The Virginia Commonwealth University of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) recently launched the Summer Program for High School Students 2020, tailored to provide an overview of the academic degree courses offered by the university. 

What surprised her most, according to Haanin Shafeeque, a Doha British School high school student and Doha resident who participated in the first-of-its-kind summer programme, was how much she learnt about the nuances of art and design, by studying online.

She added that the whole programme was an amazing experience, right from the encouraging instructors to a supportive peer group. 

My teachers were constantly in touch, providing feedback, and allowing me to further improve my work. Those few weeks gave me an opportunity to surround myself – virtually – with stunning artworks created by other talented students, and in turn, be inspired by them.

The month-long programme was led by VCUarts Qatar alumni, with the department chair of each specialisation making online introductions to each academic pathway. Participants were also able to engage with leading industry professionals who further explained the careers – and transferable skills – that a major in art and design opened doors to.

The course consisted of three phases. The week-long first phase, an introduction or foundation module, aimed to provide an overview of art and design. The second phase extended over two weeks and saw participants choose from four of the five pathways – graphic design, painting and printmaking, fashion design and interior design – that VCUarts Qatar offers, providing them deeper understanding of the academic programmes.

A few participants, such as high school student Jumana Bakri, chose to continue the optional one-week portfolio development workshop to learn the fundamentals of developing a portfolio of their creative work. Given the fact that it was her first experience applying to an online programme, Bakri admitted that she had her doubts.

Yet, throughout the journey, I learnt multiple aspects and concepts of art, especially in the first week where we were exposed to the fundamentals.

This made me rethink my artistic choices when designing and sketching; it opened my mind to abstract perspectives! I’m a graphic design student; following the course, I realised I’m fascinated with interior design as well.

Bakri also noted how the portfolio development programme was invaluable in teaching her how important it was to include a variety of different techniques in a portfolio, be it for university applications or a job.

Jumana Bakri working on a project at homeShe said that she gained insights into how selectors interpret the concepts and ideas involved in an art work or design, and what they look for in a candidate. It was an incredibly useful session and she said she was pleased to have opted to take part in it.

For more information about VCUarts Qatar and the different programmes they offer, visit