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University College of North Wales


University College of North Wales

Bangor University
Prifysgol Bangor

Welsh: Gorau Dawn Deall ("The Best Gift is Knowledge")

Latin: Mortis felix et dominus
Established 1884
Type Public
President Dafydd Elis-Thomas
Vice-Chancellor Professor John G Hughes
Admin. staff 2000
Students 16,605[1]
Undergraduates 8,460[1]
Postgraduates 2,055[1]
Other students 6,085 FE[1]

Bangor, Wales, UK
53°13′44″N 4°07′48″W / 53.2289°N 4.1301°W / 53.2289; -4.1301Coordinates: 53°13′44″N 4°07′48″W / 53.2289°N 4.1301°W / 53.2289; -4.1301

Campus Bangor
Former names University College of North Wales, University of Wales,Bangor
Nickname Welsh: Y Coleg ar y Bryn ("The College on the Hill")
Affiliations EUA
Universities UK
University of Wales
Association of Commonwealth Universities

Bangor University (Welsh: Prifysgol Bangor) is a Welsh university based in the city of Bangor in the county of Gwynedd in North Wales. It received its Royal charter in 1885 and was one of the founding Member institution of the former federal University of Wales. It was officially known for most of its history as the University of Wales, Bangor (UWB) (Welsh: Prifysgol Cymru, Bangor). From September 2007 it became known as Bangor University, having become independent from the federal University of Wales.

In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, almost 50 per cent of all research at Bangor University was assessed as world-leading. Bangor is ranked 251 of the world's top universities.[2] According to the Sunday Times University Guide 2012,[3] it is rated top in Wales for teaching excellence and places in the top 15 UK universities in this category.


The university was founded as the "University College of North Wales" (UCNW) on 18 October 1884 with an inaugural address by the Earl of Powis, the College's first President, in Penrhyn Hall.[4] There was then a procession to the college with 3,000 quarryman (quarrymen from Penrhyn Quarry and other quarries had subscribed over £1200 to the university).[5] The result of a campaign for better higher education provision in Wales and following some rivalry between North Wales towns as to which was to be the base of the new college, it was incorporated by charter a year later.[4]

Its students received degrees from the University of London until 1893 when UCNW became a founding constituent institution of the federal University of Wales.

During the Second World War, paintings from national arts galleries were located at the Prichard-Jones Hall to protect them from enemy bombing; they were later moved to slate mines at Blaenau Ffestiniog.[4] Students from University College, London were evacuated to continue their studies in a safer environment at Bangor.[4]

During the 1960s, the university shared in the general expansion of higher education in the UK following the Robbins Report, with a number of new departments created and new buildings built.[4] On 22 November 1965, during construction of the extension to the Department of Electronic Engineering in Dean Street, a crane collapsed on the building. The three-ton counterweight hit the second floor lecture theatre of the original building about thirty minutes before it would have been occupied by about 80 first year students. The counterweight went through to the ground floor.[6]

In 1967, the Bangor Normal College, now part of the university, was the venue for the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's lectures in Transcendental Meditation, at which The Beatles learnt of the death of their manager, Brian Epstein.[7]

Student protest in the 1970s focused mainly on the role of the Welsh language at the university, with many calling for Welsh-medium teaching and a more thorough approach to bilingualism at the institution.[4] Around this time, too, consideration began of mergers with two Bangor colleges of education – St. Mary's College, a college for women student-teachers and the larger and older Normal College/Coleg Normal. The merger of St. Mary's was concluded in 1977, but the Coleg Normal merger fell through. Ultimately, Coleg Normal merged with the university in 1996.

The change of name to Bangor University or Prifysgol Bangor was instigated by the university following the decision of the University of Wales to change from a federal university to a confederal, non-membership organisation, and the granting of degree awarding powers to Bangor University itself. The university has decided to take advantage of these powers, and every student starting 2009 will have a degree from Bangor University, whereas any student who started before 2009 has the option to choose Bangor University or University of Wales Bangor to have on their final graduation certificate.[8]

Campus and buildings

The university occupies a substantial proportion of the city and also has some departments in Wrexham. One of the university's key selling-points is its location between Snowdonia and the island of Anglesey.

