Qantm may be a new name here in the UK, but it’s actually got a longer history – and is part of a greater network – than may be initially apparent.
Originally established in Brisbane, Australia in 1996, the Qantm project was a collaboration between six universities who pooled their resources to create a specialist training facility for graphics and 3D games. The collective fell on financial hard times in 2004, however, and were soon bought out by the SAE institute, a multimedia and music production network of schools currently comprising of 46 centres in 21 countries across the world. A re-jig, relaunch and several Australian training awards later, the school started its global assault, now featuring facilities in Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Singapore, Dubai and a plush new centre in Islington, London.
In terms of offerings, Qantm’s courses can be divided into three levels: individual modules, one year Qantm-certified diploma courses and two-year BA and BSc degree programmes validated by the University of Middlesex – with a further masters year available through its relationship with SAE. The modules are sold individually in order to appeal to industry, says Qantm marketing man Nic Oliver.
“It’s aimed at the corporate side, for updating and fine-tuning skills,” he explains.
“So, for example, if someone’s in the web industry as a website coder, what they could then do is come in and learn the latest CSS 3 or ActionScript 3.0 – or, for a game specific example, XNA.”
Of course, those modules can, if desired, be built up towards one of the other awards. But the thing that Qantm prides itself on most is its flexibility to adapt to changing industry needs, something that it thinks traditional University courses find a much harder process.
Says Oliver: “Mainstream universities have a very inherent problem with updating their curriculum, because they have to go through updated validation processes and such that can take up to three years. But our course structure, the way we run things, means that if something new is released tomorrow we could have it in our course in a matter of weeks.”
That’s not to say that Qantm thinks it’s better than all University courses – Oliver admits that there are a selection of good degrees and masters courses out there, in particular Hull’s masters degree – but the problem is the many other courses that have sprouted up recently.
“A lot of Universities seem to be just renaming current courses – like computer science or media courses. They just add the ‘game’ in the title,” he warns. “But I think there are very good courses out there, and the Skillset academy is starting to work on that.”
Thinking along those lines, though, brings about the question of how exactly Qantm is in a better position in terms of providing a rounded education, especially seeing as it’s a private institution. The answer, it says, is in its academic board. Made up of key names in the UK development industry (the individual names of which are sadly still unannounced at the time Develop went to press), it can make sure that the courses – from individual modules through to full blown degrees – are fully relevant with what the development industry needs.
It’s all well and good saying all of this, of course, but Qantm knows that the only way it can really show people what it can offer is by getting them in there, and to that extent it offers free workshops on a regular basis to get people in the door, but to also spur people into wanting to study 3D and games.
“There’s a lot of people that miss out on the opportunity to do this kind of course at school these days, because schools aren’t well enough equipped to teach 3D and games effectively,” says Oliver. “Simultaneously I think they don’t think it’s important enough to be teaching these kinds of skills. So by providing workshops, anyone from 14 through to 110 can come in and get an idea of this sort of thing, and it’s a good way to build up their skills when they’re still studying or working.”
In fact, the college is so determined to get young people thinking about studying these fields that it’s already working with schools to teach these workshops on-site, to “introduce it into the curriculum.”
And the future? Oliver says more courses, but still sticking with the digital media sphere. The next course that it’s to launch is the Game Audio Production programme, which Oliver explains came about through observing the industry, which is how the school will continue to develop its offerings. “We’ve taken that advice on board and produced the course based on what they think is important. We’ll keep up with what the industry needs.”