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UAL 2nd in the world for art and design for 3rd year running

Zoe Sujin Lee, 2020 BA Fashion Design with Marketing, Central Saint Martins, UAL, Photograph: So Yuul
  • Written byUAL Communications
  • Published date03 March 2021
Zoe Sujin Lee, 2020 BA Fashion Design with Marketing, Central Saint Martins, UAL, Photograph: So Yuul
Zoe Sujin Lee, 2020 BA Fashion Design with Marketing, Central Saint Martins, UAL, Photograph: So Yuul, Zoe Sujin Lee, 2020 BA Fashion Design with Marketing, Central Saint Martins, UAL, Photograph: So Yuul

For the 3rd year in a row, we have ranked 2nd for Art and Design in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021, next to fellow London institution the Royal College of Art, which is dedicated to postgraduate studies. UAL offers pre-degree, undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Following an extraordinary year, which has seen the sector address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainties of Brexit, this ranking further cements our reputation as the global leader for undergraduate art and design courses and the resilience of London as a destination for creatives.

In 2020/21 our community of students and academics turned their attention to the ways they could respond to COVID-19. In the early stages of the pandemic, staff and students transformed their homes into places of PPE production; sewing masks for vulnerable people and scrubs for healthcare teams. Academics across UAL have been working to lead or contribute to UK and EU-funded research and Knowledge Exchange projects and workstreams which respond to different aspects of the global crisis. Projects have included:

  • People’s PPE: Led by Helen Storey, Professor in Fashion Science, London College of Fashion and Professor Tony Ryan, University of Sheffield, the project teams artists and scientists with UNCHR and Syrian refugees in Za’atari refugee camp to manufacture hand hygiene products, reusable masks, shields and gowns. Funded by UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund.
  • New opportunities for performers in Covid-19: Through her research and development in collaboration with Imperial College and Royal College of Music, Dr Vali Lalioti, Programme Director, UAL Creative Computing Institute, leads on VR Rehearse & Perform: a new platform to create fresh opportunities for the UK’s performers whose work is affected by the ongoing pandemic. Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council

Read about further UAL research and KE projects addressing COVID-19.

We also continues to lead the way in producing business leaders. A 2021 study found more than a fifth (22.5%) of our graduates are now in business leadership roles while topping the list for the university most likely to produce entrepreneurs. More than 1 in 10 (13.7%) of our graduates went on to form their own business.

In 2020, Sir Nigel Carrington announced his intention to step down as Vice-Chancellor of UAL. Sir Nigel is the University’s third and longest serving Vice-Chancellor, joining in 2008 soon after UAL gained university status. During 13 years at UAL, he has transformed UAL’s standing nationally and internationally and has been a powerful advocate for creative education. His successor, James Purnell joined UAL on 1 March 2021 as President & Vice-Chancellor Designate for a month-long transition period with Sir Nigel, who remains in office until 31 March 2021.

London remains a uniquely attractive destination to live, study and work and throughout this challenging period, we have continued to see students from all over the globe choose to study at UAL – in person and remotely. To retain our status, during a year in which we had to reimagine and transform the institution to deliver teaching and expertise digitally, is a credit to our staff and students. Their resilience and ingenuity has demonstrated the enduring value of a creative education at UAL.

— Sir Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor

About QS World Rankings

QS Art & Design rankings are based on academic reputation and employer reputation. The rankings, compiled by global higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds, provide authoritative comparative analysis on the performance of 14,435 individual university programmes, taken by students at 1,452 universities in 83 locations across the world, across 48 academic disciplines and 5 broad faculty areas.

Academic Reputation – looks at which institutions are most-highly regarded by the global academic community. The scores for this indicator are based on over 94,000 responses to QS’s Academic Survey – the world’s largest repository of global academic sentiment.

Employer Reputation – examines which institutions are regarded by the world’s hiring managers as nurturing the most talented, hireable graduates. The dataset for this indicator is derived from insights offered by over 44,000 hiring managers – the world’s largest repository of informed employer opinion about graduate strength.


Image: Zoe Sujin Lee, 2020 BA Fashion Design with Marketing, Central Saint Martins, UAL, Photograph: So Yuul