Global honour for Scots drama school where Richard Madden, Sam Heughan and Alan Cumming studied

The Scottish drama school where Richard Madden, Robert Carlyle, James McAvoy, Sam Heughan, Daniela Nardini, David Tennant and Alan Cumming all trained has been named one of the world’s three best places to learn to be a performer.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 9:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th March 2021, 8:10 pm
Actor Richard Madden received an honorary degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2019.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, which offers courses in dance, drama, music, production and film, has been named alongside the Juilliard School in New York and the Royal College of Music in London in new international rankings.

The institution, which dates back to 1847, stages around 600 different performances each year.

It has been rated ahead of the Conservatoire de Paris, the University of the Arts Helsinki in Finland and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in the World University Rankings for Performing Arts.

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Many of Scotland’s leading stage and screen stars, including David Hayman, Elaine C Smith, Denis Lawson, Bill Paterson, Dawn Steele and Jack Lowden, studied at the RCS, which was previously known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Graduates to have made their names in recent years include screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who co-wrote the award-winning First World War movie 1917, which was honoured at the BAFTAs and Golden Globes last year and Ncuti Gatwa, one of the stars of hit Netflix comedy Sex Education, which won him a BAFTA Scotland award last year.

The RCS has official parnerships with the National Theatre of Scotland, Scottish Ballet, RSNO, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Ensemble, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Opera, and launched a new online platform, RCS at Home, in response to the pandemic.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, principal of the RCS, said: “It is especially gratifying to achieve this recognition at a time of great challenge to the arts in a global pandemic.

Outlander star Sam Heughan during a visit to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2017.

"It is a tribute to our entire 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.”

Nick Kuenssberg, chair of the conservatoire’s board, said: ““Many congratulations to 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.

"This recognition reinforces our continuing reputation as an international centre of excellence for performing arts education.”

During a previous visit, Sam Heughan, who shot to fame as the star of time-travel fantasy series Outlander, which is filmed in Scotland, said: My training gave me opportunities to work in Scotland, the UK and now in America where I spend a lot of time.

“The conservatoire knows and understands this industry, the teaching staff have great relationships and partnerships with national theatre companies, directors, agents and casting agents.”

McAvoy, who helped the RCS launch a new scholarship campaign last year, said at the time: “At this time, possibly more ever, the arts and artists need to be seen and heard and recognised for the essential contribution they make. We’re still here, as are the next generation. That’s why access to arts education is so valuable and should be accessible to all, regardless of background.”

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