Charlotte Carter joined Birmingham City University’s School of Fashion and Textiles to study BA (Hons) Fashion Design with a Foundation Year in September 2020. Charlotte gave us an insight into her first year at BCU, the balance of remote and on-campus teaching and shares her advice for students who are beginning their journey at university soon.
What were your expectations before starting your foundation year at university?
After having several years off from education, I was ready to start my next chapter. However, I did have some uncertainties with the pandemic as I had applied for the foundation before any of the lockdowns began and I was worried that my university experience wouldn’t be how I had planned it would be.
I chose to do the foundation year because I wanted to get myself back up to speed with the different skills and processes and get used to being in an educational environment again. More than anything I wanted to get my confidence level up to a point that I felt prepared to go onto the degree course.
The first few months were a little overwhelming, but overall it’s been a great experience. I was able to learn many new skills within a short time frame, whilst also getting to know new people.
What has the balance been like for remote learning vs on-campus teaching?
Before Christmas was probably my preferred balance of the two, as we were able to go into the university twice a week to use all of the equipment and then socialise during break times whilst being socially distanced in the communal spaces.
We then had one online day a week, where we looked at the theory side of the course, this worked well as it wasn’t something that we necessarily needed to be on campus for. Being online once a week has also given us more opportunities to have both individual and group tutorials where we can get feedback or ask for further support with our assignments.
During lockdown in January to March, we had to switch to remote learning. This did, of course, have its challenges but I feel really lucky that from April we were able to get back onto campus for practical workshops.
How much of your course is practical and how much is theory based?
I would say it’s approximately 70% practical and 30% theory based. Every assignment is split into a physical final outcome/sketchbook and then a blog. The majority of the work is practical and then within your blog you discuss your outcomes and bring in some theory-based research to support your outcomes and overall narrative.
What has been your favourite project you have worked on so far?
The very first project Fashion and Textiles Skills and Processes has been my favourite! We were given access to many of the different rooms where I was able to experiment with and learn new skills and processes, including using a table loom in the weave workshop, embroidery machines, many different print processes in the print workshop, along with multiple hand embellishment techniques. Within the second and third module I was also given an introduction to CAD (Computer Aided Design) which I found extremely useful, and I will be able to take those skills with me onto the BA Fashion Design.
How would you describe the community in the School of Fashion and Textiles?
When we started in September, we were split into class bubbles. We’ve supported each other and really felt like a team whilst being on campus, and also when in lockdown and we could only see one another through our laptops.
On the foundation course, you do need to think for yourself and keep on top of your own workload, but there is always lots of support from the tutors who are always more than willing to give further guidance and support to push you and your work on to the next level.
What advice would you give to students who are starting university soon?
Don’t hold back, embrace it. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and give everything a go. Ask for help if you need it, don’t stay silent. Keep on top of your work, don’t leave anything to the last minute. Plan everything. Have fun!