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Ulster University

Ulster University
Ulster University's coat of arms
Established 1865 - Magee College
1953 - Magee University
1969 - New University of Ulster
1982 - University of Ulster
2014 - Ulster University
Type Public research university
Endowment £6.483 million (2014)[1]
Budget £185m
Chancellor James Nesbitt[2]
Vice-Chancellor Paddy Nixon
Academic staff
Students 26,200 (2013/14)[3]
Undergraduates 20,335[3]
Postgraduates 5,865[3]
Campus Varied (Urban/ Rural)
Colours Logo:Navy & Bronze
Seal:Red & Gold
Affiliations EUA
Ulster University re-branded logo

Ulster University is a multi-campus public university located in Northern Ireland. It is the second largest university in Ireland, after the federal National University of Ireland. It has a national and international reputation for excellence, innovation and regional engagement making a major contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of Northern Ireland. It plays a key role in attracting inward investment through research and innovation and technology and knowledge transfer in addition to its core business of teaching and learning and widening access to education.

Ulster University prides itself on its excellent, research-led teaching and learning environment, providing undergraduate and postgraduate students with an exceptional experience enabling all to fulfil their potential. It has one of the highest further study and employment rates in the UK, with over 90% of graduates being in work or further study six months after graduation.[4] The university is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities,[5] the European University Association, Universities Ireland and Universities UK.

Established in 1968 as the New University of Ulster, it merged with Ulster Polytechnic in 1984, incorporating its four Northern Irish campuses under the University of Ulster banner. The university incorporated its four campuses in 1984; located in Belfast, Coleraine, Magee College in Derry, and Jordanstown. The university has branch campuses in both London and Birmingham, and an extensive distance learning provision. The university became known as Ulster University from October 2014 and this included a revised visual identity.


  • History 1
  • Campuses 2
    • Belfast 2.1
    • Coleraine 2.2
    • Jordanstown 2.3
    • Magee 2.4
    • Branch Campuses 2.5
  • Organisation and governance 3
    • Governance 3.1
    • Faculties 3.2
  • Academic profile 4
    • Rankings 4.1
    • Research 4.2
      • Research Institutes 4.2.1
  • Noted academics and alumni 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The New University of Ulster (NUU) incorporated Magee College founded in 1865 in Derry. Magee College was a college of the Royal University of Ireland from 1880 and later became associated with the University of Dublin (better known as Trinity College) when the Royal University was dissolved in 1908 and replaced by the National University of Ireland. In 1953 Magee College broke its links with Dublin and became Magee University College. It was hoped by groups led by the University for Londonderry Committee that this university college would become Northern Ireland's second university after The Queen's University of Belfast. However, this did not happen and instead it was subsumed into the New University, primarily as a result of the unwillingness of the Unionist government at Stormont to have the second university sited in overwhelmingly nationalist Derry, in which "The Troubles" were just beginning to break out. The decision caused an outcry at the time.[6]

The university was built at Coleraine as part of Her Majesty's Government's expansion of higher education in the 1960s. Following a review of higher education in Northern Ireland under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Chilver in 1982 the direct-rule government decided to merge NUU with the Ulster Polytechnic to form the University of Ulster (dropping "New" from the name.) The merger took effect on 1 October 1984. Whilst the university was established in 1968 it can trace its roots back to 1845 when Magee College was endowed in Derry, and 1849, when the School of Art and Design was inaugurated in Belfast.


Four university campuses are situated in Northern Ireland in Belfast, Coleraine, Derry~Londonderry (Magee College) and Jordanstown. Additionally, two further branch campuses in both London and Birmingham in England deliver courses. An online distance learning provision also offers Ulster University courses globally.


The Belfast campus is situated in the artistic and cultural centre of the city; the Cathedral Quarter. Although traditionally associated with Art and home to the university’s School of Art, originally inaugurated as the Belfast School of Art and Design in 1849, the campus spans an increasing and exciting range of subjects including architecture, hospitality, event management, photography and digital animation. The award-winning Law Clinic is based at the Belfast campus, offering free legal advice on social security and employment law.

The campus comprises purpose-built design spaces, studios for recording and editing live and off-air television, sound recording, mixing and animation and teaching and exhibition areas. The campus plays host to frequent fashion and art exhibitions. Ulster University has been expanding and developing the Belfast campus since 2009 as part of one of Northern Ireland's largest-ever urban developments, and nearly 15,000 students and staff will soon be based in the city centre. The first phase of this development opened in 2015.


The feeling of community at the Coleraine campus makes for a warm and welcoming student experience. The relaxed, outdoor atmosphere of the north coast is reflected in the feel of this thriving campus. Subjects taught at Coleraine include biomedical sciences, environmental science and geography, pharmacy, psychology, the humanities, film and journalism, travel and tourism as well as teacher training. The Coleraine campus hosts the only optometry school in Northern Ireland and is home to the Riverside Theatre, the third-largest professional theatre in Northern Ireland.

