University of the West of England

"UWE" redirects here. For other uses, see Uwe (disambiguation).
University of the West of England
Motto Light Liberty Learning
Type Public
Established 1992 – University status
1970 – Bristol Polytechnic
Endowment £1.8 million (2013)
Chancellor Sir Ian Carruthers
Vice-Chancellor Steven West
Students 26,670 HE (2014/15)[1]
Undergraduates 20,895 (2014/15)[1]
Postgraduates 5,775 (2014/15)[1]
Other students
550 FE[2]
Location Bristol, United Kingdom
51°30′01″N 2°32′51″W / 51.50021°N 2.54749°W / 51.50021; -2.54749Coordinates: 51°30′01″N 2°32′51″W / 51.50021°N 2.54749°W / 51.50021; -2.54749
Campus Semi-urban
Colours White, red and black
Affiliations EUA
Universities UK
Association of Commonwealth Universities

The University of the West of England (also known as UWE Bristol, or simply UWE) is a public university located near the city of Bristol, United Kingdom. The university has a history dating back to the Merchant Venturers Navigation School which was founded in 1595, with the present institution granted university status in 1992. Its main campus is at Frenchay near Bristol, about 5 miles (8 kilometres) north of the city centre and close to the M32 motorway. UWE Bristol also has campuses at Glenside in north-east Bristol and Bower Ashton, near Ashton Court in south-west Bristol. There is also a regional centre at Gloucester Docks, Gloucestershire, and an associate faculty (Hartpury College) specialising in animal behaviour and welfare, agricultural and sports related courses in Hartpury, Gloucestershire.

With 26,670 students and 3,538 staff,[3] UWE Bristol is the larger of the two universities in Bristol (the longer established University of Bristol has 21,555 students). According to HESA figures, UWE Bristol has consistently led the graduate employment market ranking higher than some of the Russell Group Universities including the likes of Bristol University, Warwick University and London School of Economics [4] with results showing 96% graduates are in work or further study 6 months after graduating, with 78% working in professional roles. This compares to the UK national averages of 94% and 71% respectively.[5]

The Chancellor of the university is Sir Ian Carruthers[6] and Steven West is the Vice-Chancellor.[7]


The University of the West of England can trace its roots back to the foundation of the Merchant Venturers Navigation School, which was founded in 1595. Part of this institution, to which the Universities of Bristol and Bath also partly owe their origins, became a technical college which, after merger with other colleges, in turn became Bristol Polytechnic in 1970; the then-main campus was at Ashley Down, now a campus of the City of Bristol College. Like the other former polytechnics, this gained university status and its present name as a result of the Further and Higher Education Act, 1992.[8]

The Bower Ashton site was formed in 1969 as the West of England College of Art which was formerly the art school of the Royal West of England Academy in Queens Road, Bristol. The St Matthias site (which is no longer owned by the university) was originally built in Victorian times and was a teacher training college. These campuses, together with campuses in Redland, Ashley Down, Unity Street and Frenchay became part of Bristol Polytechnic around 1976.

The Avon and Gloucestershire College of Health which is now the Glenside Campus and the Bath and Swindon College of Health Studies joined in January 1996. Hartpury campus joined in 1997. An £80 million student village located at the Frenchay campus, which includes a sports centre and rooms for 2000 students, opened in 2006. The university is a lead academic sponsor of Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy, a new university technical college.

In 2012, major changes were introduced to the Frenchay campus at UWE. First, the largest robotics laboratory in Europe was opened and later on in the same year the UWE Bristol International College was opened to students.[9] The International College provides international students with the necessary academic, subject-based and English language skills needed to successfully progress on to a degree course at UWE Bristol.

In the spring of 2016, UWE Bristol launched a rebanding campaign which introduces a new look to the university, with a new logo as part of the Strategy 2020.[10]


Frenchay (north), Glenside & St Matthias (east) and Bower Ashton (south). Right: Bristol within England.
Part of the UWE campus at Frenchay
View across the lake at Frenchay campus

Frenchay campus

UWE's largest and primary campus is Frenchay, situated 4 mi (6 km) to the north of Bristol city centre with Filton to the West and Stoke Gifford to the North.

As of September 2008 UWE have purchased the major part of neighbour Hewlett Packard's adjoining land, resulting in a 70-acre (28-hectare) expansion to their current 80-acre (32 ha) campus. After consultation meetings it has been stated that the campuses of Glenside and St Matthias will be moved to the Frenchay campus.[11] Bower Ashton will be retained for a longer period, but may ultimately move.[11] It is the single largest development in the university's history.[12]

The Frenchay campus will be home to the new Business and Law building, which will house the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School after completion in 2017. The facilities include two showcase law courts, a city trading room, a 300 seat lecture theatre, 2 Harvard lecture theatres and social spaces including a café and an external landscape area.[13]

The University House Services department operates three bars, one canteen and four coffee shops. Staff only facilities at Frenchay include "Felixstowe Court", "Paninos" and "Café Severn". At each of the other campuses House Services operate canteens named "Traders".

