To address both a talent shortage and a perceived lack of premium career opportunities within the fashion retail industry, the Fashion Retail Academy (FRA) was established in 2005 as a private-public partnership with investment from the retail industry matched by government.

In 2017, the FRA partnered with Falmouth University to develop brand new degree-level provision. All the courses are delivered in 2-year, accelerated format to enable students to complete their studies more quickly and graduate with less debt. The courses are delivered by the FRA in Central London, with the degrees awarded by Falmouth University; the university has been ranked gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework, the new classification of degree teaching standards.

“Our partnership with the Fashion Retail Academy is the embodiment of Falmouth’s commitment to ‘Doing it for Real’. This principle, we believe, is both a powerful antidote to applicants’ growing concerns around value for money and indebtedness but also the best way of equipping graduates with the skills and capabilities they are going to need to thrive in the future economy.” Professor Geoff Smith, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Falmouth University

Lee Lucas, Principal of the FRA said that the partnership between the Fashion Retail Academy and Falmouth University has “brought to fruition undergraduate and postgraduate courses to solve the skills gaps anticipated and identified by the retail industry.” Lee added: “Our courses are conceived and developed ‘with industry, by industry and for industry’ to provide a talent pipeline which serves the needs of contemporary retail and ensures our graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge to futureproof a career in a sector that is transforming at a fast pace.”

Over fifty fashion retail companies were involved in the development and detailed design of the new courses. As a result, students acquire the very latest skills, knowledge and insights that industry demands. They also benefit from industry mentoring, masterclasses, live projects, exclusive Head Office placements with high street fashion brands and a guaranteed job interview.

Ezra Brown, BA (Hons) Buying and Merchandising said: “The chance to network with industry professionals is an opportunity that I wouldn’t get otherwise. Dean Cook, the Buying Director of Browns Menswear, is my mentor and I am amazed – I would never have had the opportunity to even meet him! I am really enjoying how interactive the course is. We don’t know what each day will have in store for us, as we are working on tasks with live fashion retail research as it happens.”

Falmouth and the FRA have also collaborated closely with industry on the development of a new degree apprenticeship standard in Buying & Merchandising. The trailblazer group, chaired by Lord Stuart Rose, includes representatives from the breadth of the retail industry – from retail giants, to SMEs and digital disrupters.


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.