The world as we know it is shaped by design. Everything man-made is the product of the efforts of designers who shape our experiences through carefully designed objects that we interact with in our day-to-day living. That said, it is no surprise that design careers are very lucrative and highly rewarding.

The first step toward becoming a designer is choosing a school, a choice that has a significant impact on one’s future. We’ve compiled a list of the best design schools in the UK to help you find the one that’s best for you. Read on and discover your best options.

Top Design Schools in the United Kingdom

1. Royal College of Art

The Royal College of Art is hailed by the QS World University Rankings as the best school in the world for its arts and design schools roundup in 2022. The RCA is a public research university in London with locations in Kensington, Battersea, and White City. The university is the only institution in the UK that offers cutting-edge specialist facilities for international students interested in learning avant-garde design technologies.

It offers a range of postgraduate degrees such as MA, MRes, MPhil, and Ph.D. across a wide variety of disciplines which include Architecture, Contemporary Art, Fashion, Textile, Industrial Design, Experience Design, and Product Design.

Aspiring students will be required to submit a portfolio of works that showcase creative ability and technical accomplishments, with a preference for those who can work in multidisciplinary teams.

2. University of the Arts London

Second place in the QS World University Rankings for Arts and Design Schools in 2022 is the University of Arts London. On its website, the university humorously refers to itself as “the world’s biggest factory for making trouble”, home of the creators and innovators of tomorrow.

These claims are supported by the prestigious status of the university which rests upon the achievements of its brilliant alumni — more than sixty-six percent of those hailed as British Designer of the Year are UAL graduates, including the fashion icon Alexander McQueen. In addition, two-fifths of all Turner Prize recipients since its inception in 1984 come from the university.

The university is made up of six colleges that offer pre-degree, undergraduate, postgraduate, and research degrees in a vast selection of art and design disciplines with promising career options in various industries for international students.

3. Glasgow School of Art

The Glasgow School of Art is recognized internationally as one of the finest schools for visual creative disciplines in Europe and the world, as attested by its 11th-place finish on the QS World University Rankings for Arts and Design 2022 and its proclamation by The Guardian as the 5th best school for graphic design in the UK in 2023.

Since its foundation in 1854, the Glasgow School of Art has consistently attracted highly talented individuals and produced alumni who are recognized for their excellence such as the architect Charles Rennie Macintosh, entertainment industry giants Robbie Coltrane and Peter Capaldi, the artist Margaret MacDonald, and the novelist Alasdair Gray.

At present, the university is one of the few remaining independent art schools in the UK, offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in a variety of design disciplines for international students that are studio-based, specialized, and practice-led.

4. Goldsmiths, University of London

Goldsmiths is a constituent research university of the University of London which was founded in 1891 by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths as the “The Goldsmiths’ Technical and Recreative Institute”. From its initial focus on goldsmithing, jeweler techniques, and artisanal practices, the university now offers programs for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in an impressive array of disciplines in the arts, humanities, social sciences, business, and computing.

The university is hailed by The Guardian as the fourth best university for design and crafts in the UK, and international students with a strong interest in the aforementioned fields would do well to choose Goldsmiths’ College for their prospective design school.

The university brands itself as a diverse and close-knit community with a rich academic heritage and an intellectually stimulating place with world-leading research and high-quality teaching across all of its 20 academic departments.

5. Loughborough University

Loughborough University is hailed as one of the top schools for art and design in the UK, owing to the exemplary and impressive performance of its School of Arts, English, and Drama. International students seeking to study in a reputable design school in the UK should consider Loughborough University for their selection, as it has a stellar reputation for being the 5th best art and design university in the UK and 27th in the world according to the QS World University Rankings.

The university has an impressive 440-acre campus with almost 20,000 students from 145 countries, which makes it a cultural hotpot and a truly diverse international community, and a global learning environment.

Loughborough University offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in a variety of disciplines such as Integrated Industrial Design, Graphic Design and Visualization, and Design and Creative Arts.

FAQS About Studying Design in the UK

Can International students enroll in Design Schools in the United Kingdom?

Yes, international students can enroll in design schools in the UK. Most schools are equipped and ready to take on international students on campus or even through online or hybrid learning setups.

Since English is the official language in the UK, international students with English as a second language will surely be able to assimilate into their academic communities and absorb lessons accordingly. The UK is also a very diverse place with people from various racial and cultural backgrounds, and international students may find communities of their countrymen in their locations and find a piece of home away from home.

 

With design being at the forefront of modern living, it only makes sense that the most rewarding careers can be found in this field. Choosing the best school is the first step towards such a career.

 

We hope that this article will serve as a good source of information about the best design schools in the UK! For more information about UK universities and scholarship opportunities, check out our UK Scholarships Page!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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