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Three people discuss works in an exhibition. Neon text and inflated leather sculptures hand on the rear wall.

Our mission

The Royal College of Art aims to achieve international standards of excellence in the postgraduate and pre- /mid-professional education of artists and designers and related practitioners. It aims to achieve these through the quality of its teaching, research and practice and through its relationship with the institutions, industries and technologies associated with the disciplines of art and design.

The College aims to achieve these standards of excellence by:

  • Fostering a high level of understanding of the principles and practices of art and design.
  • Encouraging individual creativity among staff and students.
  • Recruiting students of proven ability and by providing pre-professional and post-experience study opportunities.
  • Continuously enhancing appropriate links and collaborations with industries and professional bodies.
  • Exploring the innovative applications of technologies and processes to the disciplines of art and design.
  • Encouraging awareness of social and environmental developments insofar as they relate to art and design; and through co-operation and partnership with other institutions, locally, nationally and internationally.

Equality statement

The Royal College of Art is committed to creating an environment of mutual respect, where differences are valued and respected and where innovation, creativity and diversity can flourish. Positive working relationships – whether between staff and staff, staff and students or students and students – are central to this. Mutual respect is facilitated by the promotion of values of dignity, courtesy and respect, alongside a culture of zero tolerance of bullying and harassment.

RCA anti-discrimination statements

RCA general statement on anti-discrimination

The RCA stands firmly against unlawful discrimination in all its forms against staff, students and visitors with protected characteristics as set out in the Equality Act 2010 (age, sex (gender), sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity). In addition, we will not tolerate discrimination on the grounds of any other characteristics or circumstances including, but not limited to: ethnic or national origin, socio-economic background and trade union membership status.

The College is committed to fostering a positive culture where all staff, students, and visitors can flourish and where no-one will feel compelled to conceal or play down elements of their identity for fear of being stigmatised. Our staff have the right to work and our students the right to study in an environment which is free from bullying and harassment and gives them the dignity and respect to which they are entitled.

The College is committed to eradicating unlawful discrimination, will promote equality, diversity and respect for all and create an environment where individual differences and contributions are recognised and valued, in our policies and procedures as well as in the way that we communicate and engage with each other.

The following are the kinds of discrimination for which the RCA is working towards a policy of zero tolerance. Any act of discrimination or harassment on unlawful grounds or failure to comply with our policies and procedures will result in a thorough investigation which may lead to disciplinary action for our staff or students.

  • Direct discrimination – treating someone with a protected characteristic or different circumstances less favourably than others ·
  • Indirect discrimination – putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic or different circumstances at an unfair disadvantage.
  • Harassment – unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic or different circumstances that violates someone’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment for them.
  • Victimisation – treating someone unfairly or badly because they have, or are thought to have, made a complaint about discrimination or harassment or helped someone else make a claim of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

Resources for staff and students (this list is not exhaustive and will be updated regularly)

1. RCA statement on antisemitism

The Royal College of Art, through consultation, has committed to consider staff and students concerns with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition on antisemitism.

The RCA has chosen to acknowledge the IHRA working definition of antisemitism with the addition of the Home Affairs Select Committee 2016 Codicil.

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” (IHRA working definition on antisemitism)

The UK Parliament Home Affairs Select Committee in 2016 made two clarifications on this definition. These are to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained in the context of discourse about Israel and Palestine, without allowing antisemitism to permeate any debate. The clarifications are:

"It is not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent. It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.”

Additionally, the RCA has chosen to further strengthen its commitment to counter antisemitism through the acknowledgement of the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA) definition “Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish).” (The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism).

The RCA reasserts its commitment to academic freedom and freedom of speech within the law and will continue to consult regularly with staff and students.

2. Anti Discrimination Statement on East and South East Asian Hate.

Sinophobia is a fear or dislike of China, or Chinese people, their language or culture. Meaning, pronunciation, translations and examples.

East Asians (such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese) and Southeast Asians in ethnicity (for example Singaporean, Malaysian, Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese) who have East Asian appearance.

The RCA is committed to addressing any behaviours of East and South East Asian (ESEA) discrimination; some of the widespread stereotypes of ethnically ESEA people are concerned with include, but are not limited to:

  • Verbal and physical abuse, and xenophobic attitudes towards individuals of East and Southeast Asian descent, especially during times of crisis.
  • Stereotyping and exoticisation of East and Southeast Asian cultures and individuals.
  • Treating Chinese students as a monolithic group, i.e. referring to “All you Chinese students”.
  • Unfair/underlying assumption about China that is inherently negative, for example, assuming lack of access to certain news or negative references to censorship.
  • Lack of genuine effort in learning students' names, forcing students to adopt anglicised names
  • Adopting a patronising tone to students not fluent in English.
  • Incidents of online, verbal and physical attacks against Chinese, East Asian and Asian people across the world, including hate crime.
  • Aiming negative descriptions of Chinese and East Asian people at their facial features, accents, language, and preconceptions regarding the food they eat.
  • Examples of stereotypes and ignorance, including behaviour such as mocking through exaggerated imitation or directing derogatory/racist terms used to demean and belittle.

