Students at The Northern School of Art are very happy with their experience of higher education according to a leading independent survey of recent graduates.

Results from this year’s National Student Survey (NSS) show that the School’s university level campus in Hartlepool is the best in the north east for overall student satisfaction ranking at the top of all the region’s universities and colleges.

The overall satisfaction level of The Northern School of Art’s students has also increased to almost 92% from 90% in 2018, against a backdrop of a decline in student satisfaction in almost half of the UK’s universities and colleges.

The independent annual survey of final-year undergraduate students is one of the key indicators of how students rate their time in higher education.

It runs across all publicly-funded higher education institutions in the UK and was completed by more than 300,000 final-year students in the UK in 2019.

The Northern School of Art’s Principal, Martin Raby, said the results were a testament to the dedication of all of the School’s staff: “As a specialist provider we focus very clearly on the quality of our students’ experience. The latest NSS results are a result of our concentration on providing students with a good deal – not only good access to specialist facilities, but receiving more contact time with tutors and great support from well-qualified technicians or student support staff.

“Our staff see students as creative individuals and use their wealth of industry experience to guide students’ development throughout their time with us, with the ultimate objective of working in the creative sector, which is a key outcome for all our graduates.”

Students who have just completed their final year at The Northern School of Art include a delighted Joanna Rowling, 21, below, from Silsden near Skipton in North Yorkshire, who has just graduated with First Class Honours in her BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation with Design degree.

Joanna, who secured a job working on the CBBC show The Dumping Ground before she even graduated, said it was the close-knit nature of the course that influenced her decision to come to The Northern School of Art.

“I liked the fact that it was a small course which meant that we had a lot of contact time with tutors.”

A big theatre fan, Joanna’s final project featured costumes she created for a stage adaptation of The Borrowers set in the 1950s, and says she found the opportunities organised by course staff for students to get backstage work experience really useful.

This included a stint on the outdoor spectacular and historical epic production, Kynren.

“I also volunteered at theatres in my summer holidays and worked on an indie film which involved leading a team of fellow students and making 14 pairs of 1950s dungarees.”

One of the highlights of the course for Joanna was the hat-making module as “millinery is a key skill to learn for the costume design industry.”

Having enjoyed the course, Joanna’s advice to future students is to “Enjoy it! It goes really quickly.”

Tracy Thomas, 51, from Stockton has also just graduated with a First Class Honours in her BA (Hons) Photography degree.

Tracy embarked on her studies after a friend prompted her to further her love of photography and enrol on a course.

“I was at a crossroads in my life so I decided to go for it. I took my portfolio along to an interview at the Green Lane campus for the Access course and they suggested that I applied for the degree course at Hartlepool and I was accepted.

“I’d always wanted to film and be a camera-person when I was younger but I wasn’t academic so I didn’t pursue it. I’ve always had a camera and this has always been what I loved but I never thought I could do more with it.

Tracy, who was also awarded the School’s Anjool Maldé Photography Award, which celebrates the best talents in photography, in the School’s end of year Awards ceremony, added: “The course has been amazing, just incredible. My advice to anyone in the same position I was in is don’t think you can’t do it. I haven’t followed the conventional path but I’ve proved that I can.”

The Northern School of Art is the only specialist provider of creative courses in the North East.

In addition to its top ranking in this year’s National Student Survey, it also has a rating of Gold in the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework which means its students receive some of the highest quality teaching in the UK.

Places for September are still available on the wide range of creative courses the School offers. For further details visit www.northernart.ac.uk