Preferable Higher Design Education: Chinese Portfolio Institutions and their Implications


Hundreds of registered art and design portfolio institutions in China are facilitating students with their artwork portfolio production, predominantly for those applying to oversea art schools. This prosperous industry indicates some potential improvements in Chinese higher design education. The objective of this research is to identify reasons Chinese design students resort to portfolio institutions’ guidance rather than using their design outcomes of school courses, and how could Chinese higher education of art and design adjust themselves accordingly. The revelations are not only applying to Chinese design education circumstances, but also contributing to the studies of a broader sense of design learning population and international tertiary design education. Comparisons and discussions around learning mode, learning journey, learning outcome, pedagogy, and assessment criteria are depicting a profile of preferable higher design education. A hybrid of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies was adopted, along with literature reviews, analysis of public information of portfolio institutions, and first-hand empirical observations as a tutor in one of those portfolio institutions. Research findings show that the portfolio institutions are indeed meeting students’ needs, while other aspects such as fraudulent works, hyped market, and western-centric academic hegemony are still to be criticized. In conclusion, portfolio institutions provide indispensable services for creative practitioners which are not available in most schools, such as technical support, agile optional classes, project-oriented learning, 1V1 mentoring, etc. Art schools should enhance students’ competencies in communicative artwork showcasing, troubleshooting, research logic, and innovative thinking.


Kunxiao Du
Digital Media Tutor, Industrial and Interaction Design, H.ART International Art Education, Beijing, China


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design Education


Chinese higher education in design, Pedagogy, Design learning, Portfolio institution

Digital Media

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