It is slightly different here, in that, we don’t have private design schools. Degrees still come from traditional universities and accredited courses (as far as I know). What is happening is that more and more squeeze is being put on them as the government continuously reduce funding and increase student fees, that the universities are forced to get private sponsorship, which, in turn, introduces different influences.
When I went (I think, around the same time as you), most kids got some sort of grant, on a sliding scale, with parents expected to contribute, more, or less, depending on their income, down to zero for parents on the lower end of the income scale. This meant that students usually graduated without debt – depending on how much they like beer!
Now kids are coming out with debts upwards of £50k. That, to my mind is immoral. The ethos here, used to be that a government invested in the education of its nation and reaped the dividends later. A while back, I read somewhere, the government get an average of £250k more in tax over a working life from a graduate, than they get from non-graduates. Enough to find a margin to invest a few tens of thousand. Now, I am sure the amount is the same, they just passed the debt on to kids. Anyway, I can bore for Britain on this (don’t even get me started on the continued erosion of the National Health Service).
Like you, I went to college right on the cusp of the Mac becoming a thing. We were given cursory instruction. Thankfully, I saw the writing on the wall, so spent many many evenings staying late and teaching myself to use it.
I am also glad of those hours spent burning the midnight oil with a Apple Macintosh IIse, as 18 months into my first job, the company I worked for at the time bought a Ilcx. (What a beast; I am sure there was at least a whole meg of RAM installed on it.) I was the only one in the company who knew anything about it.
I was lucky in that I went to a good college, that constantly had well-known industry specialists come and teach us various disciplines. Even then, as you say, the dinosaur of academia was consistently about five years behind what was going on out in the industry.
That said, I am also glad I had the benefit of learning the whole casting-off and type galleys malarkey, for two reasons. Firstly I needed it in my first job for the first 18 months and secondly, those hours of hand-rendering 11pt Bembo gave me an understanding of type that has developed into a life-long love – I can spend hours kerning letter pairs and refining curves to the Nth degree!!
On the other hand, I am not sure an exclusively digital, on-screen only approach to teaching type instils the same understanding of the beauty of letterforms, apart from for a few natural-born type geeks. The quality of type-setting out there, appears to be generally pretty poor, and declining, these days – I am not going to even begin on the quality of spelling and grammar, (I sound like such an old fart ‘The country’s gone to the dogs, its not like it was in my day.’)
I know a guy who used to be a book binder at one of the pre-eminent letter presses over here – sadly now defunct. He keeps showing me examples of type setting that are jaw-droppingly stunning. All done when people were physically hand-spacing every single letter. Unbelievable.