Swedish digital media school opens branch here

SWEDISH digital media school Hyper Island - known for sharpening advertising and communications talent for the industry - has opened a branch in Singapore.

Dubbed the "digital Harvard" in creative circles, it will start classes next March for industry professionals and those seeking a career change, at its leased Alexandra Road premises.

It decided to open a branch here this year after it was approached by the Economic Development Board (EDB) in 2010, said its Singapore managing director, Ms Christina Andersson.

Founded in 1996 in Karlskrona, Sweden, it also has branches in Stockholm, New York and Manchester, and offers both vocational training for students and workshops for executives.

The Singapore branch will be no different. On top of training executives, it will enrol students for its full-time, year-long specialist diploma programme for producing marketing content online.

The interactive art director course will cost $23,000 - the same as at its other branches.

From July, it will roll out its master's programme in digital media management - a degree granted in partnership with Teesside University in Britain.

EDB's executive director for professional services, Mr Kelvin Wong, said it sought out Hyper Island because of the school's "close industry linkages" and potential to "strengthen Singapore's talent in the marketing and communications industry".

At Hyper Island, unlike at other schools, grades are not a big factor in the admissions process - one needs only O levels and three years of work experience. Applicants are instead tested on creativity to gauge their potential for innovation.

With each class capped at 25 students, applicants are also put through personality tests to ensure a wide range of backgrounds and temperaments.

There are no essays and grades at Hyper Island, where learning by doing and from peers is key, said Ms Andersson.

The school has no permanent teachers. Instead, it invites industry professionals to run workshops where students work on projects based on real-life briefs given to creative firms - complete with budgets, deadlines and "horrible clients who change their minds".

With the rapid changes in digital media, using industry veterans to teach students will ensure that what they learn is up to date and relevant to the local context, said Ms Andersson.

The school also requires students to serve a 15-week industrial attachment. About 98 per cent of its graduates find jobs before or shortly after graduation, and about one in 20 goes on to start his own business.

Singaporean advertising executive Pebbles Lim, 32, who studied at the Stockholm branch last year, said it widened her perspective and career options.

After learning project management, strategy and business planning, she is now an associate creative director in Stockholm at Swedish digital marketing firm Morgenland. She was formerly a regional art director at Ogilvy & Mather here.

Mr Robert Gaxiola, an American who runs his own ad firm Mangham Gaxiola and has spent 15 years in advertising here, said: "Some agencies I know in Singapore have sent senior people to the school for training.

"In Singapore, our future is going to be in digital and integrated creative work. Hyper Island is exactly what we need."

mattchew@sph.com.sg


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