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Young designer and royal pose with a group of models

UK leads the world for creative education as UAL is named in global top two

Written by Cat Cooper
Published date 27 February 2019

2019 QEII Award winner London College of Fashion, UAL alumna Bethany Williams with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and models at LFW Credit Getty Images

University of the Arts London (UAL) has risen to 2nd place in the QS World University Rankings by subject 2019, up from 6th place in 2018. UAL’s academic and employer reputation have risen year-on-year in the Rankings, which are the largest worldwide survey of academic and industry opinion.

UAL and its graduates make a significant contribution to the UK creative industries, which broke the £100 billion barrier in 2018. According to UUK data, creative arts and design is the fourth most popular subject area for international students in the UK.

The UK now leads the world with the top two spots for Art and Design, with UAL placed alongside fellow London institution the Royal College of Art (RCA), which is dedicated to postgraduate studies.

UAL Vice-Chancellor Nigel Carrington said:

UAL feeds the worldwide demand for creativity in the arts, in industry, in government and civil society. Alongside specialist institutions across the UK, we are addressing the important challenges of the age, including AI and the Data Economy, Clean Growth, and skills shortages in augmented, virtual and mixed reality.

However, the international standing of British creative education is at risk. We look to the Government to renew its commitment to teaching art and design in schools and to guarantee our global network of international and EU staff and students.

UAL Chancellor Grayson Perry said:

It’s great to see UAL shoot up the rankings to claim the number two spot in the world for Art and Design. It’s a testament to the incredible talent of UAL that has shaped the visionaries, renegades and pioneers that fuel the world’s need for creativity. It’s a brilliant result.

UAL Chair David Isaac OBE said:

This exceptional performance confirms that UAL is a world leader in art and design education and an assurance that we are delivering real value in the international creative economy. On behalf of the Court of Governors of UAL, I would like to pay tribute to the hard work and commitment of everyone at UAL.

Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries Justine Simons said:

The outstanding performance of our world-leading universities in art and design show exactly why London is the creative capital of the world. UAL and the Royal College of Art are helping to create the next generation of artists and creative leaders to drive our economy and show the world that London is open to fresh talent, ideas and creativity.

Ben Sowter, Director of Research at QS, said:

For those anxious about the fortunes of the UK’s world-leading higher education sector, this year’s rankings will provide some reassurance that the sector’s performance remains highly competitive, and that students and faculty alike are contributing to world-class universities across a range of disciplines. However, the research data used to compile this edition was collected between 2013 and 2018, and the impact that our imminent exit from the European Union will have on UK performance is still unknown.

Read the story in the Evening Standard: 26 February 2019

About the QS World Rankings

QS Art & Design rankings are based on academic reputation and employer reputation. Other subjects add measures for research by citations and productivity, but these are not applied to Art & Design because our research methodology is so different.

The QS World University Rankings 2019 compared 1,222 institutions worldwide across 5 subject areas and 48 individual subjects. The rankings are based on a number of factors, including academic reputation; employer reputation after students leave university; staff to student ratio; the research and academic paper quality coming out of the university (measured by the number of citations they get from other academic papers); and the amount of international staff and students.

QS analysed the opinions of 83,877 academics, who nominated 1,258,811 institutions as well as over 22 million research papers and close to 200 million citations. QS also analysed the responses of 42,862 employers, who submitted 199,123 nominations via their Employer Survey.

QS Reputational surveys indicate that UAL and first-placed RCA are held in higher esteem among academics in the field than any other institutions in the world, achieving the two highest scores for their Academic Reputation indicator. The reputational surveys make use of five years of data, so the results are a testament to the increasing regard in which UAL is being held, and the progressive strides it has made over five years. UAL has generally achieved scores in the mid-to-high eighties, but this year breaks 90.0/100 for the first time.