Oxford the new High Wycombe?

There was quite an uproar when Bucks New University announced it was closing entry for its Furniture Degrees. Quite rightly as the Alumni is a who’s who of professionals in the furniture industry and High Wycombe has a long association with furniture making. The decision has also annoyed parts of the industry the BCFA included as there was no discussion or consultation with the very businesses that employ the graduate out take.

2013-07-04 15.42.04

There was mention by the University that the National School of Furniture (a partnership with Bucks and Oxford City College) would continue to offer furniture education and skills training. How this will happen now seems quite clear in a press release issued by Oxford City College.

Students wanting to follow an undergraduate route to training for the furniture industry will continue to benefit from a partnership programme offered in Oxford. The National School of Furniture is a partnership between Bucks New University and City of Oxford College, part of Activate Learning group (previously Oxford & Cherwell Valley College).

City of Oxford College runs two undergraduate courses – the Foundation Degree and BA (Hons) in Furniture Design and Make (Top-up) – from the college’s campus in Oxford city centre.

The courses (previously offered by Bucks)  will however continue to run at City of Oxford College, which will also serve to maintain the National School of Furniture brand and High Wycombe’s historical connection with the furniture industry.

2013-07-04 12.49.13

Chris Hyde, head of learning for furniture at City of Oxford College, said: “Our partnership with Bucks New University, delivered through the National School of Furniture, provides high-level training and industry-leading qualifications for those pursuing careers in furniture design and making. I am pleased to confirm that the undergraduate courses will continue to be delivered in Oxford with applications now open for the next academic year.”

“Our link with Bucks New University not only provides validation for these courses, but also offers students opportunities for further progression. Past undergraduates have progressed to the MA in Art and Design Practice at the University, graduating with distinctions and going on to work within the furniture industry.”

Students who are already studying the undergraduate furniture programmes at Bucks New University will continue to be taught until the end of their courses, and new applicants are being invited to apply to study at City of Oxford College.

There are 15 Universities and Colleges in the UK offering furniture courses and the BCFA supports them all in their endeavours to keep furniture design and making a key skill.



  • peter keeen

    Wycombe is/was the history of furniture making

    • Colin Watson

      Hello Peter

      I quite agree and how this has all come about is very poor. Spoke with Steve Baker the local MP this morning and the University say it is lack of demand and the students say it is poor marketing of the courses. Somewhere in all this lies the truth.


  • Margaret Jenkins

    There were only three problems – firstly poor management, particularly at middle level. Results – no strong (interactive) links with manufacturers, craftsmen and designers, no attempt to put together a structured continuing body of knowledge and skill, no strong and well-supported collaborative, enthusiastic, loyal and dedicated teaching team (just individuals) – either within the department or between courses, no support/guidance for continuing staff training and education. Secondly cost-cutting. Furniture plant, machinery,tools are costly to maintain,replace, insure, and monitor, materials are also costly. They also require dedicated space. If a university has to save cash it will look at its most expensive departments or courses. Thirdly – staffing is always a problem. Trained teachers and educators with experience in every aspect of furniture – design, craft skills, CAD etc.applications, economics and finance, business studies, structure of trade and industry – its organisation and management…- are hard to come by, and even more difficult to weld into a loyal, friendly and cooperative team.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *