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London’s Arts Educational Schools tops drama school satisfaction tables

Arts Ed students performing in a musical production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Photo: Robin Savage Arts Ed students performing in a musical production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Photo: Robin Savage
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Arts Educational Schools London has been ranked as the top drama school for overall student satisfaction in the 2017 National Student Survey.

At the institution, which chose to enter the survey for the first time this year, 97% of students were pleased with their training.

Manchester School of Theatre, which has topped the table for the previous two years, came in at second place with a score of 96%.

Chris Hocking, principal of Arts Ed, said: “We are continually reviewing and refining our acting and musical theatre courses to ensure that the training we provide is of the highest quality and prepares students for the particular demands of today’s industry. Our students have always had a strong and positive voice within Arts Ed and we are delighted that this is now reflected in the National Student Survey results.”

David Shirley, director of the Manchester School of Theatre, said: “All of the staff in the School of Theatre are delighted with the positive NSS results, which pay tribute to the the dedication and the commitment they all bring to the training we offer our students.”


Student satisfaction at drama schools

  • Arts Educational Schools – 97%
  • Manchester School of Theatre – 96%
  • ALRA – 93%
  • East 15 – 91%
  • Birmingham Conservatoire – 91%
  • Guildhall School of Music and Drama – 90%
  • The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts – 90%
  • Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts Limited – 89%
  • Conservatoire for Dance and Drama – 87%
  • Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance – 86%
  • Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama – 86%
  • Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance – 83%
  • Guildford School of Acting – 74%

Other institutions to score highly were ALRA in London and Wigan, East 15 in Essex, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which all had scores of 90% or above.

Kieran Sheehan, vice principle at ALRA, which was also part of the survey for the first time this year, said: “Our engagement with the NSS for the first time has been a positive experience overall. The NSS offers us a tool to diagnose how we are doing as an organisation, continuing to centre our process of change and transformation through the student experience.”

Guildford School of Acting, which is part of Surrey University, scored lowest in the table with 74%, however the school’s student satisfaction score for its BA Acting course was 100%.

The Conservatoire for Dance and Drama – which incorporates eight drama and dance schools including RADA and LAMDA – came in at eighth place with an overall score of 87%.

Some drama schools, including East 15 and the Manchester School of Theatre, are part of larger institutions and therefore provided The Stage with isolated figures for their schools.

Drama Centre London was not able to provide this figure in time. It should be noted that course sizes at institutions vary, and some institutions’ NSS scores are based on just one course while others are based on a number of different courses.

The NSS is conducted by Higher Education Funding Council England and surveys 155 universities in the UK, with final-year undergraduate students able to participate.

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and the Royal Conservatoire Scotland are not included in the results due to a boycott organised by the National Union of Students.

Many of the schools also provided the scores for their BA acting course, with Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Guildford School of Acting scoring 100%.

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance scored 96% on its musical theatre course.


BA acting course student satisfaction:

  • Birmingham Conservatoire – 100%
  • Guildford School of Acting – 100%
  • Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama – 100%
  • East 15 – 96%
  • Manchester School of Theatre – 96%
  • ALRA – 93%

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