Arts Building

The university was originally based in an old coaching inn called the Penrhyn Arms Hotel (which housed its 58 students and 12 teaching staff). In 1911 it moved to a much larger new building which is now the old part of the Main Arts Building. This building, designed by Henry Hare, had its foundation stone laid by King Edward VII on 9 July 1907, and was formally opened by King George V in 1911. The iconic building in a visible position overlooking the city, gave the college its Welsh nickname Y Coleg ar y Bryn ("The College on the Hill"). It included the large Prichard-Jones Hall, named after Sir John Prichard-Jones a local man who became a partner of London department store Dickins & Jones and who had been a substantial benefactor of the building.[4]

The building became a Grade 1 listed building in 1949.[9]

A modern extension, completing a quadrangle on the College Road side of the building, was completed in 1969. This is now known as the Main Arts Building.

Halls of residence


The story of the halls of residence is complicated by the changes of name associated with particular buildings.

The red-brick 'University Hall', built in a Queen Anne style, was the first substantial block, opened in 1897.[10] This building was to become the Welsh language hall 'Neuadd John Morris-Jones' in 1974 (named after professor John Morris Jones[4] and is the current Neuadd Rathbone.

Neuadd Reichel, built on the Ffriddoedd Farm site, designed in a neo-Georgian style by architect Percy Thomas, was opened in 1942 as a hostel for male students.[4][10]

Expansion in the 1960s led to the development of Plas Gwyn in 1963-64 and Neuadd Emrys Evans in 1965, both on the Ffriddoedd site, and Neuadd Rathbone at the top of Love Lane in 1965.[4] Neuadd Rathbone, designed by Colwyn Foulkes and named after the second president of the college, was originally for women students only.[10] The names of Neuadd Rathbone and Neuadd John Morris-Jones were later exchanged with each other. The building originally opened as Neuadd Rathbone is now known as Neuadd Garth.

Plas Gwyn and Neuadd Emrys Evans were demolished in 2008-09 to make way for the present halls.

Current provision

Accommodation is guaranteed for all single, undergraduate first year students at Bangor. There are over 2,000 rooms available in halls of residence, and all of the accommodation is within walking distance of the university.

All the sites are managed directly from the Halls Office. Support is available during the daytime from the Halls Office, University Security Staff and Student Services and out of hours and at weekend from the resident Senior Wardens. The university also employs a team of student wardens to live in every hall of residence.

There are four residential sites in current use:

Ffriddoedd Site

The largest accommodation site is the Friddoedd Site in Upper Bangor about 10 minutes walk from Top College, the Science Site and city centre. This site has 11 new en-suite halls completed in 2009, 6 other en-suite halls built in the 1990s and Neuadd Reichel built in the 1940s, and includes a coffee shop, launderettes, convenience shop, Bar Uno and Maes Glas Sports Hall.

Two of the en-suite halls, Bryn Dinas and Tegfan, now incorporate the new Neuadd John Morris Jones which started its life in 1974 in College Road and has, along with its equivalent Neuadd Pantycelyn in Aberystwyth, became a hub of Welsh identity. It is also the main focal point of Welsh language activities of the university and is an integral part of UMCB, which is the Welsh Students' Union, part of the main Students' Union body. The hall itself is affectionately known as 'JMJ' to all its students and alumni.

The halls on "Ffridd" (pron. freeth as in breathe) site include Cefn y Coed, Y Glyder, Y Borth, Elidir, JMJ Bryn Dinas and JMJ Tegfan (all of which were built in the early 1990s), Adda, Alaw, Braint, Crafnant, Enlli, Peris, Glaslyn, Llanddwyn, Ffraw, Idwal and Gwynant (which were all built in the late 2000s) and the newly refurbished Neuadd Reichel, built in the 1940s.

"Ffridd" is the Welsh word for mountain pasture or sheep path; "ffriddoedd" is its plural form.

Normal Site

The Normal Site is on the shores of the Menai Strait next to the School of Education and School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences and the closest residences to the School of Ocean Sciences in Menai Bridge. The site has two self-catered halls: Neuadd Seiriol and Neuadd Arfon.

The site is named after the former Bangor Normal College, which has since been incorporated into the university (see history above), and was established for the training of teachers (see Normal School).

St. Mary's Site

One hall is open on this site, Bryn Eithin overlooks the centre of Bangor and is close to the Science Departments and School of Informatics. This is a postgraduate site and has three blocks accommodating ninety six students. Though at the beginning of the new century, and possibly for many prior years, this shared a site office, launderette and common room with the neighbouring other St Mary's site halls and Barlow's halls, until the latter closed to students in 2004. All three parts of the halls were used pre-dominantly by undergraduates at this time.

In Welsh, "Bryn" means "hill," and "Eithin" means "gorse."

