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My visions for the Faculty of Creative Industry: an interview with Peter De Deckker

by Yvette Maurice

Peter De Deckker is the new Head of Faculty of Creative Industry at Open Colleges. With decades of experience in both teaching and design, Peter shares his visions for the faculty, the creative sector and the future

A little bit about my background

I am a registered architect, educated in Belgium. After a decade of designing every type of building, schools, churches, offices, retail, residential, hotels and airports – you name it – I’ve done it all, I decided to try my hand at teaching.I was invited to teach interior design at Canberra Institute of Technology, so that’s how I started my career in education.

Prior to my position at Open Colleges, I was the Head of the School of Design at the University of Canberra. I was also the Assistant Dean International, which saw me travelling intensely around Europe and Asia. Before that, I was the Dean of The Faculty of Design at the Canberra Institute of Technology.

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Northbourne Avenue in Canberra

At the beginning of my career

Actually, I wanted to become a Graphic Designer! However – my father decided that that wasn’t what he had envisioned for me. Back in those days, parents had more says as to what their children could undertake as a career. In fact, my great-grandfather was an architect, so that’s why I decided to go down that path.

The role of “the designer”

When you are a designer – you are a problem solver. You always have to fix a problem for your client. Perhaps you need to design a whole house, or simply fix a laundry, or come up with a creative extension. The advantage when you become a manager is that you become well aware of how to fix problems. And that’s why I love it.

My beginnings in design

I arrived in Australia in 1983 – just over 30 years ago – and I was immediately engaged by a company in Canberra to design office blocks. In those days, Canberra was experiencing a boom which ended up lasting 25 years.

I was responsible for designing most of the office blocks on Northbourne Avenue in Canberra (Northbourne Avenue is a major road in Canberra. It extends from City Hill in the south to the Federal Highway in the north). This was quite an interesting period of my life.

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Northbourne Avenue in Canberra

I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities in Europe. In Europe in those days, (a young architect) wouldn’t have had a chance to design until they were well over 50. One advantage we have here is that Australia trusts young people, and believes in young people.

My vision for the Faculty of Creative Industry

Well, I arrived at an important time. My main aim is to continue to create a great team and to make sure everyone in the faculty has the support they need. I also want to make sure that we continue to focus on professional development.

I also want to grow the faculty, to introduce new programs and perhaps a series of short courses which could become pathways into accredited courses.

We might even expand into building design, landscape design…perhaps even graphic animation. We might even develop courses in clothing design, specifically menswear, children’s wear and other types of programs for fashion.

You may see quite a broad array of new, exciting courses that would appeal to students – this is our vision.

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One of Peter’s early designs

The strength of my team

All our trainers and assessors are professionals in their areas of speciality. Many of them have simply years or even decades of experience in their fields. They are there to transfer their knowledge, rather than to simply “tell students what to do.” They are there to guide the students in a more personal way. We want to develop our students with their individual personalities, towards their future careers.

Why I am excited to be joining Open Colleges

This is an amazing place to work! Advances in technology have really improved online learning dramatically within the last 15 years. I think that Open Colleges has gone a long way in mastering the delivery of online learning.

Students can now get the knowledge they want in their own time, at their own pace. Also – the support attached to our courses is phenomenal. The student support is fabulous – and very quick. I have seen quite a lot of really good results for our students.

Want to find out more about the Faculty of Creative Industry?

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