Welcome from the Vice-Chancellor


2014/15 was a year of high accolades for the College: the RCA was identified as the world’s number one University of Art and Design in 2015 by QS World University Rankings; and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, it submitted a higher percentage
 of eligible staff than any other specialist art and design university, achieving the highest level of research intensity of any submission. 

Of course, external measures of success are valuable, but as important are the day-to-day interactions of staff and students that take place in a concentrated, specialist institution – in the studios, workshops and seminar rooms, where we offer the highest ratio of staff to students of any art and design university in the UK (1:13). It’s an environment in which students feel free to experiment and produce remarkable results, alongside formal briefs with industry partners including Airbus, Jaguar and Brioni. These experiences all prepare our students for the ‘real world’ of the workplace.

The College continues to extend its academic offer: in 2012/13 the RCA launched four new Master’s programmes. Designed both to reflect and inform new practices in design, we launched Information Experience Design, led by Dr Kevin Walker; Interior Design, led by Graeme Brooker; Service Design, led by Dr Nick de Leon, and Global Innovation Design, led by Professor Miles Pennington. This latter programme sees the RCA working on a global stage, in partnership with the Pratt Institute in New York and Keio University, Tokyo.

For 2016/17 entry, the College is excited to be adding a new programme to our offer, MA Contemporary Art Practice, with pathways in Critical Practice, Moving Image, Performance and Public Sphere. The programme brings together world-leading practitioners include Jane Wilson and Professor Nigel Rolfe to extend our range of Fine Art specialisms and engage with new perspectives and lineages.

With these new programmes, the RCA has increased student numbers alongside a commensurate growth in staff. The excellence of an RCA education rests on the calibre of academic staff: world-ranking academics and practitioners attract the world’s finest students, and this year we welcomed over 1,500 talented individuals from some 65 different countries, and increased our pool of MPhil and PhD candidates.

This year the RCA launched a new innovation lab with TCS – Tata Consultancy Services. This lab will focus on the areas of digital mobility, big data, user experience, and service design. 

The Helix Centre – housed in a pop-up studio at St Mary’s Hospital and designed by first-year RCA architect students – is the first design lab to be established in a clinical setting. The Helix studio encourages clinicians, patients and hospital visitors to interact with a team of designers to develop high-impact new products and services for the NHS.    

The state-of-the-art Woo Building opened its doors to students from the School of Material in autumn 2015, completing the Battersea campus and the magnificent Dyson Building, which opened in autumn 2012. The RCA's Kensington campus will be revitalised in 2015/16, enabled by the support of the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Especial thanks are due to those donors whose support has unlocked so many possibilities, in particular Sir Po-Shing and Lady Helen Woo, the James Dyson Foundation, thee Garfield Weston Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation, the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation, and the 734 individual alumni of the College who made contributions in 2014/15. We remain grateful to HEFCE for its continued support of the RCA, in particular, its recognition of the high costs associated with the RCA’s teaching practice and provision of technical facilities. 

Dr Paul Thompson

"Live projects with ‘real world’ partners abound across the RCA and offer tremendous strength to the employment prospects of our highly talented graduates."
Dr Paul Thompson
Dr Paul Thompson
Photographer: Anja Schaffner