Statement from the RCA Student Support Office
We’re really pleased with how the process has gone and the outcomes are now being communicated to students. We asked for applications from students, which included several questions regarding their financial situation, and crucially also detailed evidence. The evidence we asked for included bank statements (with annotations for transactions over £100 where the nature was not clear on the bank statements), proof of rent, evidence of any change of circumstance, and also some evidence/information regarding travel costs, social spend, and also existing funding. The process was not looking at all at academic performance so we did not ask for any letters of support from tutors; we wanted to focus on the practicalities of living costs. The way we described the criteria on the application form was as follows
We will prioritise and assess students on the following criteria;
1 – Evidence of a change of circumstance that makes funding their second year more difficult than they originally expected.
2 – Realistic efforts made to fund their studies; ie, a financial plan.
3 – Evidence of actual hardship based on spending, balances, and savings
The panel was made up of three people, two from Student Support and one from Registry.
Each application was given a score by each of the three panel members separately, looking at specific areas. The scores of the three people were combined and allocations were made based on that. The distribution of awards was weighted heavily towards the higher end of the scale as I wanted to focus very specifically on people who the panel felt had a genuine risk of non-completion, particularly if their situation was made worse by significant factors beyond their control.
As a result of this fund (which I believe is the biggest hardship-related fund that the RCA has ever made available via open applications), we have over 45 second year students who will have their fees covered in full (in combination with the existing College Bursary). We have also been able to offer lesser awards to around 35 other students. The percentage of applicants made awards is roughly 40% of those who applied.
It is also worth noting that whilst the majority of money came (indirectly) from HEFCE we also used the same process to allocate money from the RCA Fund Bursaries and also the Fine Art Fund (Fine Art students clearly were the only people considered for these awards which include 12 awards of £3k each). The College Bursary of £3000, which the majority of EU/UK students receive, is completely separate to the Continuation Fund.
I’m pleased that we were able to implement a fair, transparent, and evidence-based assessment method that gives the people in the most genuine need the best possible opportunity to complete their studies.