Royal College of Art (RCA)

Located on two sites in Central London (South Kensington and Battersea), the Royal College of Art (RCA) is the only entirely postgraduate institution of university status devoted to research and knowledge exchange, teaching and practice in art, design, communication and humanities. Ranked as the world’s #1 university of art and design in the 2015/16 QS World University Rankings, the College has an august history in art and design education, numerous eminent graduates and a remarkable record of graduate employment. There are over 400 permanent academic, technical and administrative staff, with around 800 visiting lecturers.

Context

The Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholarship covers full international tuition fees along with a significant contribution towards living costs to study at a Master’s level for two years at the Royal College of Art in London. Candidates from the 23 countries (UAE, Turkey, Mexico, Singapore, Algeria, Brunei, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand and Tunisia) in which the Abraaj Group operates are eligible to apply.

“We needed to find a solution to connect a very geographically diverse shortlist of candidates to an external panel of seven

sector experts in the arts world from all over the globe while allowing the RCA to retain control in the middle.

We also wanted to make things simple and effective for the selection panel so as not to intrude on their time too much.” – Daniel Tasker, Student Advisor – Finance and Scholarships

Daniel Tasker, Student Advisor – Finance and Scholarships at RCA, maintains that live video interviewing was not a viable option given the volume of scheduling required along with time zones differences.

Key Findings

  • Global Candidate Pool
  • Global Panel of Judges
  • Personality & Passion

Some of the Highlights

“Ultimately we wanted to enable students to demonstrate their knowledge, passion and potential. One particular applicant just wowed everyone with his sheer enthusiasm and passion, which came across much stronger on video than in the written submissions.” – Daniel Tasker

Having relied solely on paper applications the previous year, Tasker maintains it was “hard for candidates to show passion and so much written material also made it difficult to get engagement from the panel.”

RCA enjoyed a 100% response rate from the long-listed candidates vying for one of the five scholarships. The introduction of asynchronous video interviewing has also been favourably received by the judging panel who had both flexibility in how they viewed/collaborated along with being able to really assess the applicants’ personalities and passion.

“Scholarships have become increasingly important in higher education today which brings with it the challenge of securing donors. Being able to present a system of assessment which is innovative, sharp, and professionally presented reflects well on us and sets us apart from competing institutions.” – Daniel Tasker

The feedback from the who’s who of world art that made up the judging panel was very positive with comments such as “professional”, “easy to use”, “fitted in with our schedules”, “flexibility”.

Conclusion

“Such an innovative use of the technology along with the RCA branding on the Sonru portal reflects not just our image but the values and innovative way of working here at RCA.”

Daniel Tasker, Student Advisor – Finance & Scholarships