AND Academy: Forging Better Design Careers Through Industry-Relevant Training

AND Academy
AND Academy

Design education in the post- pandemic era has undergone a transformative evolution, adapting to the changing landscape of learning and design itself. The challenges and opportunities posed by the pandemic have ushered in a new era of design education.

AND Academy, a pioneering institution in the realm of design education, was born out of the need to adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic. The academy stems from the innovative minds behind the Indian Institute of Art & Design (IIAD).

AND Academy’s actual journey started in 2020 amid the pandemic, quite some time before it was founded. Indian Institute of Art & Design (IIAD), AND’s sister concern, was faced with the significant challenge of remotely teaching a hands-on discipline like design. This led its faculty group to break studio-based design education down into its component pieces and reconstruct a remote delivery solution that was equally engaging and effective.

With this success under their belt, key members of the IIAD team founded AND Academy in early 2022. The aim was to provide a world-class design education online and help meet the rapidly growing demand for high- quality talent in the areas of Graphic Design, UX UI Design, Motion Graphics, and Interior Design. In a short span of time, it has already touched the lives of 300+ learners from all over India and also from some other parts of the world.

Making Design Education Accessible

AND was birthed with the vision to make design education accessible, affordable, and industry-relevant so that it can enable successful career transformations for those pursuing it and, in turn, create a supply of high- quality talent for the design industry.

AND’s choice of the online mode of teaching maximizes geographical access, while flexibility in terms of mode of study (part-time/full-time), duration, and class timings, along with AND’s policy of not requiring any prior training or experience in design, creates access for the widest set of learners.

Its commitment to affordability is fulfilled through the availability of easy EMIs and scholarships, which has resulted in the majority of its learners hailing from Tier 3 or smaller cities.

The industry relevance of its curriculum and teaching-learning methods underpins its career transformation promise.

Fuelled by Passion

Dr. Jitin Chadha and his core team have been in the education sector for nearly two decades now. They are fuelled by the passion to create access to education of the highest standards here in India and have gone about it by forging international collaborations with pre-eminent global institutions.

This journey started with the Indian School of Business and Finance (ISBF), which partnered with the London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of London. This aligned with the founder Dr. Jitin Chadha’s postgraduate training in Economics and Finance from Warwick University and PhD in Finance from the University of Delhi.

AND’s founder continued with this approach at IIAD, which collaborates with Kingston School of Art, London, one of the UK’s top design schools.

AND Academy is the beneficiary of its learnings and the transfer of best practices from both these earlier ventures.

Uplifting Design Education

A keyway in which AND Academy is uplifting design education in India is by making high-quality courses accessible to students from the remotest parts of India. The fact that nearly 40per cent of its learners come from Tier 3 or smaller cities bears testimony to this. Besides, its learners pursue an industry-relevant curriculum that has been developed by design experts and learn by working on multiple projects that culminate in a market-ready portfolio.

As a result, its graduates are trained to think like designers and solve business problems using design. This enhances their career prospects significantly compared to just being able to operate design software. Its dedicated Career Services team also plays an important part in providing the last-mile support needed for these career transformations, and it even offers learners a Job Guarantee on several courses.

World-Class Remote Education

AND Academy’s biggest challenge was delivering world-class design education remotely. It was solved by the founding team even before AND was born. Thanks to its curriculum design and pedagogical expertise, the academy has been able to overcome the two well-known challenges for remote learning courses- low engagement and completion rates. In fact, several learners from reputed brick-and-mortar colleges have called this their best-ever learning experience- a huge testament and validation for AND Academy.

Another interesting challenge, and one that is still a work in progress, has been that a lot of learners, when they first enquire about the courses, seem to merely be looking to learn to operate design software. They are completely unaware of the immense career potential they can unlock by learning to think like a designer instead, so the academy counsels and educates them about this.

The academy does not require learners to have any prior training or experience in design, and its courses are stackable, meaning that one can start with the basic course and then top up one’s learning to intermediate and advanced levels if one wishes. As a result, its learners come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Catering to a Diverse Base

The academic background of students of AND Academy ranges from commerce, engineering, and design to economics, political science, and literature. Forty per cent of AND academy learners are working professionals, with experience varying from 1 to 10 years. Geographically, the academy gets as many learners from small-town India as it does from the three metro cities of Mumbai, Delhi NCR, and Bengaluru.

AND’s overarching USP is that it enables design career transformations for its learners. Everything else flows from this. First, there is its industry- relevant curriculum, curated and updated by professionals at the cutting edge of design, which is a prerequisite for facilitating a major delta in learners’ careers. Then, there is the decision to teach exclusively through live, interactive sessions and extensive project work, which is needed to ensure high-quality design outcomes and market-ready portfolios.

Voyage to Highly Rewarding Careers

The ‘last mile’ of its career transformation promise is facilitated by a dedicated and expert career support team. What is more, the academy even offers a Job Guarantee on several courses. This means that learners can get a full fee refund if they are not placed in a relevant role, at an assured minimum salary, within six months after completing their course.

In fact, in the latest round of placements, the average salary offered to its graduates exceeded the assured minimum Job Guarantee package by nearly 70per cent And that is just the tip of the career transformation potential its learners are equipped with.

Design has always been a highly rewarding space, but it is even more so in today’s world, with rapid digitisation creating opportunities at an exponential rate. There could hardly be a better time to explore the field of design, and areas like Graphic Design, UX UI Design and Motion Graphics in particular.

So, if anyone is an aspiring designer, they should be observant and curious. They should be very sure to not limit their pursuits and skills to merely operating design software since that would impose a very low ceiling on their career trajectory. Besides, the world really needs authentic designers who can use their own thinking to solve problems and not just follow others’ instructions.

Transforming Careers

AND academy intends to stay focused on design since this has been validated by the market in the form of a robust start to its journey. The academy wants to grow within this rapidly growing discipline and become a leading provider of high-quality design education in India, hopefully touching the lives and careers of about 10,000 learners in the coming five years.

The academy is also keen to take its proposition to global markets, perhaps first to Southeast Asia and then to OECD markets. As it does so, the academy will further refine its curriculum, its teaching-learning methods, and its career support, which underpin the academy’s promise of transforming its learners’ design careers.