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The RSA Student Design Awards (SDAs) is the world’s longest standing, most pioneering design curriculum and competition for emerging designers, having run for over 90 years. University students and recent graduates anywhere in the world can enter the 2015/16 Awards, which challenges participants to tackle pressing social, environmental and economic issues. The deadline for entries is 5pm GMT on 10th March.

At the RSA we believe that design thinking can transform the way we approach complex and systemic challenges. Now in its 92nd year, the annual RSA Student Design Awards issues project briefs that inspire students to think differently about the boundaries and purpose of design, and the winning entrants receive paid industry placements, financial support and RSA Fellowship to help kick-start their budding careers. 

Young designers from all disciplines now have a 6-week window to submit their work into the 2015/16 RSA competition via – the final deadline for entries is 5pm GMT on 10th March 2016, and there’s an early bird deadline with a reduced £25 entry fee on 10th February.

There are 12 design briefs in this year’s competition, developed in partnership with industry sponsors including the likes of Airbnb, Unilever, Philips, Fazer, GlaxoSmithKline, Waitrose, RBS, Springetts, PriestmanGoode and the Office for Disability Issues – view and download the 2015/16 briefs here. All of the briefs are focused around pressing, real-world issues facing society, the environment and business – this year’s topics include radically reducing food waste (Waste Not, Want Not), empowering people to manage their money better (Mind Your Money), improving healthcare provision in Sub-Saharan Africa (AfricaPack), and designing ways to keep the sharing economy fair (Fair Share).

Who can enter?

The 12 briefs in this year's competition are open to entries from:

  • Currently enrolled students studying on any recognised higher education course, anywhere in the world
  • Recent graduates, who graduated since March 2015
  • Individual and team entries – the fee is per entry, not per person

How do you enter?

All submissions should be made digitally via the submissions form on the RSA Student Design Awards website, and see the FAQs page for further details on submissions and eligibility.

How does the judging work?

Each brief is judged in two stages at the RSA House in London by a tailored panel of designers and industry experts: anonymous shortlisting, followed by interviews with finalists. The full list of judges will be announced in the coming weeks – for now, check out last year’s judges to get a sense of who will be involved (many of them will be judging again this year) and read more about the judging process here.

When will you announce the winners?

The results will be announced publicly on 1st June 2016. Winners will be featured on our online Showcase, and we’ll have a big Awards celebration at the RSA on 23rd June – you can read about last year’s awards ceremony and take a look at some pics here.

What do the actual Awards consist of?

Winning entrants receive practical and financial support to develop their careers; this year’s Awards include over £32,000 in cash prizes and paid internships, including placements at Philips, Waitrose, PriestmanGoode, Springetts, and BuroHappold Engineering. Winners are also presented with a weighty ‘stepping stone’ physical award (designed by the Royal Designer for Industry Robin Levien) at the Awards Ceremony. On top of that, they get lots of media exposure and receive complementary RSA Fellowship, which means they have access to the RSA’s networks and resources. 

Need more info?

Visit the RSA Student Design Awards website, follow @RSADesignAwards for Twitter updates, and email if you have a question for a member of the team.


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