SO…. The college invited us to sit in on this year’s first council meeting, in which we discuss the strategic plan for the college over the next five years.
Really interesting, since it took place in a part of the culture of the college that we as students don’t normally see until the pomp and circumstance of graduation:
We know, right?!
During this meeting we discussed such exciting tidbits like – how well the strategic plan over the last 5 years worked, the direction for the new one over the next five years, and the challenges the college faces in coming up with new income for its projects and activities, particularly as government funding rapidly decreases for higher education.
Unfortunately, we are not able to disclose all the details of what happened in the discussion because a lot of it is strictly confidential. However, important questions which we discussed were:
What kind of standards should the college set for student experience?
How does the college support underprivileged students, despite rising costs of tuition?
How are new programmes evaluated as “successful” and “well-established”?
The college aims to establish itself as an internationally reputed educational institution by forming partnerships overseas and attracting overseas students. But what kind of measures does it take to create an internationally recognised curriculum? How is it international in ethos, rather than just diverse?
What were the results of the space survey which we all (hopefully) filled out in the last term? Assessing the proper usage of space in the college, how can facilities be improved?
What are the priorities for the next strategic plan? Is it the postgraduate taught experience, knowledge exchange (staff research & ties to industry), or innovation?
What is the culture of research and practice at the RCA for staff?
But it seems the crux of the discussion was:
What is the essential ethos of the Royal College of Art? Is it a small, materially focused, intimate, and highly specialised institution in Albertopolis? Or can it become a dynamic, innovative, widespread, and powerful institution of the 21st century?
More urgently, which direction will sustain the college, its reputation, and quality of education, despite financial pressures?
We learned about a lot of ideas on the table for the college for 2015-2020, and being a part of the panel that debated how speculative changes would impact onto the college & its students allowed us a glimpse into the very different forces which govern the college.
Our question to you is – what do students want the ethos of the RCA to be? Why did you choose to come here? Was it for its intimacy and materiality, or for its status as a driving force of innovation?