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Shining star: Scots performing arts school named third best in the world

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IT has been teaching budding performers for more than 170 years and has seen some of Scotland’s brightest talents pass through its doors.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has long been recognised as one of the foremost performing arts schools in UK, with an alumni including stars such as David Tennant, Richard Madden, Robert Carlyle, and Elaine C Smith.

However, the Glasgow institution has now gone on to achieve worldwide recognition, being named the third best destination for artistic training in the entire world.

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The conservatoire has been named in the top 3 of the 2021 QS World University Rankings alongside the prestigious Juilliard School in New York and London’s Royal College of Music.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, principal of the conservatoire, said the ranking highlighted the dedication of staff who have worked hard to keep things going throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “It is especially gratifying to achieve this recognition at a time of great challenge to the arts in a global pandemic.

“It is a tribute to the entire RCS community of students and staff who continue to show such creativity and determination to keep the arts flourishing and developing.

“This exciting news demonstrates that our wider community places faith and trust in our conservatoire to be a place where the arts will continue to tell our shared stories and help rebuild our bonds of society.”

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Established in 1847, the conservatoire started life as the Glasgow Athenaeum and was formally opened by Charles Dickens.

For the first 39 years, it only offered music classes until drama was introduced to the curriculum in 1886.

The school now offers specialist tuition across music, drama, dance, production, film and education at undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD levels.

It is one of the only institutions in Europe to teach such a wide variety of performing arts at one site.

The QS World University Rankings offer analysis of the performance of more than 14,000 university programmes across 1,452 universities.

It is considered to be the world’s most-consulted university ranking and looks at academic standing, research performance and graduate employability as metrics of institutional performance.

The conservatoire has previously featured in the top 10 for performing arts, but this is its highest ranking to date.

Other institutions in the 2012 top ten include the Conservatoire de Paris, University of the Arts Helsinki and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Nick Kuenssberg OBE, Chair of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Many congratulations to Principal Jeffrey Sharkey and all his staff, teaching and professional, at Scotland’s national conservatoire for this wonderful achievement, the more so because this has been an immensely challenging year for the performing arts.

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“This recognition reinforces the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s continuing reputation as an international centre of excellence for performing arts education.”

The conservatoire describes itself as a centre of performance, with purpose-built venues and a long-established list of partnerships with national arts companies, including the BBC, National Theatre of Scotland, Scottish Ballet, RSNO, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Ensemble, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Opera.

Its other former students include conductor Ryan Bancroft, Harry Potter star Katie Leung and actors David Hayman, Sam Heughan and Alan Cumming.

In March 2020, the institution launched a new online platform, RCS at Home, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It resulted in students, staff and alumni creating hundreds of pieces of digital content, including new theatre productions, ballet performances and concerts.

The school has also launched a scholarship campaign – #wearestillhere – calling for support for students and the arts.

It has been backed by former student James McAvoy who has narrated a short film in support.

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