College Road

College Road has one hall situated there, Neuadd Garth (formerly Neuadd John Morris Jones, before that Neuadd Rathbone), this is the only catered hall. The site is located a stone's throw from the Main Arts building in Upper Bangor, and departments such as Psychology, Music and the College of Business, Social Sciences and Law. Neuadd Garth, after going under refurbishment in 2012-13, is now the home to Postgraduate students and Students with Families. Neuadd Rathbone (formerly Neuadd John Morris Jones, before that University Hall) which is located on the site, was previously a hall of residence but will be remodeled during the academic year 2011-12, to accommodate Student Services and will no longer be occupied by students as a hall of residence.

Private halls

A private hall of residence called 'Neuadd Willis' (named after a well-liked and respected architect) has been built (2006), incorporating the old listed British Hotel with a new build extension to the rear and a further hall on the site of the old Plaza cinema. A new hall was opened on the high street in 2013 named 'Neuadd Penrhyn' and is owned by the same company as Neuadd Willis. This is not a university owned or managed hall.

Former Refectory and Student Union Buildings

The Students' Union building until 2010 was situated on Deiniol Road at one end of College Park below the Main Arts building. The Refectory and Curved Lounge were built in 1963 The Centre will include a theatre with a capacity of between 450-550 seats, cinema space, and a studio theatre, all accompanied by new social facilities including the new Students Union, bars, dining and park areas in a family-friendly environment.


More than half of the academic departments at Bangor received an "Excellent" rating for the quality of teaching, and several departments scored very highly in the 2007 National Student Survey, with the School of Music occupying the top slot in the UK.[14]

Following a reshuffle in August 2006, the University is divided into six Colleges. These are then broken down into Schools and Research Institutes. One of the departments that closed as a result of the reorganisation was Mathematics. The Guardian league table placed Bangor fifth in the UK for maths despite the University no longer admitting students.[15]

Bangor's Colleges, and their constituent Schools and Research Institutes, are:

College of Arts, Education and Humanities

  • School of Creative Studies and Media
  • School of Education
  • School of English
  • School of History, Welsh History and Archaeology
  • School of Linguistics and English Language
  • School of Modern Languages
  • School of Music
  • School of Theology and Religious Studies
  • School of Welsh
  • NIECI (National Institute for Excellence in the Creative Industries)
  • ELCOS (English Language Centre for Overseas Students)
  • WISCA (Welsh Institute for Social and Cultural Affairs)
  • ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism

College of Business, Social Sciences and Law

  • Bangor Business School
  • School of Law
  • School of Social Sciences

College of Lifelong Learning

  • School of Lifelong Learning

College of Natural Sciences

  • School of Biological Sciences (includes Treborth Botanic Garden)
  • School of the Environment, Natural Resources and Geography
  • School of Ocean Sciences
  • Welsh Institute of Natural Resources

College of Health and Behavioural Sciences

  • School of Healthcare Sciences
  • School of Medical Sciences
  • School of Psychology, Bangor University
  • School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences
  • Institute of Medical and Social Care Research

College of Physical and Applied Sciences

  • School of Chemistry
  • School of Computer Science (previously School of Informatics)
  • School of Electronics

Student Life

Students' Union

The Students’ Union provides services, support, activities and entertainment for students. All Bangor University students automatically become members of the Students' Union (unless they choose to opt out) and officers have seats on all major university committees.

As with most, if not all Students' Unions, a yearly election takes place - in which a number of sabbatical officers are elected. These sabbatical officers are held accountable for the actions and decisions of the union, and often work in close proximity with members of the Students' Union Senate and other boards.

Sabbatical Officer Positions (Some historical data missing)

  • Union President Antony Butcher
  • VP Education & Welfare Rhys Taylor
  • VP Sport & Healthy Living Nicola Pye
  • VP Societies & Community Ash Kierens
  • UMCB President (Welsh Students' Union) Elidyr Glyn


There are several opportunities to volunteer at Bangor University, the main hub being Student Volunteering Bangor, a department of the Students' Union.

Student Volunteering Bangor

Student Volunteering Bangor (SVB) is a department within the Students’ Union which has over 1,000 members, 250 of whom volunteer on one or more of 18 community based projects. SVB volunteers currently contribute a total of 400 hours each week which promotes a close relationship between the university and the local community.

SVB has a vision that it should be commonplace for students to volunteer whilst they are at university and that the Students’ Union should do everything they can to support, promote and develop student volunteering. That is why SVB’s main aim is to assist students to lead their own, community based volunteering projects and provide student volunteers with the support and training they need to do so.

