Around the world

Around the world

ISTD has a growing international membership and actively seeks to develop relationships with individuals, institutions and cognate organisations around the world.

The original assessment scheme operated solely within England for many years. An annual cycle of assessments now commences in March with the Main Assessment in London, followed a month later by the Irish Assessment, hosted in rotation by institutions in Eire and N Ireland. In early summer, the Middle East assessment takes place which has been hosted by Notre Dame University in Lebanon for some eight years. The assessments in the southern hemisphere take place during their Spring – September/October in South Africa – and November for Australasia.


The original assessment was always referred to as the ISTD Student Assessment. With the development of assessments around the world we now use the term Main Assessment rather than United Kingdom (UK) as it receives work from areas not related to the other international locations. Each year, as well as the bulk of our submissions from the UK, we receive and assess work from Canada, continental Europe, Scandinavia, Sounth America and the United States.


The Irish Assessment was inaugurated in 2002 by John McMillan together with John O’Connor and Brenda Dermody of Dublin Institute of Technology, DIT, who hosted the first few assessments. Subsequently, the network of tutors taking part represent most of Eire and Northern Ireland institutions, and has established a rotation that has seen ISTD visit Athlone, Belfast, Dun Laoghaire, Limerick, NCAD and the National Print Museum at Beggar’s Bush, Dublin – a more inspirational venue would be hard to find.

Over the years the assessment has become accepted as an event that has developed a network of practicing designers and educators fostering valuable cooperation. It is geographically based – all students in Ireland, both north and south, submit to the Irish Assessment. In 2011 the assessment returned to Beggar’s Bush, to Limerick, 2012 and Dublin in 2013.

Middle East

Notre Dame University (NDU) has hosted the Middle East assessment at their Louaize campus, north of Beirut for over eight years. Long-serving member John Kortbaoui FISTD and his young team of ISTD members have worked hard to maintain the Society's development and involvement in Middle Eastern design education.

The Middle East assessment is unique in requiring students to carry out their projects in both Arabic and Latin scripts. This provides ISTD and the students with valuable experience, through the comparative assessment by members from Lebanon and the UK.

During past years we have delivered lectures on the work of the Society and held workshops over several days, hosted by ISTD ME team member Diane Mikhael Minassian, at VCU, Virginia Commonwealth University in Doha, Qatar, and in Lebanon. The 2013 assessment was held in June at NDU, followed by a lecture on the successful work from this year by ISTD Education Director John McMillan.

South Africa

Our longest running overseas assessment was instigated in 1999 by board member Brian Palmer FISTD, and is now coordinated by Tiffany Turkington-Palmer, South Africa Education Team member. The assessment usually takes place in Johannesburg.

Over the years sponsorships, particularly by Adobe, have allowed ISTD representatives to travel to South Africa. This has helped to not only develop the assessment scheme, but to carry out high profile lectures, education seminars and workshops. Colleagues in South Africa are also testing distance assessment methods with UK and Ireland, using Skype, email and conference calls. Skype lectures have also been given by John McMillan to academic audiences in Cape Town and Johannesburg, coordinated by Mohammed Jogie during the 2010 Loerie Awards. These ‘Skype’ events linked with Freda Sack ‘on the ground’ at the time during her series of professional and student workshops in South Africa.


The last in the annual cycle, the Australasian Student Assessment was established in 2008 by Deputy Chair Becky Chilcott and ISTD member and lecturer Annette O’Sullivan. The first assessment was hosted by Nicki Wragg at Swinburne University, Melbourne. Since then the scheme has grown steadily in the number of registrations and moved around Australia to Billy Blue School of Design, Sydney and back to Melbourne in 2013, hosted by Monash University.

Australasian students understand that the benchmark is high and for those who aspire to achieve at an international level, the assessment provides an incredible incentive to really craft their work. The typographic learning gained from the experience of putting together an ISTD submission is considerable. For all students who submit work, this level of motivation and perseverance is greatly admired and respected by their peers, lecturers, assessors and industry.

North America

The North American ISTD Student Assessment was established in 2017 by Aoife Mooney and Jillian Coorey, professors of the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State University in Ohio. The inaugural assessment involved 14 educators and industry professionals who travelled across the continent, from New York to LA, to serve as assessors. Since then, the assessment moved with the School to its new home at Taylor Hall, a historic landmark on the Kent State campus. The NA assessment takes place each Spring in March or April, and has seen an increase in participation both in numbers and in geographical range, with work being submitted from as far afield as Kansas to Montréal. The assessment serves as a community gathering, fostering collaboration and dialogue. In 2019, in response to the Google Webfonts sponsored brief, type designer Dave Crossland joined for a virtual visit to the assessment event. We welcome new educators taking on the briefs within their classes, and industry professionals to join our expanding team of assessors.

The North American assessment maintains strong ties to our counterparts overseas. Profs. Mooney and Coorey have participated in the Main assessment scheme, work with the ISTD Education Director Jill Spratt; and have welcomed John Paul Dowling (previous ISTD Education Director) and for the past few years, Brenda Dermody (ISTD Fellow and ISTD Ireland coordinator) traveling to Kent to moderate and oversee the events.