Bangor University

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Bangor University
Welsh: Prifysgol Bangor
Bangor University.jpg
Motto Welsh: Gorau Dawn Deall
Latin: Mortis felix et dominus
Motto in English "The Best Gift is Knowledge"
Established 1884
Type Public
President Dafydd Elis-Thomas
Vice-Chancellor John G Hughes
Admin. staff 2000
Students 16,605[1]
Undergraduates 8,460[1]
Postgraduates 2,055[1]
Other students 6,085 FE[1]
Location 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

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 institutions 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 2012 Bangor was 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 pre 1926 site of the University College of Wales Bangor

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.

Name change[edit]

The change of name to Bangor University, in Welsh: 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. As a result every student starting after 2009 gained a degree from Bangor University, whereas any student who started before 2009 had the option to choose Bangor University or University of Wales Bangor to have on their final graduation certificate.[8]

Main Arts and other Bangor University buildings from Bangor Mountain

Campus and buildings[edit]

The university occupies a substantial proportion of the city and also has some departments in Wrexham.

Arts Building[edit]

The quadrangle in the main college building on College Road

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[edit]

The red-brick 'University Hall', built in a Queen Anne style, was the first substantial block and 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.

Current provision[edit]

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.

There are four residential sites in current use:

Ffriddoedd Site[edit]
Entrance to the Ffriddoedd halls of residence 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 Canolfan Brailsford sport centre.

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

Normal Site[edit]

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. These halls are due for closure with the new St Mary's Site Halls Development.

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

St. Mary's Site[edit]

One hall, 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. Demolition of the former St Mary's Site halls, with the exception of the 1902 buildings and the Quadrangle, began in 2014 to make way for new halls to be built on the site, these halls will accommodate around 600 students and will allow the closure of Neuadd Seiriol and Neuadd Arfon on the Normal Site. Work is due to be complete by September 2015.[11]

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

College Road[edit]

College Road has one hall situated there, Neuadd Garth (formerly Neuadd John Morris Jones, before that Neuadd Rathbone), which is a self-catering 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.

Private halls[edit]

A private hall of residence called 'Neuadd Willis' was built in 2006, incorporating the old listed British Hotel with a new 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.

Former Refectory and Student Union Buildings[edit]

The Former Students' Union Building from Deiniol Road

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[12] and the main administrative building was added in 1969. The building was known as Steve Biko House in the 1970s to early 1990s,[4][13] named after student activist Steve Biko who had been killed in anti-apartheid protests in South Africa. The buildings were renovated in 1997 to create an 1100-capacity nightclub, Amser/Time, where the previous refectory space was.

Demolition of the Union buildings and Theatr Gwynedd began in July 2010 to make room for the proposed Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre.[14] The Centre will include a theatre, cinema space, and a studio theatre, all accompanied by new social facilities including the new Students Union.


Bangor University, School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

The University is divided into five Colleges and these are then broken down into Schools and Research Institutes. Bangor's Colleges, and their constituent Schools and Research Institutes, are:

College of Arts and Humanities
  • School of Creative Studies and Media
  • School of Education
  • School of English
  • School of History, Welsh History and Archaeology
  • School of Lifelong Learning
  • School of Linguistics and English Language
  • School of Modern Languages
  • School of Music
  • School of Philosophy and Religion
  • School of Welsh
  • ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism
College of Business, Law, Education and Social Sciences
  • Bangor Business School
  • School of Education
  • School of Law
  • School of Social Sciences
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
College of Physical and Applied Sciences
  • School of Chemistry
  • School of Computer Science
  • School of Electronic Engineering

Student life[edit]

Students' Union[edit]

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
  • Union President Rhys Taylor
  • VP Education & Welfare Lydia Richardson
  • VP Sport & Healthy Living Nicola Pye
  • VP Societies & Community Mark Stanley
  • UMCB President (Welsh Students' Union) Guto Gwilym


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[edit]

Student Volunteering Bangor (SVB) is a department within the Students’ Union which has over 600 volunteering opportunities over 33 community based projects. SVB volunteers currently contribute a total of 600 hours each week which promotes a close relationship between the university and the local community.

