The British Academy of Graphic Design - any good?


Has anyone does a course with the British Academy of Graphic Design?

It seems they were only set up this year, but they do BTEC’s which I am keen to do, as I can’t find a BTEC for graphic design (that isn’t for under 19s). But their website and tutors don’t seem that impressive.

Am I better off teaching myself online or doing an Adobe Professional Certificate (Illustrator).

Any thoughts much appreciated

I know almost nothing about this “academy,” but over the last several years, a glut of private online schools for graphic design have appeared. They’re leading to a glut of inadequately trained designers who will likely never find steady, well-paying work in the field since they’ll be competing with better-trained, in-person university graduates.

In the US (where I live), a BTEC diploma is more or less the equivalent of a 2-year Associate Degree in a technical field of some kind. Here, this isn’t usually enough to easily land a graphic designer job in a field that is increasingly requiring Bachelor’s degrees. However, it is often enough to land a job in a related field, such as print production or sales when combined with experience, interest, and aptitude.

Much depends on your interests, though. If you plan on becoming a professional graphic designer or art director, I’d recommend a university education. If your interests run more toward the technical aspects of production (or something similar), this online school might be OK.

First, I’ll make a disclaimer: I’m skeptical of online programs. Some fields might lend themselves to online learning, while others don’t.

There are two separate and important aspects of graphic design. The first is learning to see, think, and solve visual communication problems like a designer. The second is learning to use the tools (nowadays, mostly software), along with the technical aspects of the job, whether it is coding, preparing artwork for print, or something similar.

I can imagine learning the technical (software) aspect of graphic design online. However, I can’t easily imagine learning to see, think, and solve problems like a graphic designer online. To me, it’s the equivalent of trying to learn to play the piano or learning ballet online. Learning the basics from self-directed study or through online courses might be doable, but advanced and deep learning takes place when directly interacting with instructors and fellow students in person. There is no equivalent online substitute for that in my opinion.

You mentioned teaching yourself online. The trouble with this is you don’t know what you need to learn, so you’ll end up focusing on what interests you or what you naively think is important. You’ll inevitably end up with huge gaps in your knowledge. An Adobe Professional Certificate is mostly a useless credential that says you’ve learned the ins and outs of using specific Adobe software programs. Working through one of these courses, is probably a good way to gain experience in using Illustrator, but learning how to use software is not the same as learning design.

  • The Adobe certificates are worthless, unless you plan to become an educator in that Adobe program. They test to see if you know what all the tools in the program do. They don’t test the important skill sets for being a designer, namely, your knowledge of design history, your knowledge of aesthetics, or your ability to critically evaluate design and solve client problems. Knowing the proper use of a saw or hammer is a different than the ability to design buildings.

  • as far as teaching yourself… there’s a lot of self education that people in this profession have to do. It’s ongoing and it lasts a lifetime. If you are starting off as a beginner it’s best to get a good foundation through formal education in a live classroom with real people sitting next to you. I say that as a former university lecturer and someone who taught classes through distance learning.

I signed up to it in June and started the course early last month. So far it’s a complete shit show. The website doesn’t work, links don’t work and when I emailed and messaged the staff about it I got no response at all until I said I was getting concerned as the course had some bad reviews about people being frustrated that they had 0 communication and the course was taking up to years longer than it should to complete due to this and it was proving to be true.

They then sent an email instantly (no joke - I pretty much instantly had responses from two people after being blanked for three weeks). They promised to get in touch with IT and see what the issue was with the website and missing links and it hasn’t been solved since and I’ve had no response since. This was almost 2 weeks ago.

The tutor doesn’t respond either - however he was the other person who responded instantly when I said I was getting very concerned. I posted my first mini-submission and got a response asking me to provide clearer images of what I had submitted so he could give me proper feedback. I responded within 20 minutes and again it’s been almost 2 weeks since last response. I’ve sent another message asking if he could have a look at it and got absolutely no response.

I worked it out that if I kept going at this pace (one mini-submission each month (and that’s if they magically give feedback today and not wait any longer) It should take me around 3 years to finish the course when it says online you can do it at your own pace and it takes UP TO 3 years. I don’t have this kind of luxury - I was aiming to do the course in the evenings and weekends and finish it within a year. But with one response in an entire month I don’t think it’s possible. Absolutely fuming and disappointed is an understatement. Take your money and time elsewhere!!!


You should be asking for a refund and reporting them to the authorities involved.

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^^^ THIS!

I searched for “British Academy of Graphic Design” on Google. At least for me, here in the States, this thread appeared on the first page of the search results.

I think it’s fair to assume that almost everyone thinking about enrolling will perform a similar search, so this isn’t very good advertising for them. A representative from the school is more than welcome to respond if they want to do so.

Really sorry to hear about your experience, that sounds awful. I hope it improves. I did fear that it didn’t seem like a new set up that hasn’t run before. Let us know if it gets better. I hope you get a refund if you’re not happy with it.

It’s gotten a little better. There seems to have been some change in their response time and they have finally put the links up that needed to be put up, and I have received feedback that’s been useful. Still very unsure how I feel so far but it seems to be getting better.
I did think there’d be some videos with tutors explaining things or something tutor-related, but the lessons are pages of text and images with the occasional video with a scripted voiceover (there’s been two 3-min ones so far over 13 topics). Completely fine, just not what I expected for a 3k course. I guess that might be my fault for not knowing what to expect and just assuming there would be tutor-lead videos within the lessons.
I will say though, I have learnt quite a lot and the library is useful.
Here’s to hoping the first few weeks were a hiccup?

I’m glad things have gotten better, but I would recommend speaking to graduates about their experiences before enrolling. Likewise, I’d probably snoop around on LinkedIn to see what type of jobs these graduates are working in.

Hi all

Thanks for your responses to this thread. BeccaMae, how have the last few months been for you?

I am considering enrolling in their Postgraduate Diploma through home study. I’ve been working in editorial and production roles for the last 8 years and want to start developing my design skills to take on more design and typesetting work. I don’t anticipate working on any complex digital design work and will likely stay in print publishing, but I would like to build a better foundational knowledge that I can use to develop myself creatively. I’m a very proactive and independent learner so think I could get by with little tuition. The course will be paid for by my current employer as well so I do not have any strong concerns about it being a waste of money.

Based on your experience do you think I should look elsewhere or might their approach actually suit my needs?