decoration.)
PCA offer wonderful facilities and are invested in giving everybody the opportunity to learn how to use them. You can use facilities from all different areas of the college even if you don't specialises in that specific course/subject.
PCA offers great support for both personal and professional issues. Your tutors are there to support you through your uni life and uni work. There are also counselling teams that offer help to any students that may need more support. Extra finance is also available for students who may need extra support in certain areas.
I had an amazing time as always and I achieved so much especially the board of governors award. Everyone at the uni has helped and supported me throughout 3 years.
It had changed slightly
The facilities provided, tutorials, live briefs and the lecturers.
Very good and lots of events going on
It's been great. I've enjoyed myself at every step of the way. I've been supported by tutors whenever I've needed them and I've seen my art improve so much in the time I've been at uni
I love the variety in courses and the freedom to do what I want within the brief set
It's been so good that I don't want to leave! Feeling very prepared to begin my career and supported by the staff at from the Illustration Team. Wish I could go back and do it all over again!
Each course shapes our learning around our future careers. We're not just getting a piece of paper/certificate when we leave, we spend 3 years developing our practice as illustrators/artists and building the structures of our businesses. We have a careers team to help us gain placements and such, but every course will always have industry links in their department with trips/live briefs and networking opportunities built into our learning so we leave feeling extremely prepared for our careers to start as soon as we graduate.
Most I like the independence, that you get out as much as you put into this course, so if you have the drive and ambition to work hard you can achieve anything. Least, I can't think of anything that's negative!
Brand new Students Union social space and bar so the facilities are top notch! Also great representation of the student body with different reps for things like events/charities/marketing/LGBTQ representatives, also student reps from different courses form a student council to express the interests of every student.
Excellent, we have industry standard facilities on site which are accessible to all students to experiment and cross over into other courses.
Yes, closest halls is 30 seconds from the building, plenty of halls and private flats all over the city near town or whatever you need. Lots of options.
Students union run a great range of events and trips, like drink and draws, paddle boarding, quiz nights. Range of societies relating to our community interests eg. D&D society. So there's definitely something for everyone.
We have an academic studies team for support in writing, student support team which offers counselling and wellbeing support, as well as regular pastoral tutorials, 1 on 1 talks with tutors about individual projects, group critiques regularly, and feedback is prompt and communicated well to us.