Creative Industry Programs for Asian Students
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Creative Industry Programs for Asian Students

The creative industries are particularly important to developed economies. When a nation is in the throes of development, manufacturing and infrastructure take precedence. But there comes a point at which a national economy begins taking broad steps towards becoming a producer of ideas rather than mere brick-and-mortar merchandise.

The buzzword here is ‘knowledge-based economy’, in which knowledge is one of the central tools of production. Economists have been pointing to China’s recent progression from a manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy for years now, and especially since the West lost its footing in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. Some countries, including Japan and South Korea are even a few steps further ahead and have progressed to the level of a flat-out ‘knowledge economy’, in which knowledge is a product rather than a tool.

Nations across Asia stand at the cusp of this distinction. As knowledge becomes a central component to production – both as a tool and as an end result – the creative industries begin to take off. This is why institutes of art and creativity around the world are seeing an influx of Asian students showing interest in their programs.

In 2008, China Daily quoted Ya-Qin Zhang, the then-and-now corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group (ARD): “If there is one thing that China needs to work on, it is encouraging creativity in young people.” In the years to follow, students all over Asia have answered this call. University programs are being developed, transcontinental partnerships forged and professional networks extended all over Asia.

Indeed, this is an exciting time to launch a career founded on ideas and expression in the Asia-Pacific region.

Creative opportunities opening for Asian students

Students of the creative arts are often misunderstood – sometimes even discounted – by their peers and family members. Detractors point to difficulty in finding employment, especially in today’s less than robust global economic climate. However, all it takes is a cursory look at the numbers to see that firms are indeed hiring scores of designers, writers, artists, actors and other creative minds. The key to rapid uptake and success is finding a university with after-graduation employment statistics to rival its studio offerings and world rankings.

Many of the best schools for the creative industries are found in the West, particularly in North America and Europe. Australia is also a strong proving ground for creative types, and its position on the doorstep to the Asia-Pacific region makes it particularly attractive for aspiring creative industries students in Asia.

Currently, one of the most exciting global trends involves East-West partnerships. Institutes that host creative industries programs around the world are accurately aware of the spike in interest from Asian students. In an eagerness to expand their own offerings, many of these schools are drawing up alliances with universities in major Asian cities. This takes many forms, ranging from joint degree offerings to dynamic foreign exchange arrangements. In any case, students from both sides of the globe benefit from the opportunity to expand their professional networks.


Pic: SAE Institute students.

These following are among the most appealing creative industries programs for Asian students:


The International School of the Creative Arts (ISCA) is a one-of-a-kind operation run in association with the University of Arts London (UAL), Europe’s leading arts and design university. The school targets students aged 16 to 19 and preps them for a dynamic career in the creative arts. International students who enrol at such an early stage in their education are ideally positioned to become leaders in the world of 21st-century creative arts and design. A day and boarding school based in Buckinghamshire, ISCA aims to nurture young, talented artists and prepare them for entry into a top university. In fact, every student is guaranteed a course interview with one of the six UAL colleges. This is an outstanding head start to complement the world-class education enjoyed by ISCA students. Read the full profile here…


Edinburgh Napier University’s School of the Arts and Creative Industries is a leader in the UK, with more than three decades of experience and a sterling reputation in the creative arts industries. Course and degree offerings span acting, design, English, film, journalism and music. To those who insist that creative arts are more of an indulgence than viable career option, Edinburgh Napier University answers with strong employment figures. More than 93% of all School of the Arts and Creative Industries alumni find employment within six months of graduation. Combine this with the long list of awards and accolades regularly bestowed upon Napier’s creative arts students, and Napier easily emerges as a global leader in this industry. Read the full profile here…


Pic: Edinburgh Napier University School of Arts and Creative Industries.


Australia’s leading sound engineering and digital video production institute has gone on to become a world-leader as well. With more than 53 campuses spread across 27 countries, SAE Institute has become the largest educational provider in multimedia, game design, audio engineering, 3D animation, digital film-making and music production. For students in Asia considering a creative career in these fields or looking to boost competencies in a current profession, SAE Institute is a natural short-list candidate. The institute has a strong international presence, with campuses in Singapore, Kuala Lampur, Bangkok, Chennai, Jakarta, Mumbai, Bangalore and Yangon. And for students in search of a more fully Western atmosphere, the institute’s international headquarters in Australia is still in the neighborhood. Read the full profile here…


This creative arts institute has more than 150 years of tradition behind it, and it currently operates world-class studios and facilities across five campuses in the UK. This university is a world player in terms of creative productivity. It has been responsible for celebrity fashion designers, Turner Prize nominees and Oscar-awarded filmmakers. For students in Asia eager to fast track their creativity development, the University of Creative Arts is likely to continue delivering industry movers and creators for years to come.


Duncan of Jordanstone is a world-renown creative hub with dynamic international networks. There are few institutes that offer the caliber of creative-arts development that DJCAD is known for. In recent years, the college has been awarded more accolades by the London New Designer exhibition than any other art institute or university in the UK. Add a Turner Prize for Art to the mix, and it’s clear that DJCAD is a worldwide leader in the creative industries.


The Faculty of Fine Arts at York University is a North American leader in interdisciplinary creative industries education. The coursework spans art criticism, history and theory. York University is located in Toronto, Canada, a city famous for its arts culture and dynamic mix of Asian and international cultures. Art galleries and a thriving film culture characterize this city, and students have the opportunity to build strong international networks while studying here.