Ulster University

Ulster University
Irish: Ollscoil Uladh
Scots: Ulstèr Universitie

Ulster University's coat of arms
Type Public research university
Established 1865 - Magee College
1953 - Magee University
1969 - New University of Ulster
1982 - University of Ulster
2014 - Ulster University
Endowment £7.0 million (2015)[1]
Budget £185m [2]
Chancellor James Nesbitt[3]
Vice-Chancellor Paddy Nixon
Academic staff
Students 26,085 (2014/15)[5]
Undergraduates 20,570 (2014/15)[5]
Postgraduates 5,510 (2014/15)[5]

Campus Varied (Urban/ Rural)
Colours Logo:Navy blue & Bronze
Seal:Red & Gold
Affiliations EUA
Website www.ulster.ac.uk
Ulster University re-branded logo

Ulster University (Irish: Ollscoil Uladh,[6][7][8] Ulster Scots: Ulstèr Universitie[9] or Ulstèr Varsitie),[10] officially the University of Ulster,[11] is a multi-campus public university located in Northern Ireland. It is often referred to informally and unofficially as Ulster, or by the abbreviation UU.[12][13][14] It is the second largest university on the island of Ireland, after the federal National University of Ireland.

Established in 1968 as the New University of Ulster, it merged with Ulster Polytechnic in 1984, incorporating its four Northern Irish campuses under the University of Ulster banner. The university incorporated its four campuses in 1984; located in Belfast, Coleraine, Magee College in Derry, and Jordanstown. The university has branch campuses in both London and Birmingham, and an extensive distance learning provision. The university rebranded as Ulster University from October 2014 and this included a revised visual identity. However its official name remains the University of Ulster.

It has one of the highest further study and employment rates in the UK, with over 90% of graduates being in work or further study six months after graduation.[15] The university is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities,[16] the European University Association, Universities Ireland and Universities UK.


The New University of Ulster (NUU) incorporated Magee College founded in 1865 in Derry. Magee College was a college of the Royal University of Ireland from 1880 and later became associated with the University of Dublin (better known as Trinity College) when the Royal University was dissolved in 1908 and replaced by the National University of Ireland. In 1953 Magee College broke its links with Dublin and became Magee University College. It was hoped by groups led by the University for Londonderry Committee that this university college would become Northern Ireland's second university after The Queen's University of Belfast. However, this did not happen and instead it was subsumed into the New University, primarily as a result of the unwillingness of the Unionist government at Stormont to have the second university sited in overwhelmingly nationalist Derry, in which "The Troubles" were just beginning to break out. The decision caused an outcry at the time.[17]

The university was built at Coleraine as part of Her Majesty's Government's expansion of higher education in the 1960s. Following a review of higher education in Northern Ireland under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Chilver in 1982 the direct-rule government decided to merge NUU with the Ulster Polytechnic to form the University of Ulster (dropping "New" from the name.) The merger took effect on 1 October 1984. Whilst the university was established in 1968 it can trace its roots back to 1845 when Magee College was endowed in Derry, and 1849, when the School of Art and Design was inaugurated in Belfast.

Campus One, the Virtual Campus of the university, was launched on 8 October 2001 which successfully facilitated the provision on undergraduate and postgraduate level courses via distance learning.[18] The university now simply refers to this as distance learning.

The university formerly had a laboratory named ‘The University of Ulster Freshwater Laboratory’ on the shore of Lough Neagh in Ballymaguigan. The Freshwater Laboratory, although not a campus was a site of the university and consisted of on-campus accommodation, classrooms and testing labs. Courses offered were in agriculture, the wildlife of Lough Neagh, water testing and other aquatic courses. The site is now owned by Magherafelt District Council. By 2010, the area had become popular with the locals for camping, fishing and sailing.

In autumn 2011 Vice-Chancellor Barnett announced a programme of financial restructuring with the aim of reducing the number of staff employed by the University from 3,150 to 3,000.[19] Staff at the University expressed concern about the proposed means and impact of the restructuring, citing "the use of the threat of compulsory redundancy to bully and intimidate staff" and the belief that the University was "abdicating its responsibilities to the wider community that funds it".[20]

In April 2012, the Ulster University branch of the University and College Union (UCU) declared a formal dispute with university management over its implementation of the restructuring, stating that the recourse to "premature deadlines and unwarranted threats of compulsory redundancy" was "unreasonable as well as contrary to University policy and corporate goals".[21]


Belfast Campus main building, 2008
Belfast Campus arts building, 2010
Jordanstown Campus Library Exterior, 2015
Jordanstown Campus Foyer Interior, 2015
Jordanstown Campus Health Sciences Building, 2015
Jordanstown Campus Engineering Village, 2015
Coleraine Campus, 2007
Magee College, 2005

Four university campuses are situated in Northern Ireland in Belfast, Coleraine, Derry (Magee College) and Jordanstown. Additionally, two further branch campuses in both London and Birmingham in England deliver courses.

