Educational Partnerships in Africa
University of East London • Durban University of Technology
Graphic Design Incubator Project
Funded By The British Council
Project Managers: Piers Carey (DUT) and Tony Hudson
Presentation: Rowan Gatfield and Piers Carey
Draft Business Plan
This project links the Department of Visual Communication
Design at Durban University of Technology (DUT) with the
“Continuum” unit for Widening Participation at the University of
East London and the “ Creative Way” Lifelong Learning
Network, which specialises in the Creative Industries in the
Thames Gateway area in England. This presentation reports
on the progress to date.
The project intends to establish a working Graphic Design
Studio within the Graphic Design Programme, at BTech level (
= Honours), to provide Work Integrated Learning and real
experience for students. The intention is to establish work in
the studio as a successful educational element in the
programme, which will enhance employability and
entrepreneurial skills amongst our students. Secondarily we
intend that it should provide third-stream income and stimulate
research within the department.
The Context for Work-Integrated Learning
in South Africa
Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is now a requirement in all courses
at South African Universities of Technology (UoTs), in order to
enhance employability and promote entrepreneurship.
These are of critical importance in a context of:
the AIDS Pandemic and numerous health issues;
declining aid flows and global recession;
40% (?) unemployment;
declining academic preparedness amongst school-
financial hardship amongst potential and current students:
ignorance and/or negative perceptions of the DUT and the
Widening participation in Graphic Design in the SA context
particularly depends on tackling at least the last three factors.
The WIL Status Quo
Difficulties with the Standard Placement Model:
Graphic Design Industry rejects Work Placement.
Local Graphic Design businesses are small
(typically 1– 10 personnel).
They cannot spare staff to mentor or supervise.
Investment of time and energy in a short-term
placement is seen as wasteful.
The Graphic Design Programme’s Response
Industry simulation WIL model:
Industry representatives set, mentor, and criticize
projects in collaboration with lecturing staff.
Students work with practising Creative Directors.
± 80% of applied projects in Third Year.
Garth Walker Design, Disturbance Design,
Amnesty International, the Sunday Tribune,
Mr. Price Stores and House and Leisure
Objectives of this Project
To establish a work integrated learning environment
for Graphic Design Education that attempts to replicate
a real time/ real life, Graphic Design and Advertising
business experience. This includes student engagement
with all spheres of the business, including final
production processes and day to day management,
thereby increasing employability and facilitating
To broaden relationships with employers through
mentorship and design brief exchanges.
To generate third stream income for the DUT and for
To broaden relationships with industry suppliers and
To serve as a research and development testing
Objectives of this Project
To preserve the integrity of the DUT and the
Department of Visual Communication Design through
sound business practice and conduct.
To generate capital to sustain the studio beyond the 18
To establish relationships with employers, the two
target academic institutions, the DUT and UKZN, and
clients by Dec 2009. This will be achieved through a
series of launches and a promotion campaign.
DUT faculties and departments requiring non-corporate
visual communication and design, in strict adherence to
the DUT’s Corporate Identity Specifications.
University of KwaZulu Natal and Mangosuthu University
of Technology: faculties and departments requiring non-
corporate visual communication and design, again in
strict adherence to Corporate Identity Specifications.
NGOs and non-profit organizations,
Advertising and Design Studios – mentored ‘agency brief’
projects online logo, illustration
and photography bank
Strategically the target clientele is structured to
circumvent conflicts with industry and the DUT’s Design
Studio role as a profit generating concern
The studio will aim to offer quality visual
communication design, servicing the greater Durban
It will position its price point competitively in the
marketplace. However profit margins will not equate to
that of industry given the slower turn around times of
Lecturers will continue to facilitate learning and
assessment and to offer necessary tuition.
The studio will also undertake to avoid conflicts of
interest with employers and the Graphic Design and
Advertising Industry wherever possible, and would
prefer to take a ‘supportive’ position. This could
include assisting on pitches, over-flow work, taking
Primary: Below-the-Line Media including packaging.
Secondary: advertising, online publishing, new media;
ambient media, environmental design, information
design, illustration and in-house photography.
