This is the AKI

At AKI we believe that the gap between thinking, saying and doing should be as small as possible. We are just there to further your ambition, to develop your talents and professionalize your competences*. May this be with paint, ideas, photography, film, concepts, design, sculpture, clay, wood, typography, drive, words, passion, philosophy and so on.

We offer three bachelor courses: Crossmedia Design, Fine Art and Moving Image to add a clear sense of structure, but we prefer to front the power of a small scaled academy which has a commonly shared perspective on individual development. The autonomy of spirit enables you to be certain enough of your own capacities to share with others. 

It is, and always should be all about you. We expect you to be unconditionally driven because what you have to say, think or do is very relevant. This means that whatever you want to achieve is very relevant as well. You hate it – or you love it for life, that is a promise.

The AKI is the smallest academy in the Netherlands, established in 1949 but formed in the ’60s and still dedicated to its founding principles: providing an individualized education with a minimum of structures and control systems and focused, instead, on the human dimension and students’ and instructors’ own initiatives. AKI is part of the ArtEZ University of the Arts, but it also greatly values its autonomy as a small academy. Education is created on the work floor.

And that is not all that common in today’s climate, where statistics and standards have become ever more determinative in education. But we believe that this is not what design and art education should focus on most. Our curriculum revolves around fully supporting each student’s individual development: your motivation is the basis for your studies and your objectives determine the course of the programme. While we are happy to pursue the magical notion of ‘excellence’, we do not think it means fitting perfectly into the world as it stands. (Did Shakespeare’s or Einstein’s teachers recognize their excellence at the time?) We believe that excellence emanates principally from individuality and assuming responsibility and that while ‘fitting in’ is certainly a virtue, so is being a misfit. By following that clear principle, you can prepare yourself at the academy for assuming a position in your chosen profession.

You will have tremendous freedom, but we expect in return that you be disciplined; we guard against complacency.  We promote interaction between students and instructors, and each student is also assigned an instructor as a mentor. Once a month the mentor and the student will discuss his/her individual progress and focus and decide if the course load is suitably rigorous.

All of our instructors and mentors are working professionals who teach at the academy once or twice a week. The faculty is highly diverse in terms of both their work domain and their vision of the discipline and education in general. This is deliberate because we want to expose you to a broad spectrum of possibilities and visions. First and foremost, the academy is a community of designers, artists, art professionals, and students. It is an open atmosphere, where everybody learns from one another, even outside of their own class or programme. Indeed, the academy is much more than a school; it’s a way of life.

The AKI is in the city of Enschede, far removed from the urban conurbation that is the Randstad. We think it’s a perfect location, well away from hectic city life, providing ample space for concentrating on your work. Plato described the academy as a walled garden, where you can hear the noise from outside but students and teachers can still focus on their work. Nestled in that garden, you are surrounded by possibilities, insights, and cultures – but only to the extent useful, since you have work to do. (An added benefit of Enschede is that the cost of living is cheaper here, which can easily save you 150 euros per month compared to other college towns.) See also: Student life in Enschede.

The AKI is small but comprehensive, with workshops for metal, plastics, silk-screening, printing, ceramics, and woodworking. It has large format plotters, laser cutters, 3D printers, a fully equipped video, and photo studio and even a darkroom. There are also artist studios and exhibition galleries. It is nearly perfect, but if a student still needs something else, we are happy to try and find a solution. There are options for working with students from the University of Technology, Saxion University and the Conservatory.

The AKI offers three programmesCrossmedia DesignMoving Image, and Fine Art, with a range of subdivisions in each (see programme information). This provides a basic structure, but you can decide together with your instructors which boundaries you accept or ignore between, say, Art and Design or 2D and 3D – or between craft and concept.

From the very beginning, the programme focuses extensively on discussing your work and formulating critique, also in class-based lessons. You are in no way expected to hold your tongue until you know what you’re talking about. (Socrates would then have been silent his whole life.) We expect you to learn by doing. And this applies across the board, from analysis and presentation to, for instance, technical skills and positioning yourself: experimentation and investigation are essential parts of our programme. In addition to helping students develop a professional attitude, we naturally put a great deal of emphasis on instilling knowledge and expertise, from art history to 3D printing, from welding courses to entrepreneurship, from philosophy to software. Practice and theory are treated as an integrated whole throughout the curriculum.

We welcome students coming from most levels of secondary education to take an entrance exam. What we look at most is your motivation, individuality, and baggage. In certain cases, students may be enrolled in the second year of college.

If you would like to learn more about AKI, feel free to visit the academy or make an appointment. You can also start by calling or emailing a student or teacher. You can also attend a lesson on request. For more information look at the page orientation. Please email us if you are interested:

English streams: Crossmedia Design, Fine Art and Moving Image have an English stream.

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Directions Public Transport:
 Our academy is five minutes by bus from Enschede Central Train Station. A bus in the direction of Hulsmaatstraat departs every eight minutes: 
Take city bus line 2 (to Deppenbroek), or bus 60 or 61 (to Overdinkel or Oldenzaal). 
Get off at the stop Hulsmaatstraat.

Directions On Foot: 
A 15-minute walk from Enschede Central Station (1.8 km). 
Follow the pedestrian route toward Roombeek.

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AKI Academy of Art & Design
Hulsmaatstraat 35
, 7523 WB Enschede, The Netherlands
Phone: +31 53482440. Mail:

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* We handle a set of seven competencies, which – ironically, but not incidentally – have a big overlap with those that have been recently appointed by the World Economic Forum as being the key components for the future level of skilled labor.

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Crossmedia Design
Fine Art
Moving Image