The University of the Arts London: Navigating Political Turbulence and Thriving in the Creative Arts Sector

The University of the Arts London (UAL), a specialized institution in the creative arts, has managed to flourish despite the challenges posed by government policies and the changing political climate. James Purnell, the vice-chancellor of UAL, believes that the key to success lies in capitalizing on the university’s strengths.

With famous names like Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Arts, and the London College of Fashion under its umbrella, UAL has become a leading institution in the creative arts sector. While other institutions focusing on creative and visual arts have struggled due to funding cuts and a shift towards STEM subjects and graduate employment, UAL has experienced growth. It currently enrolls over 21,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students from 130 countries across its six colleges.

The university’s position in the Guardian University Guide has also improved over the years. It has climbed from 45th place to 15th place, its highest ever ranking. This rise can be attributed to factors such as strong staff-student ratios, increased spending, higher student entry grades, and lower drop-out rates.

At the subject level, UAL excels in interior design, animation and games design, fine arts, textiles and design, graphic design, and product design. The university is also known for its marketing and public relations course.

Despite frozen domestic tuition fees since 2016, UAL has managed to afford its operations. Purnell attributes this to a financial formula that directs more funding towards teaching and learning and the higher tuition fees paid by international students. The university’s significant international recruitment has provided it with a higher unit of resource, allowing it to allocate more money to teaching and learning.

Contrary to the misconception that international students take away places from UK students, Purnell argues that international students actually help sustain the education system. The financial loss incurred on each UK student is covered by the higher tuition fees paid by international students. Additionally, international students contribute a significant portion of the university system’s costs, which would otherwise burden British taxpayers and graduates.

UAL has also taken measures to support its students amid the cost of living crisis. It has increased hardship funds, provided bursaries, and addressed the high cost of materials for arts students.

Despite the challenges of studying in London, UAL continues to attract a large number of applicants. The university receives over 60,000 applications for just over 9,000 places, reflecting its competitive intake and the efforts made to enhance the student experience and success.

UAL prides itself on offering a unique model of education that fosters creativity, innovation, and a better world. The university emphasizes the growth and opportunities available to its students in the creative arts sector.