Possible: Digital video and editing, stop frame and
Flash animation, and interactivity. Specialist skills and
product development depending on student research
Online logo, illustration and photography bank.
Large format and A3 digital printing service for
students and staff at the DUT, dependent on funding.
The purchase of this equipment will not only remove
the need to outsource digital proofing from the studio,
but will serve as a very necessary source of income to
First commitment is to education
A generalist service offering.
The Studio is well positioned to begin campaigning to assist in
2010 Soccer World Cup pitchwork and related briefs as of
The studio will be situated within the BTech (Honours) Year
framework. A combined wealth of knowledge concerning the
running of a Graphic Design Business exists amongst DVCD
staff. The staff are well placed to facilitate: research, product
development and issues relating to the day to day supervision
of the studio, regarding business, creative direction, print and
Low overheads and small accounts
Protected working environment
Building the Studio’s brand in association with the DUT
brand offers advantages and disadvantages.
Recent negative publicity surrounding the DUT brand
concerning safety and stability does pose some significant
The DVCD has worked hard to raise its profile in the
public eye and has achieved many recent accolades, being
recognized as Institution of the Year for 2006 and 2007 at
the South African Sappi Think Awards.
The branding, marketing and communication, and service
delivery of this fledgling brand will need to be that much
more assertive and precise in order to sustain growth.
A South African studio for a South African Market place.
Marketing Strategy Perceptions
The Graphic Design and Advertising Industry Perception
The studio positions itself in a supportive role.
It should be perceived as supporting the industry; a potential
source of fresh and innovative ideas; an opportunity to
contribute to education; a welcome addition when work loads
A mentorship programme could be developed to strengthen
relationships between students and potential employers, and to
encourage industry support and participation. The studio could
also be seen to be providing a research and development
Marketing Strategy Positioning Platform
A funky, young, distinctively South African, conceptually,
strategically, craft driven, student focused, design and
advertising studio that serves to close a longstanding gap in
graphic design education at the DUT.
Knowledgeable about both the Youth Market and previously
Marketing Strategy - Competition
The immediate competition are those in DUT and UKZN that
are producing visual material informally, i.e. outside the
structure of the Corporate Identity programme, and not through
internal design services or external design studios.
Vega Brand Communication School – to a small extent given
that many studios in Durban facilitate, internships and work
integrated learning focussed projects, with Vega students.
Internal design studios within NGOs and tertiary institutions
Xerocopy Centre at UKZN
Marketing Strategy - Pricing
The studio aims to match the lower end of
professional/industry pricing structures, but understands that
students will take longer to produce the same solutions. To this
end prices quoted will not match time spent.
Pricing does play an important role in this strategy but not at
the expense of good education opportunities. Customers should
ideally feel that they are receiving a quality solution for slightly
more than they expected to pay. This position is based on a
common perception by the public that student work is cheap.
After much consideration the Loft on the second floor of the
City Campus has been chosen as the proposed location for the
studio. The Interior Design Department has agreed to run a
student project to offer interior design solutions to the studio
layout and aesthetics. The space will need to fulfill key
The work experience should be reflected in the space, true to
those spaces in industry.
Creative professionalism, a little intangible, yet professional.
Earmarking a customer parking space on the south side of the
The fact that the DUT’s Design Studio is on another campus
assists in psychologically separating the two service offerings.
Role Players & Significant Milestones
The Business Plan has been informed by engagement with
various industry, legal, education, business and administration
advisors both in South Africa and the UK.
1/07/09 FACE Conference
20/07/09 Develop Brand Identity and Stationery - Student
17/08/09 Interior Design - Rob Garrett’s Design Proposal
31/11/09 Relationships with employers and clients established
1/12/09 Launch to DUT
05/01/09 Doors Open
30/02/10 Launch to Industry
Marketing Strategy Primary Communications Message
“Build graphic design education by giving us your advice,
support, and business. The advertising and design industry,
and the tertiary education fraternity in Durban have a key role
to play in facilitating experiential learning.”