Schools and Festivals

Schools and Festivals: Festivals as norm-referenced assessors of Animation Programmes


The Animation Festival Circuit and Animation Education have always been closely connected. Both have developed from the practice of independent animation filmmaking. The intimate network of people working in both areas informed and kept both areas abreast with developments in the practice. Over the last 50 years, both these establishments have grown considerably in size and have acquired their own sets of modifications.

In the UK, as part of the government’s initiative to widen participation in Universities, the 1960s saw the number of universities more than double from 22 to 46. From 1992 onwards, a further 72 were added. 1 There are currently over 150 universities in the UK.

In 1950, just 3.4% of young people went to university in the UK. The participation rate among people in the age group of 17 to 30 years is now at 50%. From just 4 animation programmes offered in the UK in 1995, there are currently over 40.

While widening participation has given a broader section of the population access to higher Education in the UK, these changes have also had counteractive effects on the quality of the education being offered, specifically reduction of state funding and the application of several standardization measures.

The standardization first began with the absorption of polytechnics and colleges into the university system and then went onto admission procedures, administration processes, modular teaching methods, learning and teaching assessment methods and the rating and assessment of the universities themselves.

Following a paper presented last year at SAS that looked at the criteria for assessing the quality and standards of Animation programmes in the UK, and as part of a series of papers that outline possible methods for the survival of independent animation programmes in the UK, this paper will examine how one of the standardization measures; university rating systems have indirectly rendered the fundamental role of the animation educator as assessor of students’ progress redundant. The paper will consider how the Animation Festival Circuit might operate as a more appropriate method for the evaluation of student work.