Recently, a student wrote to me to ask about becoming an artist. She told me that she planned to go to art school "to make contacts" and to be around other artists. In my experience, art school doesn't help you to make contacts – unless those contacts are academic. I've made many more simply by exhibting my work and promoting it on- and offline.They are in the 'real world' of commercial galleries, collectors, corporate patrons, curators, critics (and their editors), publishers, as well other artists.I didn't finish my art degree. I dropped out after only one semester. But I remained friends with many who remained. All complained that the rigid course curriculum leached as much, maybe more, from them than it replenished. Those who were most passionate about art when they began – and in my opinion, were the promising artists of my year – abandoned art completely after finishing their degrees. They were worn down by the theory-laden criticism of lecturers and tutors and the low marks they got for what was unquestionably intriguing, innovative work. Their imaginations were strangled – not inspired – by the system's hide-bound notions about the sort of work they were 'supposed' to be producing.The bottom line is, art colleges in Australia just aren't that good. None can claim the rich histories – or famed alumni – of Slade, Goldsmiths, or St. Martins in the U.K. And none of them can offer an aspiring young artist access to a senior tutor as distinguished as Michael Craig-Martin. Originality is elemental to the success of these institutions as well as their sustained influence on the wider culture.. In Australian art colleges, as in Australia generally, originality is actively discouraged – if it's recognised at all.