Alternatives to university

Alternatives to university

By NellFrizzellIdeasTap 13/10/11

Bill Gates, Jon Snow, Walt Disney and Woody Allen did it. Steve Jobs, Edward Albee, Richard Branson and David Bowie did it. Of course, we’re talking about not going to university. Today there is a whole host of creative, dynamic, flexible and cheaper alternatives to traditional higher education. Here are some of the best options...

The School of Everything

Creative entrepreneur Dougald Hine has proved that the internet is about far more than just holiday photos and dogs dressed as burgers. His School of Everything is an online network that brings together hungry people, teachers, learning resources, venues and events, so you can “learn stuff” at your own pace and in your own way. For more information, take a tour.


The University Project

The University Project came out of an urge to reimagine and reinvent the whole idea of university. Based at Hub Westminster by Trafalgar Square, they are offering a heckload of lectures, talks and experiments. So, if you’re London-based, check out the blog.



What’s all this? A National Youth Theatre repertory company? Anna Niland, NYT Associate Director, explains all: “As a response to the increase in university and drama school student fees, and comments from leading industry figures that drama schools don’t always equip their graduates in a way that prepares them for employment, we’re designing a new bespoke year-long training that will launch at the start of 2012. While not a like-for-like alternative, we hope to contribute towards meeting the urgent need for free, high-quality routes into the industry, that equip the most talented young performers for careers in theatre, TV, radio and film.” Watch this space for more information.


School of Communication Arts

If you want to get into the world of communication, arts and advertising, an academic qualification will only begin to scratch your surface. So, the School of Communcation Arts, set up by the brilliant Marc Lewis, offers truly vocational training in three strands: Copywriter, Art Director and Ideapreneur. SCA gives you an intensive year of learning before sending you on guaranteed work placements at top advertising agencies. Or, if you prefer, you can grab up to £10,000 in funding from an investment fund to start your own company.

To find out more, visit the website


Learning without frontiers

As they put it, Learning without Frontiers is “a global platform for disruptive thinkers, innovators and practitioners to share knowledge, ideas and experiences about new learning.” Combining handheld learning, game-based learning, amazing talks and a whole calendar of events, it’s definitely worth taking a look at the website.


Hyper Island 

Imagine school, if school was incredibly freaking cool, all over the world, you wanted to date pretty much everyone involved and it never smelled of watery cabbage. Well, Hyper Island is that: a new way of learning for a social media industry and age. Visit the website


Arts Awards

Arts Awards are a way for anyone between the age of 11 and 25 to get recognised credits, eventually leading towards your UCAS tariff. There are no entry requirements or set time limit for completing the award and you can access the programme through a whole load of schools, colleges, arts projects or youth clubs near you.


No Institute

A group of five artists are researching, developing, acting upon and disseminating strategies for free education and blogging the results here. Find out more, as well as information on what’s happening, for free, near you on their blog.


Open University

Because there’s more to this fine institution than watching a televised lecture on isometric projectors through an alcohol-sodden haze at 5am. With its flexible learning structure, you can do anything from introductory courses (starting at £120) to a PHD. See the website for more information. 


Any other ideas? Leave a comment below.


Image by Suzanne_C_Walker available via Flickr under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

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