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One of the newest building of Goldsmiths College - opened in 2008

The same university, similar courses, so what's the difference, you might ask. Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (the last three words, however, were dropped from the name after the merger) was established in 1896 to provide specialist art teaching for workers in the craft industries and is a direct outcome of the Arts and Crafts movement founded by William Morris and John Ruskin. Artist, craftsman, and socialist himself, William Morris once said: "We learn to live and live to learn". Today Central Saint Martins is regarded one of the leading art and design colleges in the world and I would argue that it is due to the principles expounded by the early socialists who saw learning as a two-way process for self-realisation and transformation. It is their hands-on approach and learning about the world through a variety of technical skills that is at the core of its success. So, if you want to become a fashion designer, you are likely to choose Saint Martins, as besides the skill it also offers a broader context for understanding art and design practices. Besides fashion, Central Saint Martins offers a mixture of courses from fine art, photography, and stage design to interactive and industrial design, and even drama and curating.

Under the University of the Arts London are also found the Chelsea College of Art and Design (now known as Chelsea) and the Wimbledon School of Art (now Wimbledon), both well respected colleges for design and fine art. Wimbledon might be less known internationally but nationally, at the undergraduate level, it is considered as a pre-eminent school for classical art education. In recent years the curriculum has been extended to include courses in digital media, broadcasting, animation, and even sonic arts.

At Chelsea, which is located next door to the Tate Britain, one can learn fine art and curating as well as graphic, interior, and communication design. Within the new structure of University of the Arts London, Chelsea and Wimbledon have been joined by the Camberwell College of Art located in South London. They have jointly established the CCW Graduate School that brings together postgraduate studies and research, building upon ideas of 'teaching through research' and 'research through teaching'. The school will open this September, so its impact is yet to be seen. Even so, from the description we can already sense the same, two-way approach to learning and teaching that reflects William Morris's and socialist ideas, such as knowledge to be discovered in exchange between teachers and students rather than students being taught some precooked ideas and the assumption that people essentially have to educate themselves, if for no other reason than that no one can learn for you.

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