The Sad Reality of Choosing the Wrong Institution to Study Interior Design 

The Sad Reality of Choosing the Wrong Institution to Study Interior Design 

Interior Design is fast becoming a prevalent career choice in Tanzania and in Africa as a whole.  It is seem as a glamorous career choice, believing that designers just sit around looking stylish as they flick through magazines and scroll through Pinterest with their beautifully manicured hands.  Because of this myth, everybody now wants to become an interior designer.

Whatever your reason is for wanting to pursue this field of study, if you want to become a professional interior designer, it is important to do due diligence and explore all the educational options available, as well as the industry requirements.  Most importantly, make sure that the institute as well as courses being offered are recognised by the higher education bodies in your country.

With many s0-called institutes now mushrooming and offering this course, it was therefore important for The African Institute of the Interior Design Professions (IID), the only professional body representing the Interior Design industry in South Africa to share some pointers and a minimum checklist that prospective students should be aware of before they proceed to study interior design.

The Institute is dedicated to establishing, promoting and maintaining expertise, professionalism, sound business practice and high standards throughout the industry.

And psst …  the role of a designer involves frequent site visits, and so there is nothing glamorous about work boots, reflective jackets, hard hats and dust.  But it is ever so satisfying seeing your vision coming to life.


@Sandra Aikaruwa Mushi
Professional Interior Designer & Management Committee, IID


The Short and The Long of it 

Over the past couple of years, as the IID has grown professional membership the Management Committee, that oversees new membership applications, has been receiving more and more applications from individuals that do not meet the minimum requirements to become members. 

A very good example is an application we received two weeks ago. This person “qualified” as an interior designer having completed a three month ten module course in interior design. Wow! Why bother studying for a minimum of three years full-time when you can get the same qualification from ten modules running over a ten-week period? The sad thing is the individual paid good money to study and become “qualified”. 

When told the IID could not accept this qualification she was shattered. The Management Committee recommended she approach and ask the institution if the course is registered with the Department of Higher Education (DHE) and the Council of Higher Education (CHE).  The answer she received was the course was not recognised and all she could be offered was a certificate of attendance. At least they were honest there!! She was then told further in writing that this was an “enrichment course” and not a career changing one. Unbelievable when we consider this course is offered under the umbrella of one of the oldest red brick universities in the country, nestled under the shadows of Table Mountain. 

There are other courses that offer one year on line courses in interior design. Once completed students apply at registered institutions and want to have their work accepted to proceed in second year. The quality of work is so bad they have to start from scratch and end up in first year. A complete waste of money and a year of their lives. 

We must stop the smoke and mirrors. I have compiled a minimum checklist that all prospective students should be aware of before they proceed to study interior design; 

  • Ensure the institution is registered with the DHE and the CHE. All registered institutions are required to hang the appropriate certificate from the DHE in their foyers and use their registration number on all advertising and their websites. 
  • Ensure the institution can supply you with the South African Quality Authority’s (SAQA) National Qualification Framework to see if past students are recorded on it. You can also access the SAQA website to check. 
  • Check with the IID for recommendations. All our education members are fully registered. 
  • Check how long the institution been in existence, the older the better to give you a piece of mind when embarking on your studies. 
  • What quality assurance mechanisms are in place? 
  • Are academic staff suitably qualified? 
  • Are academic support staff suitably qualified? 
  • If possible, ask to speak to students who are doing the course. They will be likely to give you a true picture of how they rate their studies. 
  • Are facilities such as library, computer hardware and software continuously updated and relevant to industry standards? 

In conclusion I think the old saying, “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. This is your career, make sure you make the right choices. 


by Prof Des Laubscher


Don’t keep this to yourself, spread the word ....”

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