RSA Competition – Student Design Awards 2016


The 2015-16 competition is officially open for entries! University students and recent graduates anywhere in the world can enter the 2015/16 Awards, which challenge participants to tackle pressing social, environmental and economic issues. The winning entrants will receive paid industry placements, financial support and RSA Fellowship to help kick-start their careers.

Young designers from all disciplines now have a 6-week window to submit their work via the digital form on this website – the final deadline for entries is 5pm GMT on 10th March 2016, and there’s an early bird deadline with a reduced £25 ($36.47) – entry fee on 10th February.

There are 12 design briefs in this year’s competition, developed in partnership with industry sponsors including 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 this website – click on the yellow ‘Submit Now’ button on the home page to access the form, 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 ($46, 685.82) in cash prizes and paid internships, including at Philips, PriestmanGoode, 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?

Take a look at our FAQs page, follow @RSADesignAwards for Twitter updates, or email if you have a question for a member of the team.

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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, a globally renowned charity committed to finding innovative, practical solutions to social problems.

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

We do this by running a competition that challenges students and recent graduates worldwide to think differently about design, through tackling briefs focused on real-world problems.

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 Fellowship and a range of other benefits to kick-start their careers.

We’re driven by our mission to enable, support and reward design that positively impacts the world. Since 1924 the RSA Student Design Awards has represented a growing voice for socially responsible design, with students participating in the UK and beyond.