Bangor University

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Bangor University
Welsh: Prifysgol Bangor
Bangor University logo.jpg
Former names
University College of North Wales (1884-1996)
University of Wales, Bangor (1996-2007)
Motto Welsh: Gorau Dawn Deall
Motto in English
"The Best Gift is Knowledge"
Type Public
Established 1884
President George Meyrick
Vice-Chancellor John G Hughes
Administrative staff
Students 10,630 (2015/16)[1]
Undergraduates 8,240 (2015/16)[1]
Postgraduates 2,390 (2015/16)[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
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 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 College of North Wales (UCNW), and later 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 251st among 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 is among the top 15 universities in the UK 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 including 3,000 quarrymen (quarrymen from Penrhyn Quarry and other quarries had subscribed more than 1,200 pounds to the university).[5] The foundation was the result of a campaign for better provision of higher education in Wales that had involved some rivalry among towns in North Wales over which was to be the location of the new college.

The college was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1885.[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 art galleries were stored in the Prichard-Jones Hall at UCNW 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 and new buildings.[4] On 22 November 1965, during construction of an 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 in 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 lectures on Transcendental Meditation by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at which The Beatles heard of the death of their manager, Brian Epstein.[7]

Student protests at UCNW in the 1970s focused mainly on calls to expand the role of the Welsh language.[4] Around this time consideration began of mergers with two colleges of education in Bangor: St Mary's College, a college for women studying to become schoolteachers, and the larger and older Normal College/Coleg Normal. The merger of St Mary's into UCNW was concluded in 1977, but the merger with Coleg Normal fell through in the 1970s and was not completed until 1996.

Name change[edit]

The change of name to Bangor University, or Prifysgol Bangor in Welsh, 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, while any student who started before 2009 had the option to have either Bangor University or University of Wales Bangor on their degree certificate.[8]

Main Arts and other Bangor University buildings from Bangor Mountain

Recent Crisis[edit]

Under John Hughes' leadership, the institution was repeatedly the subject of public criticism in the media as well as by senior political figures and trade unions, which included the appointment of Hughes' wife to a newly created senior management position,[9] the purchase and refurbishment of his house by the university (costing the institution £750,000),[10][11][12][13][14] sky-rocking expenses bills by senior management,[15][16][17][18] the discrepancy between senior management salaries and remuneration for staff working on zero hour contracts,[19][20] the axing of lifelong learning and other courses (including Archaeology, Women's Studies, and Fine Art),[21][22][23][24][25][26][27] and the management of Bangor's Pontio arts centre building, whose costs spiralled (£12m over budget) and whose opening had to be postponed several times (causing another £1m bill).[28][29][30][31][30][32][16][33][34][35] In 2014, Hughes attracted £45m debt funding from the European Investment Bank,[36][37] however in 2017, it was revealed that Bangor University was heading for a severe financial crisis resulting in 115 compulsory redundancies as part of an attempt to save £8.5m.[38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45] From Hughes' takeover in 2010, when Bangor University made £4,2m profit, to 2016, the university's nominal income had risen by 12 percent, but their expenditures by 19 percent.[46] In 2016, Hughes enjoyed an eight percent pay rise (up to £245.000),[13][47] whereas Bangor University's overall staff costs declined by 4.1 percent.[48]

Campus and buildings[edit]

The university occupies a substantial proportion of Bangor 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, the Penrhyn Arms Hotel, which housed its 58 students and its 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, which occupies a highly visible position overlooking Bangor, 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 in the London department store Dickins & Jones, and was a substantial benefactor of the building.[4]

The building became a Grade I listed building in 1949.[49]

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 redbrick University Hall, built in a Queen Anne style, was the first substantial block. It was opened in 1897.[50] This building was to become the Welsh language hall Neuadd John Morris-Jones in 1974, taking its name in honour of Professor John Morris Jones.[4] It is now called Neuadd Rathbone.

Neuadd Reichel, built on the Ffriddoedd Farm site, was designed in a neo-Georgian style by the architect Percy Thomas and was opened in 1942 as a hostel for male students.[4][50]

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.[50] The names of Neuadd Rathbone and Neuadd John Morris-Jones were later exchanged. The building originally opened as Neuadd Rathbone is now known as Neuadd Garth.

Current provision[edit]

Accommodation is guaranteed for all first-year undergraduate students at Bangor. There are around 3,000 rooms available in halls of residence, and all the accommodation is within walking distance of the university. There are three residential sites in current use; Ffriddoedd Village, St Mary's Village and Neuadd Garth.

