It is amazing that my degree course seems to have disappeared without a trace. The authority that converts (‘translates’?) foreign qualifications to ones that Swedish institutions (and employers) recognises is having a hard time with my Art & Social Context degree.
And in turn I am having a hard time with it too as they have asked me to provide them with ‘documentation’ so they can assess my degree and give me ‘credits’ for it. I am trying to tracking down any information about the course that could provide them with information about the actual course content and ultimately what my degree actually means!
Here are some of the challenges:
· The college that I attended no longer exists. Dartington was subsumed by Falmouth University two years ago.
· The course that I took no longer exists. A couple of years after I graduated the course moved from Dartington to Bristol College of Art where it ran for a number of years before being significantly altered and renamed.
· The CNAA (Council for National Academic Awards) which validated Dartington’s degree no longer exists.
· Bristol College of Art is now part of University of West of England.
I graduated in 1990 from a curiously unique course at a wonderfully alternative college of visual and performing arts. It is the kind of place that simply does not exist anymore – to be honest it barely ever existed, it was always a little like a fairy-tale – a fantastic place where artists, actors, dancers and musicians lived in the grounds of an old old house deep in the countryside ….
Yes we were remote, “isolated” some would say, but we were all there because we wanted to learn rather than to get degrees. I can see now that I was very fortunate to go to college before students became paying customers, before maintenance grants were abolished, before league tables, before everywhere had to be a university, before research profiles were more important than being a brilliant teacher, before degrees were achieved by collecting a number of credits. And this is the real problem I am facing now, the authority here wants to equate my 22 year old degree with the current credits system. I want the authority to be able to equate my 22 year old degree to the current point system – because if they can not do it I might not be able to apply for academic or research opportunities.
So far I have learnt that Falmouth have no records of the course and that the Open University which holds the CNAA archive does not have information about the courses it validated. I am waiting to hear from University of West England. I also sent an email directly to my former theory tutor who is teaching at Falmouth. I remember that he was very involved in getting the degree validated and I hope that he is sentimental (or should that be professional?) enough to have kept some of the official papers that he and his colleagues wrote. It is these papers that might not only help me but that might show just how innovative and necessary the first art course to engage with social context was …