Universities are constantly trying to improve their courses based on how the industry changes, but as the industry changes so rapidly, how can the universities keep up? The answer is, they can't, but they can offer students the basic knowledge needed to get into the industry, the rest is up to the students.
I think that university students on a game related course would have a better idea of what the industry is looking for because they are given a time frame for each project, like in the industry. People trying to teach themselves the skills needed would only concentrate on one aspect, like 3D characters for example, so they wouldn’t have a knowledge of any of the other aspects that the game companies would be looking for in a potential employee. There are some things that you may not have thought of by yourself that you could learn from an education.
Technical skills are a must for Game Art teachers, they need to keep up to date with what's happening in the games industry. Students rely on the tutors to give them guidance and get them correctly prepared for graduation, interviews and first jobs. It is up to the student to pick the right course which, in their mind, offers the same sort of standards as the industry, but it is up to themselves to create that level of standard in their work. It isn't really possible to teach someone to develop their skills and be creative, but in a way being made to feel like you're one of the smallest creatures on earth and constantly in competition with every single person on your course is a good way to force people to improve, which is kind of how I feel our course is.
Games companies should have views on what skills an artist should have, traditional skills are important for all of the jobs that we will be applying for in the industry. We need to have a basic knowledge of perspective, shape, form, colour theory and anatomy, because they will play a part in everything. Even anatomy would be useful for 3D vehicle and environment design for example because otherwise they wont fit in with the characters, like the seat is too big in the car or the doorway isn't tall enough for the player to get through.
I think that games companies will be looking for someone with all the necessary technical skills and some traditional knowledge, what they cannot be convinced about is creativity, the possible employee may have a creative portfolio but they may not work in a creative way, so their best bet would be to look for skills over everything else. Ideally they would be looking for someone that works fast, is very creative, has a good knowledge of traditional skills and with a large technical understanding.