In August 2006, a new sports centre was opened at Frenchay, including a large main hall with a wooden sprung floor and two glass back squash courts. The hall has court markings for sports including, badminton, basketball, netball, 5-a-side football, volleyball and indoor hockey. There is a 70 station fitness suite, changing rooms and a hockey pitch.

The Centre for Student Affairs offers advice, counselling and career development guidance to students and there is a university-wide multi-faith chaplaincy, based at the Octagon Centre at Frenchay.

The Frenchay Campus acts as a hub for transport links for both local and national destinations. On the east side of the campus, the local bus services operate. These provide links to Central and North Bristol, Fishponds and South Gloucester. At the North Entrance to the campus Megabus services operate between South West England, Wales, London, Birmingham and the North.

The Frenchay Campus also has strong rail links being situated close to both Filton Abbey Wood (FIT) and Bristol Parkway (BPW) railway stations, providing commuter services to Bristol Temple Meads, Cardiff and Bath as well as frequent services to London, the South West, Wales and the North. Stagecoach West also provides a peak-time quality commuter coach service, using the name "Belles Express", between Gloucester (City Centre and Quedgeley) and UWE.

Bower Ashton campus

The Bower Ashton campus is home to the School of Creative Arts (formerly the Faculty of Art, Media and Design), which forms the major part of the Faculty of Creative Arts following the university reorganisation in 2007. Adjacent to the Ashton Court estate, on the edge of the city of Bristol,[14] the West of England College of Art was established in purpose-built premises in 1969, moving from its previous location as the art school of the Royal West of England Academy in Clifton. In 1970 the college became part of Bristol Polytechnic, the precursor of the university.[15]

The campus is undergoing a programme of redevelopment. Phase 1 was completed in 2008 and included a new building (F Block), which is now the main entrance to the campus. The tower block (B block) was also refurbished.[16] Workshops and resource centres are available to students as well as an art library. Every year in June the campus houses a degree show attended by Bristol residents as well as friends and families of the graduating students.[17]

Among its principals and deans were the war artist Jack Chalker, the graphic designer Paul van Der Lem, and Paul Gough RWA, a fine artist who became the first pro-vice chancellor and executive dean of the faculty in its expanded form of over 2,600 students.

Glenside campus

Main article: Glenside, Bristol
The main building of Glenside Hospital

Glenside campus is the home of the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol. It is located on Blackberry Hill in the suburb of Fishponds.[18] Stanley Spencer worked as a medical orderly at the then Beaufort War Hospital from 1915-16.

The Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences (formerly the Faculty of Health and Social Care) was created in 1996 when the former Avon and Gloucestershire College of Health and Bath and Swindon College of Health Studies joined with the existing Faculty of Health and Community Studies at UWE. The Glenside Museum is situated within the campus.[19]

The Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences includes the following departments:

It is one of the largest faculties of its kind in the UK offering full- and part-time courses at all levels, from BSc and Diploma courses to MSc and PhD, plus continuing education, in the areas of Midwifery, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Radiography, Social Work and other health-related professions. Many students undertake placements as part of their course in settings within the Avon, Gloucestershire & Wiltshire Strategic Health Authority area and in some case throughout the south west of England.

Research centres at the school are:

The school hosts the whole systems action research group Centre for Social and Organisational Learning as Action Research (SOLAR), and the Centre for Local Democracy which is a multifaculty research centre of the university.

St Matthias campus

Main article: St Matthias, Bristol
The main building at St Matthias

St Matthias (known colloquially as St Matt's) was located in the suburb of Fishponds in Bristol. Built in the Victorian times by the Church of England, the campus has some Victorian Gothic buildings, set around a sunken lawn. St Matthias campus was home to various departments of the faculty of Creative Arts, Humanities and Education.

The University of the West of England closed the campus in September 2014 (with operations on the site ceasing on 4 July 2014) as a part of a relocation project. The various departments of the faculty of Creative Arts, Humanities and Education from St Matthias and Bower Ashton have moved to new facilities at Frenchay campus. In March 2014 it was announced that, subject to planning permission, the site would be sold and redeveloped by Barratt Developments for housing and the listed buildings would become a Steiner School.[20]

UWE Stadium

Main article: UWE Stadium

As part of the masterplanning process, the University has identified an undeveloped area of 9.3 hectares which has the benefit of planning permission for office development. Potential uses for this site were considered, but it has subsequently been identified as an ‘opportunity site’ with the uses to be determined.[21]

It is part of this ‘opportunity site’ that has been identified for a new stadium by Bristol Rovers Football Club. The ‘UWE Stadium’, as it will be called, will be developed in a spirit of partnership between the University and Bristol Rovers, albeit privately financed. The proposed 21,700 seat stadium is to include retail units, a sports bar and club, a banqueting suite and venue space for hire.[22]

Organisation and administration

Coat of arms

Echoing Bristol's long connection with the sea and the Merchant Venturers' Navigation School, the top of the crest depicts a ship's mainmast and rigging. The flaming fire basket indicates guidance, hope and the desire for learning.[23]

