Founded in 1856, Plymouth College of Art has been granted full university status and formally recognised with the new title of Arts University Plymouth following approval by the Privy Council, becoming the city of Plymouth’s specialist 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.
Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Arts University Plymouth, said:
“Achieving full university status is just our latest evolution in over 160 years of leading specialist arts education in the South West and internationally. This exciting news recognises the quality of the work already taking place in partnership with our undergraduate and postgraduate students and is testament to the dedication of our staff, and the ambition of our Governing body. Their tireless work has enabled us to demonstrate the value of arts education to students, to the UK economy and to a world that needs creatives now more than ever.
“Our vision for Arts University Plymouth is a new kind of art school for the 21st century, preparing graduates who are uniquely placed to provide creative solutions to the complex problems faced by modern society, spanning everything from the acceleration of new technologies to the global challenges facing healthcare, sustainability and the climate emergency.
Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks
“This is also another key moment in the development of Plymouth and a reflection on the hard work of partners across Britain’s Ocean City, including Plymouth City Council’s commitment to unlocking the city’s potential and creating an exciting, cultural and creative place for people to live and work. Research by Plymouth Culture indicates that more than £50-million has been invested in arts and culture in Plymouth from outside funders in the past five years, one million people attend events organised by creative and cultural organisations in Plymouth each year, and culture is worth more than £98 million to the city annually. From the opening of The Box, Plymouth’s flagship cultural destination, and Market Hall, featuring a 360° immersive dome that is the first of its kind in Europe, to playing host this year to British Art Show 9, the UK’s biggest touring art exhibition, there can be no doubt that Plymouth is a leading UK city for contemporary visual arts. The time is right for Arts University Plymouth to take its place as the city’s first specialist arts university.”
Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks was confirmed as Principal of Plymouth College of Art in February 2022, after joining the institution in 2016. As Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Arts University Plymouth, Professor Fieldsend-Danks will now lead the city of Plymouth’s specialist arts university.
Lady Frances Sorrell OBE, Co-Chair of the Sorrell Foundation, British designer and an Honorary Fellow of Arts University Plymouth, said:
“There’s a very special spirit of creativity and community that can be found within Arts University Plymouth. The move to formally become a university is well-deserved recognition of the pioneering work that has been undertaken by so many of the team there, but especially former Principal and Professor Emeritus Andrew Brewerton, who initiated this process.
“We first began working with Arts University Plymouth in 2009, as one of the four founding National Art&Design Saturday Clubs, and we’re delighted to still be working together. Plymouth is a special place and we’ve met some wonderful creative people in the city.”
Victoria Pomery OBE, CEO at The Box, said:
“I’m delighted that our near neighbours have achieved university status. This is wonderful news for Plymouth, a city that embraces and celebrates the power of the arts and creativity. We’ve partnered with colleagues at Plymouth College of Art on a regular basis in the past and now look forward to working with the Arts University Plymouth in the future.”
The university has also won Best Small or Specialist University at the 2022 WhatUni Student Choice Awards in May 2022 and been shortlisted for the CSR/Sustainability Transformation Award at the 2022 international Think Global Awards.
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 the Student Pulse panel of 40,000 students.