An online distance learning provision also offers Ulster University courses globally. The University was among the first Universities to offer degree level programs through its, previous "Campus One" program and was a pioneer in the introduction of online degree level courses in Biomedical Science.[18][22] The university was subsequently selected by the European Commission to deliver the world's first Higher Educational Programme in Hydrogen Safety Engineering.[23]


The Belfast campus is situated in the artistic and cultural centre of the city; the Cathedral Quarter. Although traditionally associated with Art and home to the university’s School of Art, originally inaugurated as the Belfast School of Art and Design in 1849, the campus spans an increasing and exciting range of subjects including architecture, hospitality, event management, photography and digital animation. The award-winning Law Clinic is based at the Belfast campus, offering free legal advice on social security and employment law.

The campus comprises purpose-built design spaces, studios for recording and editing live and off-air television, sound recording, mixing and animation and teaching and exhibition areas. The campus plays host to frequent fashion and art exhibitions. Ulster University has been expanding and developing the Belfast campus since 2009 as part of one of Northern Ireland's largest-ever urban developments, and nearly 15,000 students and staff will soon be based in the city centre. The first phase of this development opened in 2015.


The Coleraine campus is situated on the banks of the River Bann with views to the North Coast and County Donegal hills. Subjects taught at Coleraine include biomedical sciences, environmental science and geography, pharmacy, psychology, the humanities, film and journalism, travel and tourism as well as teacher training. The Coleraine campus hosts the only optometry school in Northern Ireland and is home to the Riverside Theatre, the third-largest professional theatre in Northern Ireland.

The campus now hosts a number of courses which were previously held at the Portrush site which was part of the Coleraine Campus and home to the School of Hotel, Leisure and Tourism. The site closed in 2008 and courses were relocated to the Coleraine and the newly developed Belfast campuses.

In 2009 the university launched a new Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) course at Coleraine, becoming the top UK university for pharmacy and pharmacology in 2014 and maintaining that position in 2015.

In July 2011, in cooperation with Zhejiang University of Media and Communications (ZUMC), 'The Confucius Institute at Ulster University' (CIUU) was developed. The Confucius Institute is part of a network of 322 institutes in over 50 countries which promote and teach Chinese language and culture and facilitate cultural exchanges aimed at fostering trade links with China.[24]


The Jordanstown campus, often informally referred to as UUJ, is the largest university campus. The 114-acre (0.46 km2) site is located seven miles north of Belfast city centre situated at the foot of the Antrim Hills overlooking Belfast Lough. The buildings are mostly situated around a central mall with on-site stores and services. The campus has a strong profile in business, engineering, social sciences (including law), communication and academic disciplines relating to the science and coaching of sport. Sport plays a significant part in the life of the campus. It is home to the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland, a partnership between the University and Sport Northern Ireland, and most of Northern Ireland's elite athletes train in the impressive facilities. The campus is also the only university in Northern Ireland to offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in various Allied Health Professions, such as Cardiac and Respiratory Clinical Physiology, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiography, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry and Speech and Language Therapy. The campus is also the only campus delivering courses in Biomedical Engineering within Northern Ireland.


The Magee campus in the city of Derry comprises a mixture of historic and new buildings in a Victorian residential area. It was named after Martha Magee and opened in 1865 as a Presbyterian Christian arts and theological college.[25] Since 1953, it has had no religious affiliation, and was one of the founding campuses of the university in 1968. Ongoing investment in the Magee campus provides teaching, research and support facilities for students and staff. This investment has delivered a student residential village offering en-suite accommodation, a library, the Intelligent Systems Research Centre and the Foyle Arts Building.

In addition to the university’s teaching and learning facilities, the campus has on-site residential, catering and sports facilities. Sports facilities include a multi-purpose sports hall, fitness suite and studio as well as a grass and floodlit synthetic 3G pitch with pavilion and changing facilities.