Ffriddoedd Village[edit]
Ffriddoedd Halls of Residence village with Bryn Dinas Hall in the background

The largest accommodation site is the Friddoedd Village in Upper Bangor, about ten minutes' walk from Top College, the Science Site and the city centre. This site has eleven en-suite halls completed in 2009, six other en-suite halls built in the 1990s and Neuadd Reichel built in the 1940s, and renovated in 2011. On-site at Ffriddoedd are a coffee shop, launderettes, a convenience shop, Bar Uno and the 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 on College Road and has, along with its equivalent Neuadd Pantycelyn in Aberystwyth, became a focal point of Welsh language activities at the university. It is an integral part of UMCB, the Welsh Students' Union, which in turn is part of the main Students' Union.

The halls on "Ffridd" ("Ffridd" [friːð] is the Welsh word for mountain pasture or sheep path; "ffriddoedd" [ˈfrɪðɔið] is its plural form) include Cefn y Coed, Y Glyder, Y Borth, Elidir, J.M.J. Bryn Dinas and J.M.J. 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 Neuadd Reichel which was built in the 1940s and renovated in 2011.

St Mary's Village[edit]

One hall, Bryn Eithin, overlooks the centre of Bangor, and is close to the Science Departments and the Schools of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering. Bryn Eithin has three blocks accommodating ninety-six students. This shared a site office, launderette and common room with the neighbouring St Mary's site halls and Barlow's halls, until the latter were closed to students in 2004. All three parts of the halls were used predominantly by undergraduates at that 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 were completed in 2015 and are home to around 600 students. The halls on this site are Cybi, Penmon, and Cemlyn which are all self-catered flats, Tudno which is a townhouse complex, and the original St. Mary's building, with studios and flats. Also on site at St Mary's is Barlows shop/cafe a fitness room, laundrette, reception, security and Acapela Hall.[51]

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

College Road[edit]

College Road has one hall, 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 undergoing refurbishment in 2012–13, is now home to postgraduate students.

Neuadd Rathbone (formerly Neuadd John Morris Jones, before that University Hall), which is located on the site, was previously a hall of residence.

Normal Site[edit]

The Normal Site is on the shores of the Menai Strait next to the School of Education and the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences. The site had two self-catered halls: Neuadd Seiriol and Neuadd Arfon. These halls were closed in 2015 following the completion of the new St Mary's Village. The site is named after the former Bangor Normal College, which has since been incorporated into the university.

Private halls[edit]

A private hall of residence called Ty Willis House (formerly known as Neuadd Willis) is operated by iQ Student Accommodation; which incorporates the old listed British Hotel with a new extension to the rear, and a further hall on the site of the old Plaza Cinema. Other privately owned halls of residence in Bangor include Neuadd Kyffin, Neuadd Y Castell, Neuadd Llys Y Deon and Neuadd Ty Ni.

Former Refectory and Student Union Buildings[edit]

The Former Students' Union Building from Deiniol Road

Undeb Bangor is Bangor University’s Students’ Union and was relocated to the brand new Arts and Innovation centre, Pontio, in 2016.

Until 2010 the Students' Union building 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[52] and the main administrative building was added in 1969. The building was known as Steve Biko House from the 1970s to the early 1990s,[4][53] after Steve Biko. The buildings were renovated in 1997 to create an 1,100-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.[54]

When the original Students’ Union building was demolished, the Students’ Union was relocated to Oswalds on Victoria Drive, before moving back to its original location on Deiniol Road in 2016. Pontio includes a theatre, a cinema, a studio theatre and social facilities including the Undeb on the 4th floor.

Undeb has helped to achieve 24 hour opening of the libraries, ensuring that Wednesday afternoons are free. Student Volunteering Bangor (SVB) a department in the Undeb offer, on average, 750 volunteering opportunities a year which equates to about 600 hours of volunteering per week. The Undeb secured contracts for post-graduates who teach as well as ensure that all post-grads have a personal tutor as well as a supervisor. The Undeb work with the University to ensure that the student community have everything they need. One example is the Annual Student Survey; a chance for students to have their say and for the Undeb to feedback to the University.

Undeb stands by their purpose of “Bangor Students: we work to amplify your voice, enable your opportunities and develop your communities”.


