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It's no secret that institutions of higher education, fashion or otherwise, saddle their students with tear-enducing amounts of debt. On top of that, finding a job after graduation isn't getting any easier. However, as Suzy Menkes points out in her latest article for Vogue, the staggering amount of debt that fashion students are forced to take on has gotten so bad across the globe that the next generation of fashion wunderkinds might be forced to call it quits before they even begin.
Menkes speculates that Alexander McQueen, son of a British taxi driver, would probably not have been able to make it through Central Saint Martins in 2014. She also recounted a conversation with the late CSM fashion design professor, Louise Wilson, who partially placed the blame on the rise of foreign student enrollment:
"With her familiar expletives peppering the conversation, Louise railed against the influx of foreign students, helpful for paying the college bills, but too timid, too founded in their own culture and language, for their professor to be able to cut them down brutally—and then watch them flower."
On the other hand, the pressure to obtain at least an undergraduate degree in the design field is still just as intense. In America, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco is the largest private art and design school in the United States. Its current enrollment stands at 18,000 undergrad and grad students, but the school hopes to expand to 100,000 students within the next five years.
The expansion is largely expected to come from their online degree program, where the lower costs per course are meant to offset the skyrocketing costs of attending a brick-and-mortar university. Despite the more accessible price, Menkes wonders if the quality of an online education will match the training that students get in the classroom. "So here is the BIG question," Menkes writes. "Can the computer cut the cost of fashion schooling and create a virtual studio in a 21st century world—in an industry where touch and feel are as crucial as the look?"
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