About the RCA

From the august reaches of its 185-year history to current staff, student and alumni and activities, there’s more to the RCA than meets the eye.

About us

Founded in 1837, the Royal College of Art is the world’s largest community of postgraduate art and design students and has been ranked number one in the world for a remarkable nine consecutive years (QS World Subject Rankings 2015-2023). The RCA is research-led, and recognised in the UK-wide REF (Research Excellence Framework) as a world-leading research-intensive institution.

Studying at the RCA is the starting point for the world’s creative leaders. With more than 20,000 RCA alumni across the globe, the RCA’s graduates form a unique international network of artists, designers, creators and innovators. Its start-up incubator, InnovationRCA, is one of the most successful in the UK, and has a global reach, with consulting and training having been delivered across the world, including South Korea, the Middle East and Japan.

The RCA combines support for, and training in, the ‘traditional’ craft and professional skills of art and design, with the belief that art, design, creative thinking, science, engineering and technology must all collaborate to solve today’s global challenges.

Over 2,500 students are spread across four schools and four research centres – Architecture, Arts & Humanities, Communication and Design – studying at MA, MPhil, MRes and PhD level. The College’s mix of professionalism and creative freedom, together with its renowned academic community and rigorous academic framework provide the ecosystem in which students flourish and achieve their highest potential.

College mission

The College received its Royal Charter as an Institution of University Status in 1967.

Our objectives are ‘to advance learning, knowledge and professional competence particularly in the fields of fine arts, in the principles and practice of art and design in their relation to industrial and commercial processes and social developments and other subjects relating thereto, through teaching, research and collaboration with industry and commerce’.

Our mission is as follows

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.

The RCA’s vision

  • Art, design, creative thinking, science, engineering and technology: all must collaborate to solve today’s global challenges.
  • The RCA champions the value of collaborative and interdisciplinary learning – as the first art and design university in the world to implement a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Design and Mathematics) vision.
  • We are committed to creating the next generation of creative leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. RCA students learn and collaborate in a way that encourages them to experiment, address key social issues and change the world around them.
  • The RCA not only designs and makes the world around us today: we also imagine the future and set about building it. The cross-disciplinary work of our students and staff is right now solving global challenges such as ageing populations, sustainability, rapid urbanisation and artificial intelligence.
  • We are committed to widening student access to, and participation in, postgraduate art and design education, and making sure that students are able to succeed. We believe in providing an outstanding education to talented individuals – regardless of background or financial circumstances.
  • We work with innovative organisations across the world to help our students understand and solve real-world problems – including Apple, British Airways, Logitech, EY, Burberry and CERN – as well as with local and community organisations, and leading influencers in the creative and cultural sectors, including the V&A and Design Museum.

Strategic Plan

Launching a new strategic plan brings with it ambition and optimism about the art of the possible – a chance to look back on achievements, and challenge ourselves about our next steps. We attract the most talented students who come to us as the world’s most influential postgraduate art and design school to have access to leading faculty and push the boundaries of their fields. The Strategic Plan 2022–27 is our roadmap to continue to do that – and so much more.

The Strategic Plan is our roadmap to continue to attract the most talented students, who come to us as the world’s most influential postgraduate art and design school.

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Our alumni

RCA alumni, numbering more than 20,000 all over the world, are recognised as leaders in their disciplines, making national and international headlines for shaping the world we live in.

They are sought after and highly prominent in a wide range of industries, from the Apple design studio in Cupertino, California, to the automotive sector in Sweden and Germany, to fashion in India and Italy.

Alumni include such major figures as Henry Moore OM, Dame Barbara Hepworth, Bridget Riley, David Hockney OM, Sir Peter Blake, Sir Ridley Scott, Dame Zandra Rhodes, Sir Frank Bowling, Ian Dury, Sir James Dyson OM, Tracey Emin RA CBE, Chris Ofili CBE, Sir Anthony Finkelstein, Sir David Adjaye, Erdem Moralioglu MBE,  Philip Treacy OBE, Julian MacDonald OBE, Christopher Bailey CBE and Thomas Heatherwick RDI, CBE.