New NUA vice-chancellor aims to build Norwich’s creative arts reputation

Prof John Last from Norwich Universtity of the Arts (NUA). The university has been named The Times a

Prof John Last from Norwich Universtity of the Arts (NUA). The university has been named The Times and Sunday Times University of the Year for student retention. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A Norwich college that has gained an international reputation in the creative industries is set to be taken over by a new leader. 

Norwich University of Arts has appointed Simon Ofield-Kerr as its new vice-chancellor to succeed Professor John Last when he retires in 2021.

Norwich University of the Arts. Picture: Owen Richards

Norwich University of the Arts. - Credit: Archant

Mr Ofield-Kerr, who will take up the role in the spring, said only NUA could have tempted him away from his current job as deputy vice-chancellor at the University of the Arts in London.

Prof Last joined NUA in 2009 and in his more than decade in charge has led the institution to achieve university status in 2012 and become world renowned for training talents in everything from computer games design to fashion. 

Students face online learning at Norwich University of the Arts despite practical subjects like text

Students in textile design at Norwich University of Arts. - Credit: Archant

When he took over as vice-chancellor of the then Norwich University College of the Arts, he was told by a colleague it was a 'hidden gem'.


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“But the clue was in the word 'hidden', not in the word 'gem',” he said. “'We were in the city, but somehow hidden from it.”

Since then much of Prof Last's work has been in raising the visibility of the now-university – forging links between education and enterprise and driving Norwich's reputation as a centre for the digital creative industries on a national scale.

The Norwich Arts University catwalk show took place, as part of the four-day long event from Graduat

Norwich University of Arts graduate fashion catwalk show. - Credit: Archant

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One of the UK’s leading specialist arts, architecture, design, media universities, its graduates regularly go on to successful careers across the creative arts from fine art and film to photography, games and visual effects.

Returning £17m a year to the local economy, NUA also supplies a stream of talent to Norwich's burgeoning digital, creative and tech industries.

Simon Ofield-Kerr has been appointed new vice-chancellor at Norwich University of Arts.

Simon Ofield-Kerr has been appointed new vice-chancellor at Norwich University of Arts. - Credit: NUA

Mr Ofield-Kerr said: “NUA is a remarkable institution and community, which has achieved so much over the past 10 years and has positioned itself beautifully for the next phase of its ambition. 

“I am looking forward to getting to know my new colleagues, our partners in the city and to engaging with the challenges and opportunities of the region. 

Louise Fitzgerald is graduating from Norwich University of the Arts' illustration course. Her collec

Louise Fitzgerald graduating from Norwich University of Arts' illustration course in 2019. Her collection of reusable products was inspired by plant science research at the John Innes Centre in Norwich.  - Credit: Denisa Ilie

“NUA evidently has the potential to demonstrate that creative arts education is fundamental for imagining and creating a world in which 'building back better' has never been more important.”

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