There is a long tradition of student volunteering in Bangor. The oldest records available detail the organisation of a tea party for local elderly residents in 1952. The Tea Party project continues to run to this day and is SVB's oldest project.

In October 2012, Student Volunteering Bangor was awarded the Queen's 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 tiger, Rhodri RAG.

Nawdd Nos Bangor Nightline[edit]

Nightline is a listening, emotional support, and information service run by students for students. The service is open every night of term from 8pm - 8am. Nightline runs by 5 core principles:

  • Confidentiality
  • Anonymity
  • Non-judgmental
  • Dedication
  • Non-advisory

Bangor Nightline was the tenth Nightline to open in the UK on 27 February 1974. It is affiliated with Nightline Association and was the first Nightline in the UK to achieve the Good Practice Guidelines accreditation and reaccreditation. In 2010, Bangor Nightline received the National Nightline Best Practice Award, Bangor Students' Union's Achievement of the Year award and was runner up for the Society of the Year award. In recognition of the contribution of anonymous volunteers to the service, Bangor Nightline won the Bangor Students' Union's Societies Wildcard award and Best Fundraising and Campaign Event award in 2013. Also in 2013, it received the High Sheriff's award.

Bangor Nightline's mascot is Dafydd the bear, who is active in student interactions around university buildings and on social media. Dafydd was born on the 27th February, 1974, and loves bear puns. On February 28, 2014, Bangor Nightline celebrated its 40th anniversary with a classic Hollywood themed ball in collaboration with many other BSU societies.

Clubs and societies[edit]

There are over 150 societies varying from academic societies to sport clubs. Notable sports include football (Bangor University F.C.) and rowing (Bangor University Rowing Club).

Student radio[edit]

Storm 87.7 FM
Storm FM logo
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.[15]


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.

Notable people associated with Bangor[edit]


Vice Chancellors[edit]

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

Notable academics[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Fictional alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Table 0 - All students by institution, mode of study, level of study, gender and domicile 2007/08" (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 23 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "World University Rankings 2011-2012". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Bangor University Profile". Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m David Roberts (2009) Bangor University 1884–2009, University of Wales Press ISBN 978-0-7083-2226-0
  5. ^ The Times, Monday, Oct 20, 1884; pg. 7; Issue 31269; col F
  6. ^ The Guardian, Nov 23, 1965, page 6
  7. ^ "Higher browsing: The third degree". Guardian [London, England]. 27 August 2002. 
  8. ^ University Moves Towards University Title & Change Of Name
  9. ^ Bangor Civic Society. "Main Arts Building". Retrieved 19 November 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c M L Clarke (1966) Architectural History and Guide, University College of North Wales Online at Bangor Civic Society
  11. ^ "St Mary’s student halls development – News and Events, Bangor University". Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "'Caernarvonshire Life' May 1964". Bangor Civic Society. Archived from the original on 15 January 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  13. ^ "'Seren' published at Steve Biko House". Seren. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  14. ^ "Demolition work starts on the old Theatr Gwynedd". Holyhead and Anglesey Mail. Archived from the original on 4 August 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  15. ^ "Storm 87.7FM : Bangor's Student Sound". Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Time Into the Vacuum 15 June 1970
  17. ^ Curriculum Vitae of Stefan Rahmstorf
  18. ^ "The 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine - Press Release". 2010-10-04. Archived from the original on 5 October 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  19. ^ "Police chief announces retirement". BBC News. 1 May 2009. 
  20. ^ Harries-Rees, Karen (2006). "A man for change". Chemistry World 3 (2): 42–44. 
  21. ^ Curriculum Vitae of Stefan Rahmstorf

Further reading[edit]

  • 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[edit]