Situated in southeast London next to the iconic O2 arena, Ravensbourne University London was established in 1959 originally as an arts school. More than 60 years later, it has evolved into a university focused on design and technology. It offers courses in fashion, television and broadcasting, interactive product design, architecture and environment design, graphic design, animation, film making, music production for media and sound design.
Ravensbourne is especially proud of the fact that 90% of its graduates are able to find jobs in their chosen fields. The school attributes that achievement to its partnerships with leading players in the creative and technology industries, as well as the up-to-date, “industry-ready” equipment that students use.
Last year, GMI Post met with Emma Shailer, the Director of Student Recruitment and Success of Ravensbourne, to find out how the university is adapting to rapid globalization and, until early 2020, to the disruption wrought by the SARS-Cov-2 global pandemic. Shailer is a veteran of higher education, international student recruitment and the creative industry.
GMI Post: Ravensbourne University London takes pride in how closely it works with different industries. How do those connections benefit your students?
Shailer: Our students graduate with the knowledge and confidence of seasoned professionals, as they have exposure to industry from the very beginning. Our students receive live briefs that are developed by industry specialists who occasionally come in and advise our students. Direct access to industry gives our students the ability and confidence to flourish after graduation.
We arrange internships with our industry partners, which improve our students’ long-term employability and have an in-house agency for small businesses.
We ask businesses to imagine what they’ll require from creatives in the next five to ten years. We then use this feedback to design our courses, ensuring the content is relevant and timely. We also have advisory boards that are made up of industry experts who advise us on our curriculum. These advisory board are key in making sure that we produce the graduates that the industry needs.
GMI Post: What is the culture nurtured by Ravensbourne among its students and faculty?
Shailer: Ravensbourne is an incredibly diverse university; our current cohort of students range from 95 nationalities. We have an inclusive, welcoming community, with students encouraged to celebrate their culture and let it inspire their creative journey.
A former student, Joshua Welch, designed an award-winning tribute to Chinese teahouse culture in the heart of London’s Chinatown, while student Malaika Munshi’s work explored her Indian heritage and the cultural stereotypes that are placed on women. These are just some examples of how our students’ heritage and worldview enrich their work.
We have a culture of transparency and teamwork, meaning that students are encouraged to work together across year groups and disciplines. Our award-winning main building has an open plan design that allows both students and staff to collaborate and socialize seamlessly.
We have a project called the Ravensbourne unit, where the usual curriculum pauses and students come together to work on their assigned live briefs, which could be on sustainability or climate change. By bringing together fashion and gaming students to work on one brief, we get to see very interesting solutions to modern challenges.
GMI Post: Why is it important for Ravensbourne to reach out more to Asian students, particularly Chinese and Japanese?
Shailer: Students and staff gain richer experiences and a deeper understanding of the world when they have a diverse cohort. We want to ensure that all of our students become global citizens by graduation, with cultural appreciation underpinning their creativity.
International students are important to Ravensbourne because they help us acquire a global perspective to problems and challenges. We believe the ability to learn about each other’s cultures and understand the different challenges we face has the power to shape the future of society.
GMI Post: With the current situation related to the global pandemic, how does Ravensbourne support its international students?
Shailer: We’re incredibly committed to supporting our students, particularly those who don’t live in the UK. We support our international student by having a strong Student Services team that can handle any enquiries. From financial advice to mental health support, our team are available remotely and are well versed in supporting international students. We’re experienced with the challenges students sometimes face so are equipped to help with the necessitates like opening a bank account and finding out about visas.
We’ve also organized special schemes of study for students who do not feel confident enough to travel at this time. We’ve been able to revise the curriculum to enable them to still learn online until they’re finally able to attend face-to-face classes.
Our academic staff have been exceptional at delivering our lessons online when needed. We’ve listened to our students and ensure their lessons are tailored to their specific needs. We do all we can to ensure that students enjoy the same quality of teaching whether online or in-person.
If you're studying for a year-long MA via distance learning, we offer a chance to spend the summer in London to experience the capital and it’s boundless opportunities. This gives students the chance to immerse themselves in London culture, feel inspired, and leave with a fresh perspective.
GMI Post: Why is Ravensbourne an excellent choice for Chinese students?Shailer: We have been endorsed by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China as an exceptional university. Our cutting-edge technology and excellent industry links with the global brands are enticing for students from around the world.
Our location on the Greenwich peninsula also means that we’re a part of London’s brand-new Design District. We’re opening a stunning new building this year, which will house the ‘Institute for Creativity and Technology’. Designed to connect academics, researchers, students and commercial partners, the Institute explores the interplay between creativity and will be an amazing asset for our students. We hope the new building will give an even greater opportunity for student to learn more from each other and the wider creative industry.
With one of the best creative graduate salary rates among specialist universities in the UK, we know our students will find success after graduation. We also have an excellent post-graduation employment rate, meaning students can trust that their career will begin as soon as they want it to.