University of South Wales

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University of South Wales
Prifysgol De Cymru
University of Glamorgan arms.png
Former names
University of Glamorgan, University of Wales, Newport
Established11 April 2013 (origins 1841)
ChancellorRowan Williams[1]
Vice-ChancellorJulie Lydon
Administrative staff
Students23,465 (2016/17)[3]
Undergraduates19,275 (2016/17)[3]
Postgraduates4,185 (2016/17)[3]
CampusCardiff, Dubai, Newport and Pontypridd
AffiliationsUniversity Alliance
University of South Wales Logo.png.jpg

The University of South Wales (Welsh: Prifysgol De Cymru) is a public university in Wales, with campuses in Cardiff, Newport, Pontypridd and Dubai.[4] It was formed on 11 April 2013 from the merger of the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport.[5] The university is the second largest university in Wales in terms of its student numbers, and offers around 200 courses. The university has four main faculties across its campuses in South Wales.


The university can trace its roots to the founding of the Newport Mechanics' Institute in 1841. The Newport Mechanics' Institute later become the University of Wales, Newport. In 1913 the South Wales and Monmouthshire School of Mines was formed.[6] The school of mines was later to become the Polytechnic of Wales, before gaining the status of University of Glamorgan in 1992. The name for the new merged university was chosen following a research exercise amongst interested parties and announced in December 2012 by the prospective vice-chancellor of the university, Julie Lydon.[7]

Notable dates[edit]

  • 1841 Opening of Mechanics Institute, Newport
  • 1913 Opening of South Wales and Monmouthshire School of Mines, Treforest
  • 2013 Merger between the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport
  • 2014 Rowan Williams appointed Chancellor
  • 2015 London Campus closes
  • 2016 Caerleon Campus closes

Student numbers[edit]

At formation it was reported that the university had more than 33,500 students from 122 countries and was then the sixth largest in the United Kingdom and the largest in Wales.[8][9][10] Following the decline in student numbers reported by the HESA over the years since the formation of the university, for the academic year 2016/17[3] the University ranking was 31st largest in the UK and the 2nd largest in Wales when measured by the numbers of students enrolled.[11]

University 00-01 01-02 02-03 03-04 04-05 05-06 06-07 07-08 08-09 09-10 10–11 11–12 12–13
Glamorgan 17,530 Increase 18,875 Increase 19,820 Increase 20,595 Increase 21,325 Decrease20,825 Increase 21,535 Increase 22,710 Decrease20,900 Increase 21,070 Decrease20,210 Increase21,190 Decrease20,345
Newport 8,185 Increase 8,505 Increase 8,980 Increase 9,065 9,065 Increase 9,380 Increase 9,535 Decrease 9,120 Decrease 9,065 Increase 9,290 Increase 10,040 Decrease 9,990 Decrease 9,780
Total 25,715 Increase 27,380 Increase 28,800 Increase 29,660 Increase 30,390 Decrease30,205 Increase 31,070 Increase 31,830 Decrease29,965 Increase 30,360 Decrease 30,250 Increase 31,180 Decrease 30,125
South Wales Baseline 13–14 14–15 15–16 16–17 17–18
Numbers 30,125 Decrease29,195 Decrease27,710 Decrease25,265 Decrease23,465 Decrease22,860
Percentage Change Decrease-3% Decrease-8% Decrease-13% Decrease-22% Decrease-24%

Source:- The Higher Education Statistics Agency [12]


Associated organisations[edit]

The university is part of the University of South Wales Group comprising the university, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Merthyr Tydfil College.

The university has a band of 106 partner colleges, universities, FE institutions or organisations, who deliver University of South Wales's higher education programmes or access courses in the UK and 18 other countries.[13]


The university has four faculties[14] spread over its campuses in South East Wales.

Faculty of Business and Society

Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science

Faculty of Creative Industries

  • School of Drama and Music
  • School of Art and Design
  • Film and TV School Wales

Faculty of Life Sciences and Education

  • School of Psychology and Therapeutic Studies
  • School of Education, Early Years and Social Work
  • School of Health, Sport & Professional Practice
  • School of Care Sciences

The university has a film school, animation facilities, broadcasting studios, a photography school, a reputation for theatre design, poets, scriptwriters and authors as well as the national music and drama conservatoire, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, as a wholly owned subsidiary. It offers a range of qualifications from further education to degrees to PhD study. As a Post 92 University it delivers a range of STEM subjects.


The university has three main campuses located across South Wales:


The Faculty of Creative Industries is based at the Cardiff Campus, along with a smaller number of courses from the Faculty of Business and Society. The Atrium Building is the main building at the campus, originally opened by the University of Glamorgan in 2007 the building was recently extended at a cost of £14.7 million[15] to replace the Caerleon campus. The building re-opened during September 2016. The campus also includes the Atlantic House building.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates[edit]

The new campus in Dubai opened in September 2018 at Dubai South located near Al-Maktoum International Airport. The courses offered will be British Bachelor degrees which include Aviation Maintenance Engineering. In 2018 the University was criticised by human rights campaigners when it awarded honorary doctorates to two senior figures in the UAE government, Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, at the campus' opening ceremony.[16][17][18]


The university's newest campus is the £40 million campus on the west bank of the River Usk in Newport city centre. The 'City Campus' was built for the University of Wales, Newport and was opened in 2011 by Sir Terry Matthews.[19] Originally built to house a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses for the Newport Business School, Newport Film School and the universities art and design department, it now hosts courses from the Faculty of Life Sciences and Education, including teaching, social work and youth work as well as some courses in business together with the National Cyber Security Academy.


