RCA Fund 2015 Campaign: Supporting a Future Generation
Running until 30 April, the second annual RCA Fund telethon aims to reconnect alumni, friends and supporters of the College to support a future generation of designers, artists, writers, cultural theorists and thinkers.
Within the last five years, the College has seen a reduction of over 20 per cent of its Government funding, with further reductions expected to continue into the future. While there are currently bursaries available to help towards tuition fees, and individual scholarships tailored towards specialisms within programmes, many students are still faced with worries over the costs of postgraduate study, and prospective students are turning down offers of places at the RCA.
The average student debt accumulated through undergraduate study currently stands at £40,000, a factor which inhibits students pursuing further study for fear of amassing more debt. Over 25 per cent of UK students and 75 per cent of international students turn down places offered to them at the RCA for entirely financial reasons. These are students who have already demonstrated excellence at undergraduate level, and have been selected from a huge pool of applicants to study at the College.
For those who do accept places, supporting themselves often requires employment outside of the College, with the average student working four days or more, on top of their full time study. Chris Green, Annual Giving Manager at the RCA explains: ‘Support can ease the financial pressure on students and reduce the need to work long hours in external jobs to fund their studies. By raising funds for full pre-entry scholarships, we can enable those who have the talent but not the financial security to be able to accept a place at the College, rather than turning it down purely for financial reasons.’
Now in its second year, the RCA Fund aims to ensure that the most talented artists and designers can experience an RCA education regardless of their background or financial circumstance. Green emphasises that, ‘The need for pre-entry Scholarships has never been higher. Last year thanks to the generosity of the alumni community, we were able to award our first, full-fees pre-entry scholarship (starting in 2015/16) and six bursaries to help first-year students complete their studies.’
The focus of this year’s campaign is on raising funds for further pre-entry scholarships and bursaries, which will enable additional first-year students facing financial difficulties to complete their studies. There are hopes that as the RCA Fund grows, it will also support activities across the College including research projects, material costs, travel bursaries, studio renovations and capital developments.
In order to raise these funds, a dedicated team of current RCA students will be leading the telethon, providing a personal conduit, to re-connect alumni with their alma mater. This event will also provide students with the opportunity to quiz their predecessors about their experiences at the RCA and career paths since leaving. The team will be pose questions such as, ‘What if the majority of students at the RCA were offered scholarships?' and ‘What if you (the alumnus) had been unable to accept your offered place due to financial restrictions?’, exploring the idea of ‘Imagination Without Barriers’.
The campaign seeks to emphasise that all alumni, friends and supporters of the College are able to make a significant difference to current and prospective students. With over 8,000 registered alumni, even a one-off donation of £30 would enable the creation of 14 full pre-entry scholarships next year.
Critical Writing in Art & Design student Fiona Churchman explains the vital impact the RCA Fund has had for her: ‘Without the support of the RCA Fund bursary, I would have had to drop out of my course. By receiving the award to help with fees, I’m now able focus on earning enough to live and on my writing. It’s a second chance that will allow me to complete my research.’
Click here to support and find out more about the RCA Fund.