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Arts University Plymouth voted the best art university for student satisfaction in the UK

Arts University Plymouth voted the best art university for student satisfaction in the UK

This year, students have rated Arts University Plymouth above the national average in every main category of the National Student Survey, voting the university the top arts university in the UK for student satisfaction

Within six weeks of achieving University Title and a national win for Best Small or Specialist University at this year’s WhatUni Student Choice awards, students have voted Arts University Plymouth the top arts university in the UK for overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey (NSS)

Sitting proudly alongside the UK’s top arts universities and other excellent regional providers, Arts University Plymouth has increased satisfaction in every major category of the NSS. The level of overall student satisfaction at Arts University Plymouth is now 81%, rising by 12% from 2021 to 2022 and ranking the university significantly above the national average of 76%. 

Across the 2022 NSS, Arts University Plymouth received improved scores in all of the eight major categories. This means that this year students have ranked the college higher than last year in the main NSS categories of “the teaching on my course”, “learning opportunities”, “assessment and feedback”,“academic support”, “organisation and management”, “learning resources”, “learning community”, and “student voice”


Student satisfaction has increased 12% since last year

Arts University Plymouth is fortunate to have a close-knit community offering a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses spanning arts, design and media. Six undergraduate courses received an overall satisfaction rate above 90%, including BA (Hons) Game Arts and BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking, and eight courses achieved 100% satisfaction rates in multiple categories

81%of Arts University Plymouth students completed the NSS this year, significantly above the national average of just 69%, demonstrating the high rate of engagement from students despite the difficult period for students nationally preceding the survey.

Arts University Plymouth recently won Best Small or Specialist University at the 2022 WhatUni Student Choice Award. Accepting the award (with Richard Ayoade) from Arts University Plymouth are Student Recruitment, Admissions and Enquiries Operations Manager, Sarah Allen (blue dress) and Head of Communications and Marketing, Lauren Taverner Brown (red dress)

The results come at a pivotal time in Arts University Plymouth’s history after it secured University Title in May, supporting the Vice Chancellor’s vision for the future ambitions of the University. Arts University Plymouth also won Best Small or Specialist University at the 2022 WhatUni Student Choice Awards in May 2022. The WUSCA Small or Specialist category celebrates the overall experience of students, with a focus on lecturers and teaching quality, the Students’ Union experience, facilities and student life, and is determined based on the reviews of students currently enrolled at the institution. 

Some of the reviews contributing to the win include: “Amazing facilities and staff, who will help anyone. Overall, a really inspiring environment. I enjoyed the workshops so much, they were very motivating and I feel so ready to create!” and “The university has so many great facilities, available to all students, even if you aren’t studying that particular course. I absolutely loved studying here and couldn’t recommend it enough to other soon-to-be students!”

In the Graduate Outcomes survey from 2019/20, results found that 100% of students from BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design & Styling and BA (Hons) Fashion Communication have gone straight into work or further study with 90% of BA (Hons) Graphic Communication graduates and 93% of all Masters graduates going onto work in highly skilled job roles.


81% of students completed the NSS this year, significantly above the national average of just 69%

Students who voted this year and last year’s NSS have experienced a particularly challenging few years so this excellent overall score is testament to the hard work of students and staff working collaboratively at Arts University Plymouth throughout the pandemic to achieve excellence in their creative subjects.

Dr. Stephen Felmingham, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at Arts University Plymouth, said:“Whilst we are delighted to be in excellent company with a host of prestigious general and specialist universities this year, we will continue to use the student voice at Arts University Plymouth and the importance of an excellent student experience to guide everything that we do and allow no room for complacency.”  

Arts University Plymouth’s Class of 2022 is enjoying a trend of successful graduates at this year’s New Designers festival, with BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts graduate Bonnie Mustoe-Whitehill being awarded Runner Up for New Designer of the Year award and fellow BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts graduate Lee Armitage shortlisted for the Conran Shop Design Award.

Recent award winners at the 2022 Summer Show awards spoke highly of the institution. BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing and Printmaking graduate Chloe Sweetlove, who won the Board of Governors award for overcoming obstacles while demonstrating significant contribution to university life, said, “We have such freedom to find our own paths as artists… Being pushed to think for ourselves allowed us to truly find what it is we are capable of doing.”

Sue Bown, a fellow BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing and Printmaking graduate who also won at this year’s Summer Show Awards, took home the Pro-Vice Chancellor’s Commendation award for her outstanding work exhibited at this year’s Summer Show. Sue said,

“I’ve had an amazing time at Arts University Plymouth. The most striking thing is the inclusivity. Speaking as a mature student, I have felt on an equal footing with everyone. Whether you’re part time, full time, old, young, no matter your gender or race, everyone is equal there. The staff and the technicians are so supportive and make everything so accessible. I can only speak from my experience, but they’ve got it right.”

More about Arts University Plymouth – A new kind of arts university since 1856

Formerly known as Plymouth College of Art, Arts University Plymouth achieved University Title at the end of May 2022 and has been formally recognised as the UK’s newest arts university. With 166 years of history in the city, the move to become Arts University Plymouth comes after the institution, which has delivered Higher Education for over 20 years, received Taught Degree Awarding Powers in 2019.

1. Top 5

Arts University Plymouth achieved University Title in May 2022

Former Education Secretary Michelle Donelan said:

“As a government, we are committed to supporting and recognising the value of creative providers which is why I am delighted to announce that Plymouth College of Art has been granted full university status. This recognition is fully deserved and an historical moment for the city of Plymouth.

“With this new status, I am confident that Arts University Plymouth will continue to help make dreams come true and equip graduates for a career in the creative industries whilst providing a blueprint for success to other creative providers.”

Richard Bingley, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said:

“I’m absolutely thrilled for Arts University Plymouth’s excellent staff and talented, hard-working, body of students. Moreover, from a Council and city perspective, to now have three Universities located within our Ocean City fills me with enormous pride and a real sense of practical optimism for the future.

“The central objective of our new administration is to deliver higher-value jobs for Plymouth. Hosting three Universities within our city means that we can clearly demonstrate an innovative and broadening skills base here. This is a clear benefit to existing employers looking to upscale, as well as potential investors into our city.”

Hannah Harris, CEO of Plymouth Culture said,

“Being awarded university title is not only testament to the high quality and hard work of Arts University Plymouth, but it’s exciting news for the city. It helps to add to our desire to establish Plymouth as a magnet city, attracting and retaining the best creative talent. We have seen other cities like Liverpool, Leeds and Bristol thrive through investment in culture. AUP is an important milestone in unlocking endless opportunities for students and businesses, and is very much aligned with the strategic ambitions of the city.”

Harriet and Paige with the award

Harriet Moore, AUP:SU President 2020 – 2022 (left) and Paige Nolan, previously Student Union manager (right) with their Think Student Award

Arts University Plymouth was also shortlisted this year for the CSR/Sustainability Transformation Award at the 2022 International Think Global Awards, and Arts University Plymouth’s Students’ Union recently won Best Campaign Supporting Student Wellbeing at the Think Student Awards, beating leading international universities to be selected as the winner by a Student Pulse panel of 40,000 students.

(Please note that results published by the OfS on 6 July 2022 currently list Arts University Plymouth’s results under the university’s former name Plymouth College of Art)

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