Preliminary Study

Making Differences: Swiss Art Schools

Making Differences: Swiss Universities of the Arts, initiated by the Institute for Art Education at the Zurich University of the Arts wished to investigate the often subtle “distinctions” (Pierre Bourdieu), that is, the inclusions and exclusions produced and reproduced in the institutional field of art universities.

Who studies at Swiss art universities? Does the diversity of the student body reflect that of the Swiss population or are some groups missing? Does the university create inequalities or does ‘talent alone create equality’? Even without solid statistical evidence, the probability that the findings of an analysis done by the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, can be adapted to the situation in Switzerland is likely: “Studying art is an elitist event”.1

The Bildungsbericht Schweiz 2010 (the 2010 report of education in Switzerland) thus finds that the parents of slightly more than 50% of students studying art, theatre and music have a university or higher education degree. (At other universities of applied science that number is only 30% and at universities 46%.)2
From our perspective it was worthwhile to explore this further: analyse the complex configuration of inequality and create strategies to challenge the status quo of the higher art education system. Extensive research and surveys have not been done yet, either in Switzerland, or, as far as we can tell within Europe, apart from the long-term research on the effects of the so-called “widening participation” activities within higher art education in England.

Making Differences: Swiss Universities of the Arts, initiated by the Institute for Art Education at the Zurich University of the Arts wished to investigate the often subtle “distinctions” (Pierre Bourdieu), that is, the inclusions and exclusions produced and reproduced in the institutional field of art universities. The parameters of the field of interest have been fixed in an explorative study and the appropriate networks created for further research co-operations on a national and transnational level. Over and above that an empirical basis for prospective studies has been created through both quantitative and qualitative surveys.

Preliminary study (in German)

  1. Jakob Krameritsch: Zusammenfassung: Bewerber_innen-Befragung am Institut für Bildende Kunst 2009 von Barbara Rothmüller. Wien 2010, pp.2
  2. Studieren unter Bologna. Hauptbericht der Erhebung zur sozialen und wirtschaftlichen Lage der Studierenden an den Schweizer Hochschulen 2009. Ed. BFS (Bundesamt für Statistik). Neuchâtel 2010, pp.25. – The recent survey „Bildungsbericht 2010“ indicates that in comparison 36% of the students at the Universities in Switzerland have a fatherly academic background. Cf. Bildungsbericht 2010. Ed. Schweizerische Koordinationsstelle für Bildungsforschung. Aarau 2010, pp.204.

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