Mediadesign and Whitecliffe - Future alliance with great potential

The alliance between Mediadesign Hochschule and Whitecliffe College offers international market opportunities and many advantages for employees, students and alumni. Although the autonomy of both educational institutions remains intact, the alliance shows how far-sighted the entrepreneurially managed colleges are in their joint focus on the future.

Whiteciffe College, based in Auckland, New Zealand, was founded in 1983 by artists Greg and Michelle Whitcliffe as a school of art, design and fashion. Meanwhile, there are other campuses in Wellington and Christchurch, as well as in Canada, and the program, which is divided into different schools, has expanded considerably. With the motto "unleash your creativity and critical thinking, embrace risk-taking and gain advanced skills", Whitecliffe builds a bridge to the Mediadesign Hochschule in both its values and its central brand message.

In an interview, Martin Adam (CEO and Chancellor of the Mediadesign Hochschule mdh) and Prof. Carola A. Elias (CRO of mdh) spoke about the most important impulses, advantages, challenges and future opportunities that this alliance brings with it.

Board Members

Board Members

Jianeng Lu ( Member of the Board), Feroz Ali ( Member of the Board), Martin Adam (CEO & Member of the Board)

How did mdh and Whitecliffe come together? What was the original impetus?

When we first explored the idea of an alliance, it was really our heart's desire to create something great, an educational alliance that transcends boundaries. We wanted to create an environment in which creative and critical thinking would not only be encouraged, but also celebrated, by bringing together the best of both worlds. The alliance, which is much more than a collaboration, was a carefully considered decision to strategically complement our program and allow us to create an educational institution with international reach.

Why are the two educational institutions such a good fit? Where are the synergies, where are the complements?

Our strengths complement each other perfectly - from the creative arts to design and fashion to sustainability and IT. Whitecliffe brings art, fashion design and technology, IT and AI, jewelry design and art therapy, while mdh adds programs such as digital film design, game design and media-based management. In addition, there are commonalities in the area of media design and management in the context of entrepreneurship. These synergies and the shared vision of classical design theory and sustainable, applied research form the basis of a common, comprehensive educational platform. Our aim is to build a bridge, not only visually and culturally, but also in the way we understand and offer education.

In a world that is constantly changing, we see this connection as our chance to reposition ourselves and take a leading role in creative education.

What are the benefits of collaboration for the people, resources, processes, and structures in your organization?

When we look at the benefits of this alliance, a world of creative possibilities opens up. By combining our resources and best practices, we can expand our program offerings and create a 360-degree learning environment. 

Together, we can manage processes more efficiently and create structures that enable technological, content, and administrative synergies to ensure the future viability of both companies. These synergies will enable our staff and students to participate in international exchange programs, which in turn will broaden the perspectives of all and connect them on a global level.

Martin Adam.jpeg

What are the benefits for students, alumni and prospective students?

For our students and alumni, the merger will open the door to internationally recognized degrees and an extensive network that will make their career paths more diverse. Interdisciplinary links, even within individual programs, lead to technology transfer, new insights and a culture of diversity, while exchange programs between continents enable our students to develop their full potential. These new paths are not only academic, but also personal enrichment through understanding and experiencing different cultures.

Are there any challenges? If so, what are they?

Of course there are challenges associated with such an ambitious undertaking. The integration of different systems and cultures, the quality assurance and international recognition of our educational offerings require careful planning and commitment. But we are prepared to meet these challenges by focusing on transparent communication, involving all stakeholders and pursuing a common goal. One key approach could be the introduction of a common quality management system based on the international EFQM model. While ISO focuses on meeting compliance requirements, the EFQM model focuses on striving for balanced excellence in all relevant aspects. Our goal is to create sustainable value for our stakeholders by understanding them as an integrated eco-system. In this way, we can better understand the causal relationships between the "why" of strategic decisions, the "how" of implementing measures, and the "what", the result of our actions. And that helps us to achieve sustainable long-term success. The joint commitment to such a process also fosters regular exchange between university leaders and departments.

This alliance is not just a union of two institutions; it is the beginning of a new era in education, characterized by the creation of a supportive, global community in which everyone has the chance to reach their full potential.

What steps are planned to implement the alliance in companies as part of a transformation?

Implementing change is really about creating a climate of trust and openness. We place great value on ensuring that everyone in our team feels safe to speak their mind without having to fear negative consequences. This approach not only encourages openness, but also honest feedback, which is essential for the success of our change process.

We strongly believe in involving our employees in decision-making processes. Through workshops, regular meetings and feedback loops, we give everyone the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns. This participatory decision making strengthens the commitment and acceptance of change within our organizations.

The development of adaptive structures is also a key element of our strategy. We are constantly working to make our processes so flexible that they can quickly adapt to new conditions. This often means rethinking and adapting roles, responsibilities and communication channels.

Such an alliance is always associated with anxiety and uncertainty, both among employees and students. How do you address these uncertainties?

Transparent communication is essential in change management. We strive to provide clear, consistent and open information about the reasons, goals and expected effects of our changes. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and builds trust.

Emotional support for our employees plays a decisive role. We offer a variety of formats, from one-on-one or group discussions to stress management workshops, to address fears and insecurities. Access to professional psychological counseling is also an important part of our support.

Last but not least, it is important for us to celebrate and recognize successes. The recognition of milestones during the change process motivates us all and strengthens the feeling of achieving something together. We use both formal and informal recognition to celebrate these successes.

What is Whitecliffe-mdh's vision for the future? Where do we want to be in 5 years?

When we think about where we want Whitecliffe and mdh to be in five years, I see us at the forefront of global creative education. Our vision is to be a global leader - an institution known for the innovation and diversity we bring to our educational offerings. We want to offer our students around the world customized educational pathways that not only provide them with unique opportunities, but also open the doors to a globally connected community.

The five-year anniversary of our alliance will be more than a milestone; it will be a celebration of our global reach, our achievements, and the profound impact we have made together. These celebrations on different continents will not only honor our past accomplishments, but also symbolize our future direction and continued impact in the world of creative education.

We look forward to the next steps!