In 2009 the university launched a new Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) course at Coleraine, becoming the top UK university for pharmacy and pharmacology in 2014 and maintaining that position in 2015.

In July 2011, in cooperation with Zhejiang University of Media and Communications (ZUMC), 'The Confucius Institute at Ulster University' (CIUU) was developed. The Confucius Institute is part of a network of 322 institutes in over 50 countries which promote and teach Chinese language and culture and facilitate cultural exchanges aimed at fostering trade links with China.[7]


The bustling Jordanstown campus is the largest university campus. It is located seven miles north of Belfast city centre. The campus has a strong profile in business, engineering, social sciences, communication and academic disciplines relating to the science and coaching of sport. Sport plays a significant part in the life of the campus. It is home to the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland, a partnership between the University and Sport Northern Ireland, and most of Northern Ireland's elite athletes train in the impressive facilities.


The Magee campus in the city of Derry comprises a mixture of historic and new buildings in a Victorian residential area. It was named after Martha Magee and opened in 1865 as a Presbyterian Christian arts and theological college.[8] Since 1953, it has had no religious affiliation, and was one of the founding campuses of the university in 1968. Ongoing investment in the Magee campus provides state-of-the-art teaching, research and support facilities for students and staff. This investment has delivered a student residential village offering en-suite accommodation, a library, the Intelligent Systems Research Centre and the Foyle Arts Building.

In addition to the university’s teaching and learning facilities, the campus has on-site residential, catering and sports facilities. Sports facilities include a multi-purpose sports hall, fitness suite and studio as well as a grass and floodlit synthetic 3G pitch with pavilion and changing facilities.

Branch Campuses

The university has a partnership with QA Higher Education, which operates two branch campuses in England: London and Birmingham. The London campus is in Holborn, and the Birmingham campus is in the Centre City Tower.[9][10] The campuses offer courses in business, finance and computing.[11]

Organisation and governance




The six faculties of Ulster University, are:

  • Faculty of Arts
  • Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment
  • Faculty of Computing and Engineering
  • Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Ulster University Business School

Academic profile

The university's course provision is the largest in Northern Ireland, covering arts, business, engineering, information technology, life and health sciences, management, and social sciences. Courses have a strong vocational element and the majority include a period of industrial or professional placement.

The university has a strong reputation for innovation. The university contributes a higher than national average to local research and development activity and has a strategic research focus.


(2015/16, national)
(2015/16, world)
(2016, national)
The Guardian[15]
(2016, national)
Times/Sunday Times[16]
(2015, national)

The university is ranked annually by the Complete University Guide, The Guardian, and jointly by The Times and The Sunday Times; this makes up the UK University League Table rankings.

The institution is a leading modern university ranked in the top 100 global institutions under 50 years of age in The Times Higher Education 100 Under 50. [17]

The university scores highly for student satisfaction with the 2015 National Student Survey unveiling 89% satisfaction rates - ranking 35th out of 160 UK universities in 2015. [18]


Excellent Research & Innovation is one of the underpinning strategies of the university. The Research Excellence Framework 2014 exercise identified the institution as one of the top five universities in the UK for world-leading research in law, biomedical sciences, nursing and art and design. Under some metrics, it ranked the university top in Northern Ireland for research into biomedical sciences, law, business and management, architecture and built environment, art and design, social policy, sport, media studies and nursing.[19].

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 identified that 72% of the university's research activity was world leading or internationally excellent. [20] Additionally the REF evaluation identified the university as ranked:

  • In the top 10 UK-wide for built environment, biomedical sciences, law, art and design and nursing research
  • First in the UK for outstanding impact in law and joint first in the UK for outstanding and very considerable impact in education research
  • Second in the UK for Celtic studies research.

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 results demonstrate the institution's influence, the relevance of its research informed teaching and its impact in areas as diverse as health, the economy, the creative industries and social policy.

Research Institutes

There are 15 Research Institutes at the university. These are:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Institute (AHRI)
  • Biomedical Sciences Research Institute
  • Built Environment Research Institute
  • Business and Management Research Institute
  • Centre for Media Research
  • Computer Science Research Institute
  • Engineering Research Institute (ERI)
  • Environmental Sciences Research Institute
  • Institute of Nursing and Health Research
  • Institute for Research in Social Sciences
  • Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute
  • Psychology Research Institute
  • Research Institute for Art and Design (RIAD)
  • Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute
  • Transitional Justice Institute

Noted academics and alumni

The university and its predecessors has a large body of notable academics and alumni.

See also


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Online sources
  • History of Magee College at Ulster University Library website
  • Obituary: Education Guardian, obituary of Derek Birley, founding rector of Ulster College and founding vice-chancellor of University of Ulster

External links

  • Official website
  • Ulster University Students' Union Website
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