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


(2017, national)
(2017, world)
(2018, national)
(2018, world)
(2018, national)
(2018, world)
CWTS Leiden[61]
(2017, world)
(2018, national)
The Guardian[63]
(2018, national)
Times/Sunday Times[64]
(2018, national)
Teaching Excellence Framework[65] Gold

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. Its 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 closely with members of the Student Representative Council and other boards.

Sabbatical Officer Positions
  • Union President - Ruth Plant
  • VP for Education - Helen Marchant
  • VP for Sport - Tatenda Shonhiwa
  • VP for Societies & Volunteering - James Williams
  • UMCB President (Welsh Students' Union) - Mirain Llwyd

In January 2016 Bangor Students' Union moved into the new Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre, Deiniol Road, Bangor. The New Student Centre provides students with Free Sports and Societies, with over 600 opportunities to volunteer, as well as the chance to become a Course Rep for your University School. The new open plan space provides students with a warm welcome and a safe space to relax and socialise with their peers.


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


The Students’ Union offers more than 600 volunteering opportunities in 35 community-based projects, contributing a total of 600 hours to volunteering each week.

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 coordinators and a number of committee members, plus several hundred "raggies". RAG collects money for two local and two national charities, which change every academic year and are chosen by the students. RAG members also regularly attend "raids" across the country and assist charities with one-off events throughout the year. Their mascot is a tiger named Rhodri RAG. In 1968, raggies surepticiously carved a panda (then the RAG mascot) and the letters 'UCNW' into a chalk hillside in Wiltshire, causing considerable puzzlement in England.

Clubs and Societies[edit]

There are more than 90 societies and over 50 sports clubs, ranging from academic societies to almost every sport imaginable. Notable sports include football (Bangor University F.C.), rowing (Bangor University Rowing Club) and fencing (Bangor University Fencing Club).

Student radio[edit]

Storm FM is the official student radio station for Bangor University and is one of only three student radio stations in the UK with a long-term FM licence. The station is broadcast on 87.7FM from a low-powered FM transmitter based on the Ffriddoedd Site. The FM licence allows for broadcast to a very small area of Bangor, namely the Ffriddoed Road Halls of Residence. Storm FM went online in 2009.[66]

Notable people associated with Bangor[edit]


Vice Chancellors[edit]

The University has had seven Principals/Vice-Chancellors:

Notable academics[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Fictional alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "2015/16 Students by HE provider, level, mode and domicile" (XLSX). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  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, 20 October 1884; pg. 7; Issue 31269; col F
  6. ^ The Guardian, 23 November 1965, p. 6.
  7. ^ "Higher Browsing: The Third Degree". The Guardian. 27 August 2002. 
  8. ^ University Moves Towards University Title and Change Of Name
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  49. ^ Bangor Civic Society. "Main Arts Building". Retrieved 19 November 2010. 
  50. ^ a b c M L Clarke (1966) Architectural History and Guide, University College of North Wales Online at Bangor Civic Society
  51. ^ "St Mary's Student Halls Development – News and Events, Bangor University". Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  52. ^ "'Caernarvonshire Life' May 1964". Bangor Civic Society. Archived from the original on 15 January 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  53. ^ "'Seren' Published at Steve Biko House" (PDF). Seren. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  54. ^ "Demolition Work Starts on the Old Theatr Gwynedd". Holyhead and Anglesey Mail. Archived from the original on 4 August 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  55. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017 - UK". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  56. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  57. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2018 - United Kingdom". Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. Retrieved 8 June 2017. 
  58. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2018". Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. Retrieved 8 June 2017. 
  59. ^ "World University Rankings 2018 - United Kingdom". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 5 September 2017. 
  60. ^ "World University Rankings 2018". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 5 September 2017. 
  61. ^ "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2017 - PP top 10%". CWTS Leiden Ranking 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2017. 
  62. ^ "University League Table 2018". The Complete University Guide. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  63. ^ "University league tables 2018". The Guardian. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2017. 
  64. ^ "The Times and Sunday Times University Good University Guide 2018". Times Newspapers. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  65. ^ "Teaching Excellence Framework outcomes". Higher Education Funding Council for England. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  66. ^ "Storm 87.7FM: Bangor's Student Sound". Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  67. ^ Time Into the Vacuum 15 June 1970
  68. ^ "Police chief announces retirement". BBC News. 1 May 2009. 
  69. ^ Harries-Rees, Karen (2006). "A man for change". Chemistry World. 3 (2): 42–44. 
  70. ^ "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. 
  71. ^ 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]