Branch Campuses

The university has a partnership with QA Higher Education, which operates two branch campuses in England: London and Birmingham. The London campus is in Holborn, and the Birmingham campus is in the Centre City Tower.[26][27] The campuses offer courses in business, finance and computing.[28]

Organisation and governance




The six faculties of Ulster University, are:

Academic profile

The university's course provision is the largest in Northern Ireland, covering arts, business, engineering, information technology, life and health sciences, management, and social sciences. Courses have a strong vocational element and the majority include a period of industrial or professional placement.


(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2017, national)
The Guardian[35]
(2017, national)
Times/Sunday Times[36]
(2017, national)

The university is ranked annually by the Complete University Guide, The Guardian, and jointly by The Times and The Sunday Times; this makes up the UK University League Table rankings.

The institution is a leading modern university ranked in the top 150 global institutions under 50 years of age in The Times Higher Education 150 Under 50 World University rankings.[37]

The university is in the top 20% in international outlook in 2016, registering as 401 - 500 in the THE World University Rankings.[38]

The university scores highly for student satisfaction with the 2015 National Student Survey unveiling 89% satisfaction rates - ranking 35th out of 160 UK universities in 2015.[39]


The Research Excellence Framework 2014 exercise identified the institution as one of the top five universities in the UK for world-leading research in law, biomedical sciences, nursing and art and design. Under some metrics, it ranked the university top in Northern Ireland for research into biomedical sciences, law, business and management, architecture and built environment, art and design, social policy, sport, media studies and nursing.[40]

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 identified that 72% of the university's research activity was world leading or internationally excellent.[41] Additionally the REF evaluation identified the university as ranked:

Research Institutes

There are 15 Research Institutes at the university. These are:

Noted academics and alumni

Ulster has a large body of notable alumni, including MPs Kate Hoey, Gregory Campbell, Michelle Gildernew, Roberta Blackman-Woods and former deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Mark Durkan, MLAs Alban Maginness, Basil McCrea and Seán Neeson, writers and authors including Anne Devlin, Dinah Jefferies, Colin Duriez and Aodán Mac Póilin, poets including Gerald Dawe and Brendan Hamill, and artists including Colin Davidson, Oliver Jeffers, Victor Sloan, Andre Stitt, John Luke and John Kindness. Other alumni include composer Brian Irvine, musician David Lyttle, comedian Omid Djalili, former hostage and writer Brian Keenan, historian Simon Kitson, biomedical scientist and former Vice-Chancellor P G (Gerry) McKenna, filmmaker Brian Philip Davis, visual artist Willie Doherty, photographer Mary Fitzpatrick, film producer Michael Riley, rugby player Brian Robinson, radio and television personality Gerry Anderson, nursing academic Alison Kitson.

Notable current and former academics who have worked at Ulster include historian Antony Alcock, political scientist Monica McWilliams, poets Andrew Waterman and James Simmons, literary critic Walter Allen, physicist and subsequently Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Gareth Roberts, mathematician Ralph Henstock, solar energy technologist and President of Dublin Institute of Technology, Brian Norton, law professors Brice Dickson and Denis Moloney, Professor of Nursing Research Brendan McCormack. Turner Prize-nominated video artist Willie Doherty, Official War Artist Paul Seawright and live artist Anne Seagrave.

Academics who were elected to Membership of the Royal Irish Academy while based at Ulster include, Bertie Ussher (Classics), Norman Gibson (Economics), Amyan Macfadyen (Biology), Bill Watts (Chemistry), P G (Gerry) McKenna (Biomedical Sciences, Genetics), Sean Strain (Biomedical Sciences, Nutrition), Marshall McCabe (Geology), Peter Flatt (Biomedical Sciences, Diabetes), Séamus MacMathúna (Celtic Studies), Robert Anthony Welch (Literature), Vani Borooah (Economics), Máréaid Nic Craith (Celtic Studies), Graham Gargett (French), Helene McNulty (Biomedical Sciences, Nutrition), Pól Ó Dochartaigh (German), Robert McBride (French), Ullrich Kockel (ethnography), John McCloskey (Geosciences), and Rosalind Pritchard (Education).

