On the spot: NMIT vs RMIT

20 12 2013

I was recently asked by a potential jewellery student for some advice about choosing between RMIT and NMIT.

BIG question.

So I thought I’d reproduce (without the parts personal to the original enquirer) my answer here, in case it’s of interest to others.

First things first: this conversation was only about these two schools, but it should be noted that other options are available (see this post) with the other most formal established school being Monash.

So … what was my answer?

It’s a tricky topic and one that everyone would answer differently.

I’m happy to give you my personal opinion, but it’s only mine and from my experience, and certainly not the gospel; the final decision can only be yours after all.

As a caveat though, (as you probably read on my blog) I did the RMIT course but it was years ago now (2004 – 2006); the course seems to be a little differently structured now and the projects different. To be quite honest, I didn’t know about NMIT when I applied to the university courses; I’d not lived in Melbourne before and only knew about Monash and RMIT. So I made a choice between those two (at the time I wanted to do a ‘university fine art degree’), based solely on how the interviews felt and what I thought of their graduate exhibitions and facilities. I loved RMIT but was happy that I had done jewellery evening classes beforehand, otherwise I’d have been under-prepared skills-wise.

On to RMIT vs NMIT:

Did you have a chance to see the graduate exhibitions? They were quite different and probably the most excellent demonstration of each school.

Did you have an interview at both schools? Perhaps you got a ‘gut-feel’ for the one that suited you best and felt right?

Each course seems to me to have quite a different focus – NMIT is known for being technically focused and connected to industry, and RMIT more conceptually and contextually focused. That is not at all a criticism, but a description of their historic evolution.

NMIT used to offer an evening or part-time stream (they may still?), which is helpful if you need to work during the day to fund uni.

If a student was really serious about jewellery or metalsmithing as a career, I’d personally recommend starting at NMIT to get a good grounding in technique and handskills; then going to RMIT if they’d like further artistic development and the international connections that university offers.

I have known a number of students who transferred into 2nd year RMIT after 1st year at NMIT – and that seemed like a good way of doing it (though that was a few years ago now, you’d best check if that’s still possible).

Another option may be to learn some handskills before you start either course.

One is the MADA (Monash) summer intensive. I’ve not done this before, but it looks like a great introductory option. http://artdes.monash.edu/fineart/shortcourses.php#

I’d also recommend Northcity4 classes (the people here are lovely), but the timing may not work with starting a uni course; though there’s no reason you couldn’t do both if you wanted to! http://northcity4.com/beginners-jewellery-2/

I hope that’s helpful. Most of all though I hope that I haven’t made it more confusing for you!

Best wishes for your decision and best of luck in your future – I’ll keep an eye out for your name in future exhibitions!

Everyone’s view on this would be different I expect.
The more views potential students are exposed to, the more informed their decision can be.
Please contribute and share your thoughts too.



5 responses

23 12 2013
Verity Hollingworth

I did the course at NMIT part time over 5 years – for 3 years I did 2 evening classes a week and for the advanced part of the diploma I did 1 day per week for 2 years.

I really loved every minute of it and I’m very sad that I’ve actually finished! The facilities are fantastic and I learnt a huge number of skills. Every teacher I’ve had has been wonderful and I’ve felt very supported. I’ve also gained a lot of insight as to what it’s like to actually work as a jeweller. And the campus is a lovely place to be!

I would be very happy to do this course all over again!

24 12 2013

Thank you Verity.
I’ve never heard a single bad word against NMIT!

1 12 2014
RMIT reduces hours, again | Melbourne Jeweller

[…] reduction in contact hours will only reinforce the generally held opinion that RMIT is not the place to learn technical skills, but is where you go after you’ve […]

17 05 2015
Cathy Van Den Essen

This is a very personal decision, l study full time at Monash Uni when it was still in Frankston, in 1991. I found that it focused on the design aspect more than the technical. Leaving me feeling that l still have so much to learn, about making jewellery. My timing was not so good, it was the last year of the main lecturer, and my second year in, l had a student from RMIT as our main lecturer, so he was finding his footing and getting use to his new role. They were both good teachers, but l don’t feel like l got their best performance. I felt that RMIT was very archecticially focused and l was much more organic in my design, which is why l choose Monash. MNIT sounds like it is for the person that would like to learn the technical side of metal smithing, now in hinde side l wish l got the technical skills first, as it would have made my jewellery journey easier. I can design but l can’t’ always put it to practice. No matter how good you are, there will always be new things to learn, and different opportunities to learn from. Choose the course that suits you, go in while they are working and see what their teaching technics are, find out as much info as you can so you can find the right course for you. Good luck .

17 05 2015

Thank you so much for sharing Cathy. You’re absolutely right, it’s a completely personal decision … and in fact much of mine was based on how I felt at each interview, it was completely a matter of intuition.

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