The opportunity to study architecture, art or design at university feels out of reach for some young people. But the Access to Creative Education in Scotland (ACES) project is trying to change that.

The opportunity to study architecture, art or design at university feels out of reach for some young people. But the Access to Creative Education in Scotland (ACES) project is trying to change that. Working across Scotland’s four major art schools – Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at University of Dundee, Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) at University of Edinburgh, Glasgow School of Art, and Gray’s School of Art at Robert Gordon University Aberdeen –  the project aims to increase access to creative Higher Education programmes for those in target schools and young people from other under-represented groups.

Through free practical workshops, gallery visits, portfolio preparation sessions, and the chance to work with staff, students and graduates in a university setting, S4 – S6 pupils gain insight into and experience what it’s like to study at art college.

And the ACES Edinburgh programme has ambitions to grow further over the coming years.

Gary Erskine working with pupils at DeansCon 2015
Image: Hope Smith
Gary Erskine working with pupils at DeansCon 2015

“It gives the University a face – it doesn’t have a to be a big or scary place, but can become a space that they can be familiar and comfortable with.”

Jess Hume, Widening Participation Officer at University of Edinburgh

“We’re developing sessions that are about myth-busting art, design and architecture, answering questions like ‘Why study them?’ And ‘What’s available to study?’” said Jess Hume, Widening Participation Officer at the University of Edinburgh, “We tailor each session to the needs of our students, depending on their interests, their year group, and where they live in Scotland.”

“They’re able to work with new materials and learn new techniques at these workshops, but it’s also just as important that they’re meeting people who are also interested in art and design,” said Jess, “It gives the University a face – it doesn’t have a to be a big or scary place, but can become a space that they can be familiar and comfortable with.”

As well as creating opportunities for people considering studying a creative course at university, the programme is creating opportunities for students and graduates to share their experience and develop new skills. “We’re recruiting student ambassadors for the ACES programme, which will involve delivering sessions and going out into schools to run workshops,” said Jess, “So it’s a great chance for current students and graduates from ECA who are interested in working with young people.”