There is a long tradition of student volunteering in Bangor. The oldest records available are minutes discussing a tea party for the local elderly in 1952. The Tea Party continues to run today and is SVB's oldest project.

In October 2012, Student Volunteering Bangor was awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.


Bangor RAG (Raising and Giving) is a Student Volunteering Bangor project. The committee is made up of two co-ordinators and a number of committee members, plus several hundred "raggies". RAG collect money for two local and two national charities which change every academic year and are chosen by the students when a charity is nominated. RAG also regularly attend 'raids' across the country and assist charities with one-off events throughout the year. Their mascot is the lovable tiger, Rhodri RAG.


Nightline is a student society with close links to, though not part of, Student Volunteering Bangor. It is a voluntarily run, confidential and anonymous information and listening service, run by university students for university students. It is part of the National Nightline Association. In May 2010 Bangor Nightline won Bangor Students' Union's Achievement of the Year award, and was runner up for the Society of the Year award. Later that year, it was also the first Nightline in the UK to achieve the Good Practice Guidelines accreditation and to be awarded the National Nightline Best Practice Award.

Athletic Union Clubs and the Societies Department

There are over 150 societies on offer varying from academic societies such as the Geographical Society, archaeology, and Psychology, to the more fun societies such as music, film, comedy, and drama, to sport clubs such as climbing, canoeing, surfing and skydiving.


Bangor University Music Society (BuMuSoc) is a student run society with over 100 members from all departments of the University. It provides the chance to make music twice weekly in the choir and orchestra and to take part in events in the community. Both ensembles are conducted by students within the society.


See main article Bangor University F.C.


See main article Bangor University Rowing Club

Student radio

Storm 87.7 FM
Broadcast area Bangor
Frequency 87.7 MHz
First air date 19th March 2003
Format Bangor's Student Sound
Owner Bangor University Students' Union

Storm FM is the official student radio station for Bangor University and is one of only three student radio stations in the UK to have a long term FM license. The station is broadcast on 87.7FM from a low powered FM transmitter based on the Ffriddoedd Site. Storm is run on a voluntary basis by around 90 students at the university. Unfortunately, the FM licence only allows for broadcast to a very small area of Bangor - namely the Ffriddoed Road Halls of Residence. On March 1, 2009, Storm FM officially went online, with the service being available to anyone who accesses the Storm website.[16]


Bangor Rag Radio Stereo FM started in 1972 by a number of Dean Street (Electronics Engineering) students, initially just for Rag Week. This was a pirate radio station, possibly the first University stereo FM station in the UK. The FM transmitter was moved around Bangor to avoid capture by the GPO, often with a microwave link line-of-sight from the Student's Union building roof to provide live studio radio programmes.Its predecessor was on Medium Wave only, and was started shortly after World War II. Rag Radio later spawned BRBS the Bangor Rag Broadcasting System, which ran until 1991.

Storm FM was set up in October 2001 by the then president of the Students' Union, Niall Duffy. The first show was broadcast at 13:00 on March 19, 2003.

In 2005, two presenters received nominations at the Student Radio Awards; Emma Gascoigne for Best Female, and Spencer George for Best Newcomer. The station was also nominated for Best Station Sound at the Student Radio Awards 2004.

Following considerable time off-air, the 2006/07 academic year saw a totally re-branded Storm FM relocate to a new studio in the Students' Union building, directly under the control of the Students' Union. Until that point, broadcasts were made from the University's Media Centre in upper Bangor.

In October 2007, Storm FM received two nominations at the Student Radio Awards for Best Marketing & Branding and Best Live Event/Outside Broadcast, the latter receiving a Bronze Award at the 2007 SRA ceremony for its local coverage of the National Assembly for Wales election, 2007.[17]



Vice Chancellors (earlier Principals)

The University has had a total of seven Principals/Vice-Chancellors:

Honorary Fellows


Notable academics

Notable alumni

Fictional alumni

According to Helen Fielding's 1996 novel Bridget Jones's Diary, the title character attended Bangor University.

See also


Further reading

  • Clarke, M. L. (1966) Architectural History & Guide (University College of North Wales, Bangor); Online (Bangor Civic Society)
  • Roberts, David (2009) Bangor University, 1884-2009. Cardiff: University of Wales Press ISBN 0-7083-2226-3
  • Williams, J. Gwynn (1985) The University College of North Wales - Foundations 1884-1927. Cardiff: University of Wales Press ISBN 0-7083-0893-7

External links

  • Bangor University – official website
  • Bangor University Students' Union (BUSU)
  • Lists of University College, Bangor students
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