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The RSA Student Design Awards is a global curriculum and annual competition for higher education students and recent graduates run by the RSA. Each year the Awards challenge emerging designers to tackle a range of design briefs focused on pressing social, environmental and economic issues.

The RSA Student Design Awards is a global competition focused around a set of project briefs that challenge participants to tackle the big issues of our time through design thinking.  

We work closely with industry partners to develop the briefs, we help colleges and universities embed them in their curricula, and we support participants through workshops and mentoring. Winners are rewarded with cash prizes, paid industry placements, complementary RSA Fellowships and a range of other benefits to kick-start their careers. The competition has helped identify ideas and talent that have had a huge impact in the world.

The competition is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled at any higher education institution, college or university anywhere in the world. New graduates can also enter within a year of graduating, and we accept entries from individuals and teams. Responses can come from any discipline or combination of disciplines, and can take any form – from product, communication and service proposals to spatial, environmental and experience solutions.

Our goal is to empower a generation of savvy, employable designers who realise the potential of design to benefit society.

History of the SDAs

The RSA Student Design Awards was established in 1924, making it the world’s longest-running student competition and the premier programme focused on design for social change.  

Learn more about the history of the RSA Student Design Awards from our Design for Good report, which charts the transformation of design education and the design industry from a collection of arts and crafts artisans in the early 20th century to today’s generation of creative and socially-responsive problem solvers.

Key facts

109,442 projects have been entered since the Awards began in 1924

2,086 briefs issued over the last 95 years

£32,000 in cash prizes and paid industry placements awarded in 2018/19 

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