This was formerly the main campus of the University of Glamorgan. Currently the university's largest campus, with a range of facilities, including an indoor sports centre and students' union. The campus is located in three parts:-

1) Treforest – Which hosts a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses notable in engineering and related subjects.

2) Glyntaff – Where nursing, science and sport courses are based.

3) Tyn y Wern – The location of the University of South Wales' sport park.

Former campuses[edit]


Caerleon is located on the northern outskirts of Newport. Formerly the second largest campus, it hosted a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, including education, sports, history, fashion design, art and photography. The campus had extensive sports facilities, library, students' union shop and a students' union bar. It was formerly the main campus of the University of Wales, Newport. In 2014, it was announced by the University of South Wales that the Caerleon campus would close in 2016.[20] The university cited the need to invest around £20 million to improve and upgrade facilities as the primary reason for its closure.[21] The university relocated courses to the Newport City campus and the Cardiff Campus where it invested £14.7 million [15] to extend and upgrade the Atrium building. The campus opened during 1914 and closed for the last time on 31 July 2016, after 102 years. The University is proposing to sell the campus for housing development but there is strong opposition to the planned re-development from local residents.[22] The Caerleon Civic Society asked Cadw, the body that looks after historic monuments and buildings in Wales, to give the Edwardian main building Grade II Listed building status to save it from demolition.[23] On 7 August 2016 the Welsh Government announced that they would recommend that the main building, gatehouses and gate-piers be listed as 'buildings of special architectural and historic interest'. The University of South Wales expressed their continued opposition to the proposed listing but the announcement was welcomed by local politicians and the Caerleon Civic Society.[24] Grade II listing of the Main Building, the Principal's Residence, Gate Piers and Caretaker's / Gardener's Lodge was confirmed on 3 March 2017 .[25]


In 2014, USW spent an estimated £300,000 developing a campus in the Docklands area of London, but in January 2015 cancelled the project before taking on any students. The university described this as a test of the market, but blamed problems created by new UK visa regulations.[26]

Academic profile[edit]


The University of Wales, Newport received the 2013 Guardian Higher Education Award (with the University of Glamorgan) for widening participation through its Universities Heads of the Valleys Institute (UHOVI) initiative.[27][28] The University of Glamorgan was recognised for providing outstanding student support, winning the 2012 Times Higher Award for Outstanding Support to Students.[29]

The vice-chancellor of the university, Julie Lydon, was appointed an OBE for services to higher education in Wales in the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours.[30]

Rankings and reputation[edit]

National rankings
Complete (2020)[31]113
Guardian (2020)[32]98
Times / Sunday Times (2020)[33]115
Global rankings
THE (2020)[34]601–800

In 2017, the university entered the top five percent of universities in the world in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

In the 2017 National Student Survey the University was placed equal 140 out of 149 universities and institutions surveyed.[35] [36] [37]

The Complete University Guide 2016/7 ranked the university as 99 out of 127 UK universities.,[38] however the ranking declined to 110 out of 129 UK Universities in 2017/8

The University came 35th in the 2017 What Uni Awards[39]

The University did not participate in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework which is a government assessment of the quality of undergraduate teaching in universities and other higher education providers.

Year 13-14 14-15 15-16 16-17 17-18
National Student Survey 80% Decrease79% Increase80% Decrease78% -
Complete University Guide 91 Decrease100 Decrease102 Increase99 Decrease110
The Guardian - 102 Decrease113 Increase111 Decrease116
Times/Sunday Times - 114 Increase112 Decrease115 -
WhatUni? Student Choice Awards 79 Decrease95 Increase8 Decrease35 -

National Cyber Security Academy[edit]

In 2016, the university launched its National Cyber Security Academy. This academy is a joint venture with industrial partners and Welsh Government and has been recognised by the UK's national security organisation GCHQ. [40]


The university is one of Wales's five major universities and a member of the St David's Day Group.[41] Its precursor institutions have been recognised for producing some world-leading and internationally excellent research in specialist areas, such as mechanical, aeronautical & manufacturing engineering, social work, social policy & administration, education, history, art and design,[42] nursing and midwifery, architecture and the built environment, English language and literature, communication, cultural & media studies, sports-related studies.[43]

The university offers independent advice to government and employers across the UK on health, education, economic growth, social policy and governance[citation needed]. It has provided a partnership platform for think-tanks such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation[44] and NESTA to develop debate on public policy reform in the UK[citation needed].

The Research Excellence Framework in 2014 concluded that the university's research output is 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent', placing the university's research strengths placed in the creative industries, social policy and criminology and sports and exercise science.[45]

Student life[edit]

Students' Union[edit]

University of South Wales Students' Union is the students' union of the university. It exists to support and represent the students of the university. It is a member-led organisation and all students are automatically members.[46]


Pontypridd has halls of residence and facilities on its Treforest campus. Students studying at the university's Cardiff campus have access to private halls of residence, which are shared with the city's other universities. The Newport City building has nearby private student halls of residence.

Notable alumni[edit]

Artists and photographers[edit]

Authors and creative writers[edit]

Business and legal[edit]


Healthcare professionals[edit]

  • Sue Bale OBE, Director of South East Wales Academic Health Science Partnership

Media personalities and performers[edit]




Sports people[edit]


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External links[edit]