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Student Showcase Archive

Royal College of Art Consolidates Position as Britain’s Leading Specialist Art and Design University

The Royal College of Art ‘s reputation for world-class research has been further enhanced, as results from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) are published.

The highest ranking UK specialist art and design institution in terms of 4* research overall, at 37 per cent, today’s REF results confirm the College’s position as the UK’s pre-eminent university of art and design.   

A further 40 per cent of Royal College of Art research is rated as 3*, meaning that in total, 77 per cent of the College’s research is assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. This represents a 12 point increase on the College’s RAE 2008 results.

At 65 per cent of eligible staff, the RCA has also submitted the highest proportion of staff by far, significantly more than any other multidisciplinary university of art and design.

The College’s REF 2014 submission also embraced the work of researchers at all levels of their career, from world-class professors to early-career researchers. As befits a mature research culture, 100 per cent of the College’s  is assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. 

Building on the College’s strong RAE 2008 performance, the results today reflect the continued investment in the RCA’s research strategy and its people over the past six years, ensuring that its research excellence enhances that in teaching and scholarship. 

Dr Paul Thompson, Rector of the Royal College of Art said: 'In committing to support a comprehensive research culture and a large body of researchers, it is particularly notable that 77 per cent of work here at the Royal College of Art is ’world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ research; the Royal College of Art is clearly a world-class art and design research university. We can look forward confidently to being recognised as the partner of choice for other world-class organisations to address the research challenges of the next decade. Our success in the REF today is as a result of the hard work, commitment and effort of staff from across the College in all Schools and research centres. My congratulations to all involved.'

Dr Jamie Gilham, Head of Research Development added: 'In terms of generating world-class research, from a stimulating and supportive environment, through to creating real-world impact, with 100 per cent at 4* and 3* in both categories we are clearly delighted with our results today. I’m also particularly pleased to see some of our early-career researchers supported in their research careers and included in our submission.  Research needs a supportive environment in which to take root, and as these results have shown, the RCA provides highly fertile ground.'

RCA research ranges from the radical redesign of the NHS emergency ambulance and life-saving healthcare innovations to autonomous vehicles, and from practice-based research undertaken within the fine and applied arts to critical writing in art and design, performance, architecture, fashion and photography. 

For more information about the seven projects submitted to the REF to demonstrate the impact of RCA research, please see:

RCA Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design Shapes Policy, Methods and Ethics for Inclusive Design

RCA Vehicle Design Produces Sustained Vision for Future Urban Mobility

Peter Kennard’s Research Takes Photomontage into Twenty-first Century

Cross-Cultural Dialogue Demonstrates Impact in Contemporary Ceramics

RCA Leads Way in Multidisciplinary User-Centred Design Solutions for Patient Safety

‘Critical and Speculative Design Traditions’ Have Revolutionised What is Meant By Design

Cold War Modern. Design 1945–1970 Transforms Curation and Collection of Twentieth-century Design