Spotlight on… Ravensbourne University London

Join us on a tour of Ravensbourne University London. Christopher Costigan, University Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer, offers insights into the creative and digital arts university, which celebrates alumni such as David Bowie, Stella McCartney, and Andi Osho.

When did Ravensbourne become a university?

Ravensbourne is a very new university. It only attained Degree Awarding Powers in 2017.

Prior to that, it was an arts college in Kent. However, an ambitious former Principal decided to turn it into a Higher Education Corporation about 15 years ago, and moved it to the Greenwich Peninsula.

Can you describe the campus?

Ravensbourne is based in a main building right next to the O2 Arena.

We are about to open our second building, the Institute of Creativity and Technology, in the Design District, a few minutes’ walk away from the main building.

We also work with the local businesses, particularly around graduation, on student Degree Shows. So you could say our campus is the Greenwich Peninsula!

How many students does Ravensbourne have?

We have about 2,600 students, almost exclusively on undergraduate courses, and almost exclusively domestic, with most coming from the local community.

We are looking to broaden our portfolio of postgraduate and research programmes. The aforementioned new Institute is a key vehicle through which we will grow these areas.

As we recruit from our local community, we have a very diverse student community of which we are very proud.

Is Ravensbourne known for particular areas of study?

Ravensbourne is known as a creative and digital arts university. Our well-known programmes are in areas such as film and fashion.

We are currently growing our portfolio to evolve towards technology, so we now deliver programmes in computing, games design, UX, and UI.

In the future, we are looking at management programmes, particularly to support people as managers in the core creative and digital arts sectors that we serve.

What makes you particularly proud of Ravensbourne?

I’ve only been at Ravensbourne for a few months (and almost exclusively online!) so I’m yet to get under the skin of the university, or meet the students and see the student experience in action.

However, what attracted me to Ravensbourne was the ambition of the Board and Executive to grow, and the opportunity to work with creative people. On those two counts I have not been disappointed!

Which notable alumni have attended Ravensbourne?

We have lots!

For instance:

  • David Bowie
  • Stella McCartney
  • Clare Waight Keller – artistic director at Givenchy and the designer of Meghan Markle’s wedding dress
  • Andi Osho – comedian and actress with credits in Mock the Week and Line of Duty
  • Richard Howarth – Apple’s VP for industrial design.

Do you have a favourite spot on campus?

My favorite spot is the roof of the main building (the 10th floor). From there, you can see the top of the O2 and out into Canary Wharf and beyond.

Which challenges is Ravensbourne currently facing?

As an arts institution in London, we are being hit by the double whammy of a reduction in arts funding and the London weighting reduction.

Whilst sustainability is not keeping me awake at night, it does emphasise the need to diversify the portfolio, and grow our numbers to insulate us from government funding changes.

Is there anything else you would like to share about Ravensbourne?

Ravensbourne is a very special place.

If anyone would like to come and see it, or hear more, please get in touch. I’ll happily take you on a tour… just as soon as I figure out my own way around the building!

Christopher Costigan is the University Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer at Ravensbourne University London.