David Jones, the creator of the hit Grand Theft Auto video game, is an Abertay graduate and the university heads the InGAME research and development project at the forefront of the renowned Dundee video games cluster. Abertay also hosts the national Centre for Excellence in Computer Games Education. All games students become members of UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE), the gateway to a bespoke programme of industry mentorship and support. There is more to come: the university is one of the partners in a project to bring Scotland’s first esports arena to the regenerated waterfront in Dundee by 2024.
The university’s global reputation in experimental design is again reflected in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), where one of its strongest performances was in art and design — covering work in digital games. Research in engineering also did well, including the fields of cybersecurity, computing and environmental engineering. However, Abertay’s overall submission was relatively small, covering eight subject areas, and the university has fallen ten places in our research quality index (101st).
Abertay’s superb record in the National Student Survey (NSS) earned it University of the Year for Teaching Quality in The Good University Guide 2021. However, the pandemic dealt a huge blow to student satisfaction. The university has climbed one place on student satisfaction with teaching quality (17th) and fallen three for satisfaction with the overall experience (46=). Hybrid in-person and remote teaching continues to be the model post-pandemic. Individual programmes decide the best balance of on-campus teaching and online delivery for their students.
Eight new online programmes in business and computing subjects began in 2022. Designed to appeal to students who hope to combine their studies with a job or with caring responsibilities, the courses offer flexible start dates and a pay-per-module finance structure. Abertay plans to extend the subjects offered in this format year-on-year, according to demand, and predicts the model will be popular with those returning to education or seeking to upskill to further their career.
Seven new degrees are being introduced in 2022 and 2023. Criminology can be combined with policing or sociology, and psychology with development and education, forensic and investigative psychology, or forensic scene investigation. Degrees in food science, nutrition and wellbeing, and social care management will also add breadth to the curriculum.
Abertay was rated silver in the latest Teaching Excellence Framework in 2017, commended for embedding employability within the curriculum. The panel also highlighted course design and assessment, which provides scope for students to be stretched. Teaching encourages engagement and commitment among students, the panel added.
Most courses have a work placement built in and there are mandatory interdisciplinary courses for all undergraduates. Abertay offers Scotland’s first accelerated degrees — which take three years, rather than the standard four in the Scottish system.
Students from the School of Business, Law and Social Sciences benefit from Abertay’s longstanding links with Heineken to be offered the opportunity to create marketing solutions for a real-world brief. Student enterprise is funded by Santander. According to our analysis of graduate prospects, the university is 81st, based on the proportion of graduates in highly skilled work or postgraduate study 15 months after leaving.
Abertay is once again No 1 in our Scottish social inclusion index, for the third successive year. The first university north of the border to introduce contextual offers to relax entry requirements for the most disadvantaged students, Abertay also runs its own part-time access programme with evening classes for prospective students without formal qualifications who have been away from education for at least three years. A network of pathways from further education colleges also offer a way in to university.
About half of Abertay’s students qualify for some form of scholarship or bursary. The university’s sports science research scholarships enable students and staff to work with clubs such as Dundee Rugby, Dundee United Football Club, Fife Flyers Hockey Club and the World Karate Federation. A link with the leading mobile games company Ninja Kiwi Europe provides scholarship funding as well as support for Abertay’s games design competition.
About 500 study rooms are available from £65 per week in a twin room. New students who apply by August 1 are guaranteed accommodation.
During freshers week, students must take a compulsory training module to make sure they understand sexual consent and there is a live session on diversity and inclusivity. The university’s mental health service is free, offering self-help resources, one-to-one therapy and seminars.
Promising a more personal undergraduate experience than bigger universities can offer, Abertay has fewer than 4,000 students in Scotland’s fourth-largest city.