3. Anti Discrimination Statement on Islamophobia

The APPG definition of Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness. An additional consideration of Islamophobia is the fear of, hatred of, or prejudice against the religion of Islam or Muslims.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) definition of Islamophobia aligns to the three essential principles:

  • Islamophobia is a form of racism.
  • Islamophobia is more than just anti-Muslim hatred or bigotry.
  • Islamophobia does not incorporate criticism of Islam as a faith, but some people may hide behind “criticism of Islam” when engaging in Islamophobia.

Examples of manifestations of Islamophobia in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in encounters between religions and non-religions in the public sphere could include, but are not limited to:

  • Accusing Muslims as a group of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Muslim person or group of Muslim individuals, or even for acts committed by non-Muslims.”
  • Violence as inherent to Islam as a faith, and Muslims, by extension, having a unique penchant for it.
  • Causing, calling for, aiding or justifying the harm against a Muslim – or someone perceived to be a Muslim – due to their perceived religious identity as a Muslim, or their connection to or support for Muslims.
  • Causing, calling for, aiding or justifying acts of aggression against Muslim targets such as mosques, schools, cemeteries or Islamic centres because they are either Muslim or connected to Muslims (actual or perceived).
  • Dehumanising, demonising or making stereotypical allegations about Muslims in a way that is not used to those of other backgrounds.
  • Denying the right of a Muslim to be an equal citizen.

4. Anti black discrimination (Afriphobia, Afrophobia)

The definition put forward by the European Network Against Racism:

Anti black discrimination (Afriphobia, Afrophobia) can be defined as “a specific form of racism that refers to any act of violence or discrimination including racist hate speech, fuelled by historical abuses and negative stereotyping, and leading to the exclusion and dehumanisation of people of African descent. It can take many forms: dislike, bias, oppression, racism and structural and institutional discrimination, among others”.

Accordingly, Afrophobia can be seen as “the result of the social construction of race to which generic and/or cultural specificities and stereotypes are attributed to (racialisation)” which “is deeply embedded in the collective European imagination and continues to impact the lives of people of African descent and Black Europeans”.

Afrophobia can also be generally understood as the manifestation of racism towards Black people, intended as all those individuals, groups and communities that define themselves as 'Black'.

Examples of Anti Black discrimination include (but not exhaustive)

  • Discrimination against someone because of their race
  • Black staff or students are not recruited or promoted even though they are qualified. The person who gets the job/promotion is less qualified but is white – the employer said they would fit in better with the other white employees. This is likely to be direct race discrimination.
  • Racial profiling and stereotyping, such as assuming that an African, Caribbean or Mixed Heritage person is dangerous or uneducated based on their appearance.
  • Verbal abuse or harassment, including the use of racial slurs or derogatory comments.
  • Denial of opportunities such as employment, housing, or education, based solely on race.
  • Physical violence and hate crimes, which have become more common in recent years.

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 has introduced a public sector equality duty which requires the College to have due regard for the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
  • Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.

Read our Equality and Diversity Policy (PDF). 

In line with requirements under the Equality Act 2010, the College has published an RCA Equality Report 2018/19 (PDF) relating to our staff and student population. We have recently begun to collect and collate information on the newer protected characteristics of religion and belief and sexual orientation, taking account of good practice guidance regarding sensitive information.

As part of our public sector equality duty, we have published the latest version of the College’s Equality Objectives for 2018–21 (PDF).

We realise that promoting equality and diversity is an ongoing process, and we are always seeking to consult with and involve different sectors of the community. If you have any comments about your experiences as an applicant or visitor to the College that relate to equality and diversity please contact [email protected].

Staff diversity information

The Royal College of Art is committed to creating an environment of mutual respect, where differences are valued and celebrated and where innovation, creativity and diversity can flourish. To achieve this, we must strive to ensure equality of opportunity for all and eliminate discrimination. While steps are already underway, there is much more to be done. This will be led by the President and Vice-Chancellor and the Senior Management Team, but everyone must play their part. The charts below show representation among staff on gender, ethnicity and sexuality where the information is known and broken down by academic and non-academic staff and seniority (published June 2020). We are committed to transparency and will update this information on an annual basis to monitor and demonstrate progress.

The College prides itself on its ability to recruit the very best researchers and practitioners to join the academic staff, and it remains essential to the unique quality of teaching and research that it continues to attract and retain world-leading academic staff as well as inspirational practising artists and designers and a large number of highly specialised technicians. 

Staff diversity

Gender pay gap report

The UK Government required employers with 250 or more relevant employees to publish gender pay gap information by October 2021, based on data from 31 March 2020 (public sector). Download our Gender Pay Gap Report (PDF) here.

Gender pay gap