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Royal College of Art suspends first year of course due to staff shortage

Closure is latest upset for college criticised by some for being too “business-like”

The Royal College of Art (RCA), one of the UK’s leading art and design schools, has suspended admissions for this year’s design interactions course due to a shortage of teaching staff. It is the latest upset to hit the college, which has been accused by students and tutors of becoming too business-like in the face of government cuts.

“Several tutors left this summer instead of working their notices until December,” says an alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous. A spokeswoman for the RCA says the college had “put in place arrangements” shortly before the end of the summer term, but that “the situation changed again and we made the decision to focus on the continuing students”.

The college was set to lose £750,000 “because of not being able to fulfil the quota for new overseas students across all programmes”, the alumnus says, adding that the closure of the design interactions course to first years accounted for £300,000 of that total.

According to the spokeswoman for the RCA, the situation has improved. “That was a snapshot early in the year. Recruitment has continued and this is no longer the case. In addition, the majority of applicants from design interactions have now opted to join another programme beginning this academic year,” she says.

Over the past year, a number of senior and teaching staff have stepped down from the RCA. They include Anthony Dunne, the head of the design interactions course, and Fiona Raby, a tutor in the department, who both resigned in March but fulfilled their notice periods.