Honorary degrees awarded include, the former President of the United States Bill Clinton, former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, football managers Sir Alex Ferguson and Brendan Rodgers, poet Seamus Heaney, writers Seamus Deane, Brian Friel, Frank McGuinness and Colm Tóibín, activists May Blood and Aung San Suu Kyi, actors Amanda Burton and Ewan McGregor, racehorse trainer Vincent O'Brien, bishops Seán Brady, Robin Eames, James Mehaffey, Edward Daly and Desmond Tutu, singers Enya, Van Morrison and Tommy Makem, politicians John Hume and Garret FitzGerald, politician, writer and historian Conor Cruise O'Brien, US lawyer John Connorton, US diplomat Jim Lyons, gaelic footballer Peter Canavan, rugby player David Humphreys, golfers Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, former governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten and triple jumper Jonathan Edwards.[42]

See also


  1. "Ulster University Finance Statement 2015" (PDF). Ulster University. p. 38. Retrieved 2016-07-12.
  2. "Ulster University Finance Statement 2014" (PDF). Ulster University. p. 28/30. Retrieved 2015-08-27.
  3. "James Nesbitt Lands New Role As University Of Ulster Chancellor" (Press release). University of Ulster Press Office. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
  4. "on line statistics accessed 25 August 2015". Hesa.ac.uk. Retrieved 2014-11-30.
  5. 1 2 3 "2014/15 Students by HE provider, level, mode and domicile" (XLSX). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  6. "An Scoil Teangacha agus Litríochta". Archived from the original on 2007-07-09. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
  7. "Lámhleabhar na gCúrsaí Gaeilge" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
  8. "Postgraduate Diploma / MA in Modern Ulster Scots". Archived from the original on 18 Dec 2008.
  9. Language JC Communiques 5 December 2000 North/South Ministerial Council.
  10. 2000 Annual Report in Ulster-Scots North/South Ministerial Council.
  11. Article 1 of the Charter of the University of Ulster which reads "There shall be and there is hereby constituted and founded in Northern Ireland a university with the name and style of the "University of Ulster"", the Charter being contained in the University of Ulster Charter, Statutes and Ordinances 2015-2016
  12. "Cricket Club Update 2013-2014". Ulster University Students Union (UUSU). June 10, 2014. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  13. Magee, Kevin (March 7, 2012). "Talks on University of Ulster job losses to resume". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  14. Torney, Kathryn (December 19, 2008). "UU University of Ulster in shock campus move". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  15. http://www.ulster.ac.uk/ulster-life/key-facts
  16. "ACU members". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  17. ''The Troubles: Ireland's Ordeal and the Search for Peace'' Tim Pat Coogan 2002 ISBN 978-0312294182 p50 ''et seq'' accessed 17 January 2013. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
  18. 1 2 Access & Distributed Learning http://adl.ulster.ac.uk. "eLearning at the University of Ulster". Campusone.ulster.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
  19. Moriarty, Gerry (2011-11-29). "Learning curve for North's universities as cheaper fees may create free-for-all". Irish Times 29 November 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
  20. Reisz, Matthew. "Cuts threaten access reputation, Ulster staff claim". Times Higher Education Supplement, 22 March 2012 http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=419409
  21. Fawcett, Lyn S.,"UCU Declaration of Dispute". Letter to Richard Barnett, 27 April 2012 Archived 2 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. "Archive of campusone.ulster.ac.uk". WayBackMachine / Ulster University (then University of Ulster). 8 Dec 2008. Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  23. "PgCert/PgDip/MS cc in Hydrogen Safety Engineering - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  24. "About Confucius- Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  25. "History of Magee College". UU Library. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  26. "London campus". University of Ulster.
  27. "Birmingham campus". University of Ulster.
  28. "London and Birmingham Branch Campuses Undergraduate Prospectus 2014" (PDF). University of Ulster. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  29. "Debrett's - The trusted source on British social skills, etiquette and style-Debrett's". Debrett's. Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  30. "QS World University Rankings 2016/17 - United Kingdom". Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  31. "QS World University Rankings 2016/17". Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  32. "World University Rankings 2016-17 - United Kingdom". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  33. "World University Rankings 2016-17". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  34. "University League Table 2017". The Complete University Guide. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  35. "University league tables 2017". The Guardian. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  36. "The Times and Sunday Times University Good University Guide 2017". Times Newspapers. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  37. "Ulster University". Times Higher Education (THE). 2015-06-04. Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  38. "THE World University Rankings". The Times. November 12, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  39. "National Student Survey 2015: the overall satisfaction results in full". The Times. August 12, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  40. "University Of Ulster News Release - Ulster University's world-leading research recognised for its global impact". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  41. "REF2014 | Ulster University". www.ulster.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  42. "Office of the University Secretary". www.ulster.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-16.
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