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Each year the global university analysts at QS publish a list of the world’s best universities for 51 subjects, with 2021’s ranking facing tough conditions because of the pandemic. The analysts’ list again identified the best universities and colleges for the creative subjects of art and design. Though the conditions in which students study vary significantly from country to country due to temporary school closures, digital learning and general lockdowns, the institutions were still rated based on the same quantitative criteria: reputation in the academic field, reputation among employers (both studied through surveys) and research impact. The ranking of the best universities and colleges for art and design subjects has not changed much compared to previous years.

The Royal College of Art came in at first place for the seventh year in a row, while the top ten only had one new entry in the form of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Parsons School of Design, which came in third last year, has dropped out of the top ten and The New School is listed in 14th place. The top ten places are as follows: (1) Royal College of Art, UK; (2) University of the Arts London, UK; (3) Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), US; (4) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US; (5) Politecnico di Milano, Italy; (6) Aalto University, Finland; (7) School of the Art Institute of Chicago, US; (8) The Glasgow School of Art, UK; (9) Pratt Institute, US; and (10) Art Center College of Design, US. Places 11 to 20 are occupied by Delft University of Technology and Design Academy Eindhoven, both in the Netherlands; Tongji University in Shanghai, Goldsmiths in London, RMIT in Melbourne, The New School, Cal Arts, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford in the US; and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) only came in at 41st place due to the study’s English language perspective.

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