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Learning and Teaching in academic year 2020/21

Covid-19: Our current teaching and operations

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, like other institutions and organisations around the world, the College has been required by the Government to close all of our buildings. Our buildings currently remain closed and we have moved teaching and learning for all our programmes online for the summer of 2020.

The health and safety of our students and staff is at the heart of all our decisions at this challenging, unprecedented time. We are pleased, though, that students from some 60 countries around the world are actively engaging in our programmes and continuing to benefit from learning with our teaching staff online. 

We are monitoring the situation very carefully and are committed - subject to Government restrictions and the safety of our staff and students at all time, including social distancing requirements - to learning and teaching on campus if at all possible. 

Arrangements for Autumn Term 2020/2021

Please find further information below for current 2020/2021 offer holders, and for RCA students who are progressing their studies with us:

Information for offer holders 

We are looking forward to welcoming you to the Royal College of Art in September. Receiving an offer from the RCA is a real achievement, and we are proud to welcome you into our collective of designers, thinkers, makers and artists.

We are monitoring the Covid-19 situation very carefully and are committed - if it is safe for our students and staff -  to face-to-face teaching and learning in our studios. 

However, with the pandemic continuing to have a huge impact on every part of College life, it is anticipated that all learning and teaching for 1st year students for the Autumn Term 20/21 (September to December) will be wholly or partially online, and will only involve campus-based learning if safe to do so.

When will I be offered face-to-face teaching?

If UK Government restrictions allow, and if and when it is safe for our students and staff  (for example, if there are changes in expectations and guidance on social distancing), we will review the situation and would aim to flex your programme to include face-to-face sessions and opportunities to work in our studios. If you are overseas or prefer to continue to study online rather than attend in person in bursts you will be able to continue to study online.

What does online teaching and learning look like at the RCA?

Programmes have been re-designed and adapted to online teaching. This ensures that students achieve the required learning outcomes and, over the duration of their programme, are able to engage in practical, theoretical and critical elements of their coursework. An RCA degree is designed to help you question established narratives. This has never been more relevant, and will be a prominent feature of our online delivery.

As is normal at the RCA, all students will have the opportunity to participate in Across College and Across School activities, enabling them to engage and study with students from different programmes and Schools. This includes our Critical and Historical Studies College-wide programme.

I am based internationally, what will next term mean for me?

Timetabling will take into account the international nature of our community and the many geographies of our students, with events being re-run, recorded or pre-recorded where appropriate and feasible.

English Language Tests

We are aware that, due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, a number of approved English language test centres around the world have been closed. Although some test centres are starting now to re-open, we understand that many applicants are concerned about how they will be able to meet the College’s English language requirements, should they be made an offer. 

We have been reviewing possible alternative test options and are delighted to confirm that the RCA will now accept the following online English language tests:


We have also added the following test, available to students in China:


We are continuing to review alternative online options and will write to you again with any further information once that becomes clear. For more details visit: www.rca.ac.uk/english-language-requirements

Student Visa arrangements

We are currently reviewing our issuance of CAS for new students and will be updating affected students in the coming weeks on the procedure for applying for a Student Visa. We are aware that the majority of visa application centres are closed, and that normal time scales for CAS issuance will be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

We strongly advise that you do not book flights or accommodation in the UK until you have received information from us about CAS processing and have secured a Student Visa.

A note on student fees

An RCA degree is an internationally recognised qualification and, in line with UK Government advice, normal fees will apply regardless of the mode and mix of delivery.

Your offer

We greatly appreciate that this is an unsettling time and would like to reiterate how much we are looking forward to welcoming students to the College. We are committed to ensuring that students receive a full RCA experience over the duration of their programme and will - when it is safe to do so, following UK Government advice - look forward to face-to-face teaching and learning on our campuses. 

We are not able to offer deferred places. An offer of a place to study cannot be carried over into a subsequent academic year, and should an offer-holder who relinquishes their place wish to study at the RCA in the following or subsequent year(s), they will need to re-apply and to achieve the admissions standards in place at the time.

We have received a record number of applications to study for the coming academic year 2020/21, and we have extremely large waiting lists of suitably qualified candidates hoping to study at the RCA. In fairness to those candidates and applicants, and in calculating our student numbers for the 2020/21 academic year, we regret that we have made the decision not to offer applicants a deferral. If an applicant is unable to take up their place for any reason, we will need to offer it to another candidate. We also anticipate high applications again for the academic year 2021/22, and to be fair to all applicants we will not be offering deferrals. 

Applicants may apply for 2021/22 entry at a later date, and a withdrawal of acceptance for 2020/21 entry will not affect consideration of any future application. We cannot guarantee that any future application will be successful given the large number of applications that we receive.

Information for progressing students 

Subject to the provisions for online learning, travel restrictions applying to students who have returned home, and UK Government restrictions, students progressing with their programme in the autumn will be supported where possible with some access to on campus, teaching and learning, and technical services support. This will only be possible when it is safe to do so, and within any protocols or instructions regarding safe working practices and/or social distancing. 

In summary, with the pandemic continuing to have a huge impact on every part of College life, if UK Government restrictions allow and it is safe for students and staff, progressing students will be supported to progress with their programmes of study through a combination of online learning and on campus teaching bursts and technical services support. For those who cannot, or do not, want to travel to the UK or attend on campus, online only learning will continue to be available.

For the avoidance of doubt, ‘full’ on-campus activities will re-commence only when it is safe to do so: we have to plan on this basis as there is so much uncertainty around future phases of this pandemic that we can expect some uncertainty as to when and whether it will be safe for our students and staff travel to the UK and be permanently in buildings for some time to come. 

We must stress that we will only be able to allow our students and staff to enter our buildings and engage in College teaching onsite if UK Government advice allows this - and it is safe to do so. We will give students plenty of notice of when we plan to invite them to join us on campus to enable them to plan visas and travel arrangements.

We very much hope that all RCA students progressing in the autumn will be able to join us physically in London when we are able to more fully reopen studios and workshops. However, if students are unable to join us at our campus in person, we will commit to students being able to continue to participate in our teaching and learning online. We will adapt Programme timetabling to the international geographies of our students.

Current students should check the intranet for up-to-date information and advice.