Dr Lois Fitch joined the Royal Conservatoire from the Royal Northern College of Music in January 2018 to take up a new post as Assistant Principal. We caught up with her after her first six months to find out how she’s found life at Scotland’s national conservatoire.

What’s a typical day like for the Assistant Principal of Scotland’s national conservatoire?

There really is no such thing as a typical day here – that’s what makes the job so exciting. I can find myself meeting with colleagues, working on curriculum review documents, or out and about across Scotland, liaising with partners or working with Universities Scotland – every day is different.

There’s not many jobs that come with the luxury of being able to see so much performance throughout the week, and I try to see as much as I can – this definitely helps break up the typical day!

What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned since starting here in January?

Without a doubt, I’ve been blown away by the pride the students and staff have in the RCS as Scotland’s national conservatoire. This positioning gives RCS huge scope and responsibility for creating partnerships, opportunities and performance for the nation, and I can feel the sense of duty to the whole of Scotland that the institution carries.

I haven’t experienced working in a place which has such a national remit and it’s obvious how much this means to everyone here – this sense of identity gives RCS an edge and really does make it quite unlike anywhere I’ve worked or visited before.

What impact do you think being consistently recognised as one of the world’s top 10 performing arts education institutions has on RCS?

Being recognised as one of the best places to study the performing arts gives RCS huge visibility on the international landscape and it’s easy to see the impact this has had. Applications have risen to their highest ever level, we have students from more than 60 nations studying here, and more and more institutions and professional companies are coming to us to forge meaningful partnerships.

This world top 10 recognition allows us to create even more learning opportunities, and ensures we continue to maintain our high level of excellence across all disciplines.

What was it that drew you to RCS to want to work here?

That’s easy – the people! I had visited RCS several times before as an external examiner and I always had positive interactions with colleagues here so I jumped at the chance to be part of this team. Previously, as an outsider, I was struck by how student-centred the staff are at RCS, and that absolutely everything revolved around creating the best possible student experience.

It is an absolute joy to know the team who will be working with you and supporting you on a daily basis are as committed and forward thinking as the staff here.

As a non-Glaswegian, how have you found moving to Scotland’s biggest city?

I used to live in Edinburgh and have visited Glasgow loads in the past to see friends; I always loved Scotland so I can’t tell you how thrilled I was at the prospect of moving back up north. It’s been a revelation to see just how much is going on in Glasgow within the arts. Of course, most of my exploring so far has been with a three year old girl!

What I didn’t expect was just how at home I would feel here. Glasgow is so European in its outlook; much more than any other city I’ve lived in, and this feels right for me and my family. And of course, the RCS network stretches across the city in ways I hadn’t expected. On my first day in my new flat I discovered that my next door neighbour was an RCS graduate and CEO of Sistema Scotland – you really can make connections that easily in the city!

What’s been the biggest challenge of the role so far?

I joined at a particularly busy time – towards the end of the undergraduate curriculum review and in the middle of the Enhancement-Led Institutional Review (ELIR) – so I had to get up to speed with the institution’s processes pretty quickly.

I was so proud to see RCS awarded the highest possible outcome by the ELIR panel in June. It’s no surprise that the panel specifically commented on how well our teams worked together and how encouraging our approach to equality and diversity is. For me, although it’s been a challenging and very busy six months, it’s been a real eye opener to see how progressive and collaborative every department here is.

What are you most looking forward to in 2018/19?

I’m looking forward to getting stuck into planning our next Strategic Plan 2020-2025. We also have our 175th anniversary in 2022 so I’m excited to see what we can come up with to mark this special anniversary year.

Coming into the institution fresh in a brand new role also means I can look at how I can shape projects and partnerships to the benefit of our students’ learning experiences. This is definitely the right job at the right time for me.

Favourite moments of 2018?

I’ve loved seeing performances from across the whole spectrum of the arts. Some of my favourites this year include London Road, Twelfth Night, MMus Opera Scenes and the Modern Ballet Graduation Performance.

It’s the quality of the performance that’s really astounded me. Coming into a multi-disciplinary environment, I can see how the students learn from one another and share their experiences to the benefit of their peers. This is what RCS is all about – it provides an environment where you can take creative risks, with all forms of expression valued and appreciated. The students learn from one another every day and this undoubtedly enriches their capability; the proof of this is in the performance.