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A-Z Unis & Colleges

Royal College of Music


History: Founded in 1882 by the Prince of Wales - later Edward VII – the well known late Victorian playboy. Prince Albert had a vision, known as Albertropolis, to bring together the best of arts and science institutions in one square half-mile. Thus the Royal College of Art, the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Albert Hall and Imperial College were collected together next to the museums.

Address: Prince Consort Road, Kensington; surrounded on three sides by Imperial College.

Ambience: Compact site. Original purpose-built building is listed and contains a barrel-vaulted concert hall much admired by English Heritage – re-opened in March 2009 after a £5m major refurbishment. Close to many famous museums, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Albert Hall.

Who's the boss? Professor Colin Lawson is director. He is a well-known clarinettist and expert in early music.

Prospectus: 020 7589 3643, request it online here and follow @RCMLatest.

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Depends on your ability - all applicants are auditioned. You need two good A-levels, one of which must be music at grade C or above.

Vital statistics: It's a small conservatoire with around 700 students, including 200 postgraduates. 40 per cent come from overseas. The college offers its own BMus degree as well as a BSc in physics and musical performance in partnership with Imperial College.

Added value: Exceptional collection of manuscripts, musical instruments and music, as well as Europe's oldest keyboard instrument: a clavicytherium, or portrait harpsichord. It runs exchange schemes with a number of institutions across Europe and the US. Major addition in 1965 when more practice rooms and a recital hall were constructed in yellow brick. Centenary appeal in 1986 resulted in new Britten Theatre, designed by Sir Hugh Casson. More practice rooms added in 2008.

Teaching: Scored 86 per cent for student satisfaction in the most recent National Student Survey.

Research: Made the largest submission to and received the largest amount of research funding from the 2008 RAE exercise. It did not take part in the complete university guide 2012.

Any accommodation? Yes but a single room in halls costs between £125 and £144 per week without food.

Cheap to live there? Nope - private rents in the local area start at £100 per week.

Transport links: South Kensington and Gloucester Road tube stations; various buses.

Fees: The college charges the maximum tuition fee of £9,000 for its undergraduate degrees.

Bursaries: RCM scholarships are offered to students that have performed exceptionally well at audition. A non-repayable merit-based bursary is also available for students with a household income of less than £27,180.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: The student bar organises events, mainly on Friday nights. The hall of residence in Hammersmith houses 170 students, has good music rooms and is a social centre. Glamorous summer ball. Rag Week in February is energetic. Oh, and it's in London, so there's a few things to do there.

Sporting reputation: Known for music not sport but Imperial College lend their indoor pool and gym to RCM students.

Glittering alumni: Composers Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten; Mark-Anthony Turnage; Julian Anderson; singers Dame Joan Sutherland, Sir Thomas Allen, Andrew Kennedy, Elizabeth Watts; James Galway, flautist; Sir Colin Davis, conductor.