The shield at the centre is adapted from that of the College of St Matthias with the wavy line representing the rivers of Avon and Severn. The unicorn is taken from the arms of the City of Bristol and the sea stag from those of the former County of Avon. Both these creatures wear a crown of King Edgar around their necks. Edgar is regarded as a local monarch because he was crowned in Bath Abbey in 973.[24] The wavy lines enclosed in circles on the shoulders represent the fountain of knowledge and learning.[23]

The unicorn and sea stag each support an apple tree, known as the tree of knowledge and is taken from the coat of arms of the Council for National Academic Awards which used to authorise degrees awarded to students of Bristol Polytechnic.[23]

The motto Light, Liberty, Learning is a Disraeli quotation and corresponds directly to the symbolism of the coat of arms. The fire basket represents the Light, the Bristol and Avon supporters represent liberty, and the trees of knowledge and learning.[23]


The entrance to Bristol Business School
Hartpury College

The university is divided into four faculties which are then subdivided into departments:

Academic profile

League tables

(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2017, national)
The Guardian[28]
(2017, national)
Times/Sunday Times[29]
(2017, national)

In 2016, UWE Bristol was ranked as one of the top 150 universities in the world under 50 in THE Times' ranking.[30]

UWE has consistently been ranked among the top ten new universities in the UK and has always scored 'excellent' in the teaching assessments carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency.Ofsted reports have rated UWE's primary, secondary and further education initial teacher training (ITT) courses as good.[31]

According to The Guardian Good University Guide 2013 Land & Property Management has been ranked 4th out of 18 other institutions[32] and Earth and marine sciences has been ranked 4th out of 33 other institutions in the UK.[33]

UWE Bristol works closely with many of the leading job providers, most notably with BBC, Bristol Zoo, Intel, National Health Service, Rolls-Royce, CERN and others.[34]


The volume of world-leading research at UWE Bristol has gone up by 170%, according to the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.[35] The REF 2014 results reveal that 57 percent of the research submitted by UWE was judged to be either world leading or internationally excellent. The results highlight UWE's particular strengths in the areas of allied health and nursing, and communications, cultural and media studies. Results were also outstanding in areas such as architecture, built environment and planning; engineering; art and design; computer science; and business and management.[36]

In 2010, UWE launched a research repository in order to host electronic versions of the research of its academics. The UWE Research Repository is open access.

Bristol Robotics Laboratory

Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), the largest robotics laboratory of its type in the UK was officially opened on 10 May 2012 by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science. The laboratory is a partnership between University of the West of England (UWE) and the University of Bristol.

According to EE/Times, it is the largest robotics laboratory in Europe.[37] The BRL is home to a community of 70 academics and businesses who are leading current thinking in nouvelle and service robotics, intelligent autonomous systems and bio-engineering. Over £1.65 million has been spent on the new facilities. The total area of the BRL is circa 2,400 m2, with over 300 square metres of specialised laboratory space and two Flying Arenas. [38]

The National College of Legal Training (NCLT) is a collaboration between UWE and Central Law Training, launched in January 2010 to provide postgraduate legal training.[39][40] NCLT Study centres are located at Coventry University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Southampton Solent University and University of Westminster.[41]

Student life

Students' Union

The Students' Union bar alongside the Frenchay campus Reception building in 2013

UWE Students' Union ("UWESU"), formerly known as Bristol Polytechnic Students' Union (BPSU) until it changed its name in line with its parent establishment becoming a university in 1992, is based at Frenchay campus and was established in 1971. It is run by a team of four sabbatical officers, who are elected annually from the student population. The Students' Union operates bars at main sites, "Escape" at Frenchay, "Bar 75" at Glenside, "Faculty of Creative Arts Bar" - otherwise known as the FoCA Bar. There are also shops at Frenchay, Glenside and Bower Ashton. The student radio station, Hub Radio operates out of a studio on campus.

UWESU Jobshop provides employment opportunities for students, while UWESU Student Lettings provides a comprehensive Lettings Agency exclusively for UWE students.

The new Students' Union building was completed in Summer 2015 and provides a dedicated space for UWE Students’ Union, it includes trading outlets and office accommodation for UWESU support staff. Now all UWESU activities have been brought within a single structure.[42]

Student accommodation

In September 2006, Frenchay Student Village opened providing on-campus accommodation for 1,932 students, adding to the 252 units already provided in Carroll Court. Campus accommodation is also provided at Glenside. In partnership with UNITE Student Housing a further 1,500 places are provided in Bristol City Centre and UWE Accommodation services also places students in vetted private rentals.

The main halls of residence are

The student village and Marketgate are all en suite, however Marketgate has 12 studio flats that allow for single occupancy. All other accommodation is shared bathrooms and shared kitchen facilities.[43] All accommodation at UWE is self-catering.[44]

Notable alumni

See also


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  2. "Table 1 - All students by HE institution, level of study, mode of study and domicile 2013/14" (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
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  6. Staff. "Sir Ian Carruthers OBE installed as new UWE Chancellor at Bristol Cathedral". UWE Press Office. University of the West of England. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  7. "UWE Press Release". Retrieved 28 July 2007.
  8. History of UWE
  9. "UWE history timeline – UWE Bristol: History". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
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  18. grid reference ST625763
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