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Celebrating 25 years of Media Design School

Media Design School NZ 3 mins read
Celebrating 25 years of Media Design School

It started with a bright spark and for the past 25 years, Media Design School has been creating graduates who are prized by industry, both in Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad.


In 1998, Liz Valintine founded Media Design School (MDS) on a modest campus in Queen Street, Auckland. At a time when the ‘dial-up internet’ was starting to take off and new jobs in digital and creative technology were rapidly emerging, MDS was the answer to a growing industry’s call for digitally fluent, design-savvy graduates.


Since the humble beginnings, it has evolved into an award-winning force in digital design and creative education, respected by industry for the calibre of graduates and its continuous evolution, growth and diversification.


In 2021 MDS relocated to a custom-built, 6 Green Star campus in Wynyard Quarter in the Innovation Precinct – reflecting its outlook and its partnerships with leaders in creative design. Today MDS is the most awarded private tertiary provider for digital and creative technology qualifications across the Asia-Pacific.


Year after year, MDS has remained at the pinnacle of innovation, here are some of the highlights.


Animation pioneer


MDS was the first tertiary institution in the Southern Hemisphere to offer a dedicated programme of study in 3D Animation. Its graduates have gone on to work at leading studios including Wētā FX, and on films including Avatar and The Lord of the Rings. MDS consistently wins prestigious awards and international acclaim. Currently it is the #1 animation school in New Zealand and ranked #12 in the world by Animation Career Review 2023.


Game Development


MDS introduced New Zealand’s first specialised Game Development course in 2012, and in 2014, became the first and only institution in New Zealand to offer PlayStation development as part of a degree programme, with the rare opportunity to develop games for the platform. This innovation led to MDS’ first commercial releases in 2018, with Reverie on PlayStation Vita and Sky Noon on Steam. In 2022, MDS celebrated 10 years of Game Development courses, with around 270 of MDS alumni making up more than 25% of the industry’s workforce in New Zealand.


Innovation and achievements


2012 marked a significant development in offerings with MDS’ first Bachelor Degrees, and in 2016, MDS offered New Zealand’s first qualifications in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) and pioneered the country’s first Bachelor Degrees in Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing.


MDS graduates achieve a 98% employment rate, surpassing the national average of 69%, and often, its Graduate Diploma of Creative Advertising, secure them swiftly - even in lockdown 90% of graduates secured agency roles within just a week of completing their studies.


In 2023, MDS continued to set new benchmarks at the Mad Stars 2023 Awards, sweeping the highest number of wins in the non-professional category and earning the only Gold globally for our Creative Advertising students. Our students have also triumphed at the ONE SHOW Awards in New York and the global hallmark of creative excellence, the D&AD Awards in London.


This year was a milestone for research at MDS by being awarded a $213,000 grant from the NZ Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa Fund to finance the first stage of the project, ‘Digitaonga: exploring new methods of repatriation using blockchain technology.’


Breaking barriers and building pathways


As a Certified B Corporation, MDS is committed to providing access and opportunities in design and creative technology. For over a decade, Media Design School has championed careers for women in technology with its Girls in Games initiative focussed on nurturing talent from high schools. In 2022, 57% of its new, on-campus Game Art programme students are female – a source of massive pride.


In addition to partnering with IBM’s PTech programme, MDS has set up Satellite Learning Centres in regional New Zealand and established a wide range of collaborations with high schools, industry and government education bodies to support Māori, Pacific and underserved high school students earn NZQA accredited qualifications.


MDS’ impact extends far beyond New Zealand’s shores, affecting global issues and communities. In recent years, our alumni achieved notable recognition by linking air pollution to property prices in the UK, prompting legislative changes; establishing HIV+ sperm banks and reshaping public perceptions, and teaming up with scientists in Germany and the WWF to discover and name a new deep-sea species.


As it looks ahead to the next 25 years, it is passionate about supporting the growth of Aotearoa New Zealand’s established and emerging creative technology companies and producing talented graduates ready to make an impact around the globe.

About us:

About Media Design School

Founded in 1998, Media Design School was the first school in New Zealand to recognise the growing influence of emerging creative industries - such as Game Development, Animation, Media Design, VR/AR, Creative Advertising, Software Engineering, and more - and develop qualifications to fuel them with talented graduates. Based in Auckland's Innovation Precinct, the Wynyard Quarter, their state-of-the-art learning environment and unique teaching style combines boutique class sizes, project-based learning and a strong industry focus to produce highly employable graduates who are making waves in creative tech across the globe.

Contact details:

Mike Hughes | Senior Marketing Manager | 09 303 0402


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