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Arts University Plymouth named University of the Year for South West England

Arts University Plymouth

Arts University Plymouth has been named University of the Year for South West England at the Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs).

The nominees and winners of these awards are selected by students based on reviews submitted by students from across the UK, and winners judged by a panel made up of prospective and current university students.

Arts University Plymouth was crowned as the Lecturers & Teaching Quality Winner for South West England, Facilities Winner for South West England and Student Support Winner for South West England. The leading arts university was also awarded Second Place for South West England for Students’ Union.

Ranked out of over 100 of the UK’s top universities at an awards ceremony presented by actor and comedian Lenny Henry, Arts University Plymouth came fourth place overall in the UK category of University of the Year and top out of all universities in the South West of England.

Arts University Plymouth

Voted for by students, Arts University Plymouth took home second place in the UK for the Facilities award, third place overall in the Student Support category, and fourth place in the Lecturers & Teaching Quality category.

Highlighting the quality of Arts University Plymouth’s provision as a leading specialist for creative arts education, the University of the Year award celebrates the overall experience of students, focusing on lecturers and teaching quality, the Students’ Union experience, facilities and student life. Arts University Plymouth was the only specialist arts university considered for this category.

The University was awarded Winner in the Facilities award category for South West England, celebrating the access students have to the wide array of subject-specific resources available across all creative disciplines. Students voted based on Arts University Plymouth’s cutting-edge resources, including Fab Lab Plymouth, diverse multimedia and photography studios, a comprehensive Materials Lab that supports innovative practices in hot glass, ceramics and biomaterials, and the university’s well-equipped Drawing Lab, Fashion and Textile studios. 

Being named Winner in the Student Support category for South West England celebrates the University’s focus on student support and on promoting kindness in the processes of thinking, making and living. In 2023, Arts University Plymouth won a Kindness in Education Award, recognising the arts university’s collective work to build a kinder and more compassionate university and an inclusive community for staff and students.

Winning the Lecturers & Teaching Quality award for South West England, student votes highlighted teaching excellence on offer at the University. In 2023, Arts University Plymouth was awarded a triple Silver rating by the Office for Students in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Graduates at Arts University Plymouth’s graduation ceremony at Theatre Royal Plymouth

Now in their 12th year, the Whatuni Student Choice Awards are the only annual awards for UK universities based entirely on student opinion, with over 35,000 reviews submitted by students each year. Arts University Plymouth’s Whatuni ranking is based on reviews from 712 students, making up almost half of the leading arts university’s undergraduate student body.

Arts University Plymouth continues to be recognised for its excellence in creative education, providing a world-class ecosystem of resources and talent for the designers and makers of tomorrow. In 2023, Arts University Plymouth was voted second in the category for best Small or Specialist Institution at the WUSCAs, following a first place win in 2022.

Last year, the University excelled in the National Student Survey (NSS) 2023, claiming the highest score for a specialist arts university in the UK for Learning Resources, after being voted by students as the top arts university in the UK for overall student satisfaction in NSS 2022.

Arts University Plymouth ranks as a Top 10 university in the Arts, Drama & Music League Table for 2024 according to the Complete University Guide, and sixth in the UK for studying Interior Design according to the Guardian University Guide 2024. In 2023, the University’s Pre-Degree provision was rated Ofsted ‘Good’, further affirming its commitment to delivering accessible and high-quality creative education.

Lenny Henry presenting the Lecturers & Teaching Quality award at the Whatuni Student Choice Awards

Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive of Arts University Plymouth, said: “We are so delighted with the acknowledgement of our work through these awards. In particular the recognition in the University of the Year category has demonstrated that small and specialist Universities like ours have much to contribute to the landscape of UK Higher Education. For the third year in a row, we are proud to celebrate these achievements with our community and with future applicants.

“This accolade is testament to the hard work and dedication of our talented colleagues at Arts University Plymouth, who work so hard to prioritise the needs and experiences of students. Thanks also to every student who used Whatuni to share their experiences of studying with us, helping applicants around the world to learn what to expect when they join our creative community.”

One recent student review of Arts University Plymouth from a BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking student said: “It is a joy to come in every day. I seem to make more new friends every week… All in all, attending Arts University Plymouth is proving to be one of the greatest experiences of my life… To be creative and express myself the way I want to. Everyone can be themselves. It is like entering another world walking through those doors each day. A creative paradise!”

A recent review by a BA (Hons) Illustration student said “It’s a vibrant, perfect Uni that feels like home,” and another review by a BA (Hons) Craft & Material Practices student said “This university has the best environment in the South West to facilitate creativity in a number of mediums. The open door policy to all workshops fosters a sense of endless possibility.”

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