If you have recently enrolled in an art college, or are considering doing so in the future, you probably want to know more about the academic majors in this field and the job prospects for graduates of art colleges.
In this article, Al-Fanar Media brings you the basic features of this academic field in Egypt and some other Arab countries, based on the experiences of art academics.
Fine Arts Studies
Yasser Mongy, an art historian and assistant professor at Helwan University’s Faculty of Fine Arts who is currently seconded to Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University, described the different departments within the Faculty of Fine Arts. They are photography, sculpture, architecture, decoration, graphics, and art history. At Helwan University, some of these departments are decades old, since the faculty was founded as the Egyptian School of Fine Arts in 1908.
Faculties of Fine Arts in Egypt admit graduates from both the scientific and literary divisions of Egypt’s high school system to most of their departments. Fine-arts students pursue a five-year bachelor’s degree, starting with a preparatory year, then four years in their specific major.
Architecture is limited to graduates of the scientific division only, and specifically the mathematics division.
“Based on my current experience at Sultan Qaboos University, I found the same knowledge taught to students or graduates in Egypt, Iraq, and other Arab countries. It employs the same methodology as that delivered to Omani students. Graduates also work in the same fields.”Yasser Mongy, an Egyptian scholar of art history who is currently working in Oman
Decoration departments have different admission requirements from one university to another. Some of them admit students from both high school divisions, and some accept graduates of the scientific division only.
Applied Arts Colleges
Faculties of applied arts are another option for Egyptian students seeking to study art. These colleges offer five-year academic programmes in 14 departments, which are:
- Photography, cinema and television.
- Printing, publishing, and packaging.
- Interior design and furniture.
- Industrial design.
- Metal and iron furniture and constructions.
- Metal products and ornaments.
- Glass products.
- Sculpture, architectural formation, and restoration.
- Textile weaving and knitwear.
- Textile printing, dyeing, and processing.
- Ready-made garments.
Weaam El-Masry, a teacher in the Faculty of Art and Design at October University for Modern Sciences and Arts (MSA University), believes that studying applied arts requires students to have high skills in drawing and imagination, or to have an intense love for art so they can develop their skills and communication abilities with their minds, hands and eyes, to be able to process what they see, to produce an artwork.
Faculties of Art Education
Faculties of art education in Egypt are open to high school graduates from either the scientific or literary divisions.
These faculties usually have six departments. Mohamed Mostafa El-Naggar, a teacher of metalworking in the Department of Artistic Works and Folklore at Helwan University’s Faculty of Art Education, said those departments are:
- Decorative designs.
- Visual arts (drawing) and photography.
- Stereoscopic expression (this includes the divisions of sculpture and ceramics).
- Artistic works and folklore (this includes five divisions: artistic works, printing, textiles, carpentry, and metalworking).
- Art education sciences.
- Criticism and artistic appreciation.
El-Naggar points out that it takes five years to get a bachelor’s degree in art education, in one of two majors: art teaching or art education specialist. Graduates of this college are qualified to work as art teachers for different age groups in schools and other educational institutions or in museums and cultural hubs, to educate visitors through art workshops and events.
Art education colleges are keen to empower their graduates with academic-related skills, and the ability to transfer these skills to students, as the educational and pedagogical aspect aligns in those colleges, says Mongy.
Specific Education Colleges
Art education departments in Faculties of Specific Education differ from those of art faculties, since they offer classes limited to art education. Other departments in Faculties of Specific Education typically include:
- Music education.
- Educational media.
- Educational technology.
- Home economics.
- Educational and psychological sciences.
In Egypt, these departments admit high school graduates from both the scientific and literary divisions.
Mongy, who is currently working as an assistant professor of art education at Sultan Qaboos University, believes that what the colleges of specific education offer more is the presence of departments that teach psychological aspects of education. He points out that all art colleges require students to pass an aptitude test before being admitted.
Teaching Arts in Arab Countries
About art education in other Arab universities, Mongy says that based on his experience, he does not see any significant differences from one Arab country to another.
“As a result of art development, the content itself has become one, in the world and at Arab universities,” he said. “With the credit-hour system, differences have been significantly removed, and so we cannot say there are differences in the teaching methodology from country to country. Only cultural differences remain, in terms of each society’s customs or traditions.”
“Studying arts prepares graduates to present artistic products used in the daily life since the college blends art and job.”Weaam El-Masry, a teacher in the Faculty of Art and Design at October University for Modern Sciences and Arts
He added: “Based on my current experience at Sultan Qaboos University, I found the same knowledge taught to students or graduates in Egypt, Iraq, and other Arab countries. It employs the same methodology as that delivered to Omani students. Graduates also work in the same fields.”
Mongy also noted that the museum movement in the Arab world is largely linked to education.
Mongy worked as a research consultant for artwork documentation and historical writing at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, in Doha, between 2014 and 2015. This museum is an educational facility, he said, as a large number of its visitors are school and university students.
As art enters into new aspects of people’s lives, the types of job opportunities available to graduates of art colleges have become numerous, Mongy says.
He pointed to newly emerging jobs in journalistic preparation and equipment, graphic work, decoration, architecture, and sculpture. The latter category is seeing a field renaissance, as commercial centres are keen to acquire sculptures, he said.
Weaam El-Masry, who holds a master’s degree in decoration from Helwan University’s Faculty of Applied Arts, said: “Studying arts prepares graduates to present artistic products used in daily life since the college blends art and job.”
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