NAFAE is the national subject association for Fine Art in Higher Education

Posted: 28 Jun 2015
By Maggie Ayliffe
Subject Association

NAFAE is the national subject association for Fine Art in Higher Education. We have a key role within CHEAD (the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design) and we give a voice to UK Fine Art Education in ELIA (European League of Institutes of Art). NAFAE is aligned to PARADOX, the European network for Fine Art Education, and our members work with their steering group to ensure mutual awareness and updated knowledge of the changes to Fine Art teaching and research across the European area. NAFAE maintains close ties with the  GLAD (Group for Learning in Art and Design) and with the NSEAD (National Society for Education in Art and Design). As such we are the only subject association dedicated to Fine Art Education.

Our members have input key roles in advising on a range of national initiatives affecting the sector; including QAA provision and FHEQ benchmarking. We had an active role in the build up to the Research Excellence Framework, working alongside other subject associations across Art and Design to promote balance in the appreciation of practice and influence tenor of impact and environment measures. We continue to advocate for the subject area and for the focused disciplines that compose the Fine Art landscape. We have been active champions for Fine Art in the face of changes to FE funding and the diminishing support for foundation level learning. We have advocated and campaigned for maintaining a basis for craft education in Schools and reinforcing the creative curriculum. These are ongoing and complex matters that demand committed argument and a robust voice from the community of Fine Art educators working at all levels of provision. We have recently joined NSEAD and HEAD Trust (Higher Education in Art and Design) in lobbying parliament on the essential values of creative learning in Schools and post-compulsory education. We need to work together and support colleagues right across education to make sure that the traditions and innate qualities of Fine Art training and learning can benefit generations into the future and can reach the broadest cross-section of society possible. It is our duty to ensure fair and democratic access to Fine Art education for all in society who seek its privileges. We have a task to attend to in fighting for the core content of the Fine Art curriculum and rebuilding the confidence of our sector in all of its forms and manifestations. We remain committed to the cause of defending Fine Art as a source of education and learning and as a source of cultural equality across our communities. At the same time, our key purpose is the debate and development of Fine Art education and research, as an evolving discipline, for and with the membership.

Our goal is a subject association membership representing every Fine Art programme in the country. Our programme of annual conferences and symposia create an important forum for discussion and practice exchange centred on the development of Fine Art pedagogy. We need to be prepared for continuing change at both micro and macro levels. We have witnessed continuous and significant change in the past 20 years as art schools merged with universities, modularity affected the form and content of teaching delivery and as the REF and the emerging PhD culture affected our thinking about Fine Art practice as academic research. We can and should be prepared for many more changes.

The current steering group are keen to develop the role of the subject association and to assert its status as the foremost site of debate, information and policy influence relating to Fine Art Education.

This academic year we are in the process of revamping and organising our web site and we have already planned our annual symposia for Fine Art Educators for January 22nd, 2016; "The Hidden Curriculum". We are planning our second symposium for Fine Art Research Degrees in March 2016. We have initiated an Open Letter to the Academy, supporting networks of graduates in joining the debate on the future of Fine Art education. Members of the steering committee are working closely with European colleagues throughout the PARADOX conferences for 2015. Going forward, Middlesex University will host the 2017 Paradox symposium and NAFAE will collaborate by organising a significant national forum to complement that event.

We are inviting you to renew your subscription or become a member of NAFAE at this important and exciting juncture in the organisations development and because we want to hear voices from across the sector. Fine Art education in general faces severe cuts and challenges to well established and proven creative pedagogies; it is time for us to form strength through association and celebrate our collective worth and true values.

There are two types of membership currently available:

  • Institutional membership costs £150/annum and entitles up to 5 members of staff to attend NAFAE events free of charge.
    Membership of subject associations is audited as part of the current QAA review process and is therefore important to your institution as well as yourself.
  • We recognise, however, that not all colleagues are permanent members of staff in HEI's and to support you we have also introduced an individual membership that costs £30/ annum (£20 students/artists).
    This also entitles you to attend our events free of charge.

Membership of NAFAE also gives you a significant discount on subscriptions to JVAP the Journal of Visual Arts Practice.

To join NAFAE and attend our forthcoming symposium please use the link below which will take you to our website and membership page.

If you would like any further information please contact me at


Maggie Ayliffe, NAFAE Secretary