Good University Guide 2023

Arts University Bournemouth

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects
Arts University Bournemouth

Contact details


Wallisdown, Poole, BH12 5HH,

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Arts University Bournemouth (AUB), which sits between Bournemouth and Poole on the Jurassic Coast, has its buildings painted in pops of bright colour — reflecting the creative endeavours within.

Teaching is based  on a single site and facilities include the CRAB drawing studio, the first to be built at an art school for more than a century and designed by Sir Peter Cook, an alumnus. The Photography Building has flexible teaching spaces and IT suites, and TheGallery is AUB’s own exhibition space, where the work of students and other contemporary artists is showcased. The library’s Museum of Design in Plastics exhibits thousands of mass-produced design icons. 

All undergraduate courses have their own studio space, but students are encouraged to work together across disciplines on campus, learning the networking skills that will prove useful during an arts career. The Campus Halls student accommodation development, featuring curated artworks in the communal areas, is the latest addition. 

Digital support has been a focus of investment, with students benefiting from software such as the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, Microsoft Office 365 and access to LinkedIn learning courses. Digital capability is assessed at the start of the academic year and those in digital hardship receive support such as long-term laptop loans and financial help.

However, rates of student satisfaction have yet to recover from the huge falls they suffered in pandemic-hit 2021. AUB was in the top five for our measures derived from the National Student Survey (teaching quality and student experience) only two years ago. But it ranks 48= for satisfaction teaching quality in our analysis of the NSS outcomes published in summer 2022, and 81= for satisfaction with the wider experience. 

Recent feedback by students is at odds with the findings of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2017, when AUB was rated gold, the highest standard. The TEF panel praised the contributions of practising artists and creative professionals to teaching and the curriculum. Practical elements to give students a career edge are also incorporated into courses, such as live briefs for local and national businesses. 

AUB climbs 14 places up our research quality index (10 following its best outcomes yet in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021). More than 12 per cent of AUB’s research was classified as world-leading (4*) and a further 42 per cent was rated internationally excellent (3*). Architecture and history of art and design were among the strongest subjects in the university's submission.  

Boasting the largest film school outside London (Bournemouth Film School, founded more than 50 years ago) AUB is able to offer courses covering all aspects of film-making. Its partnership with Crowdfunder — an alliance that shows students how to source funding and also boosts their own graduate film budgets — is in its sixth year. In 2021, AUB's 16 graduate films raised more than £103,000. 

The university is restoring the Palace Court Theatre in Bournemouth town centre, renovating the art deco venue to include a teaching space alongside the 400-seat auditorium, interval bar and rehearsal studio. It will provide a university outpost less than five-minutes’ walk from the beach and is scheduled to open in late 2023.

Applications and enrolments increased in the 2021 admissions round, year-on-year, and very few entrants (3 per cent) secured their places via Clearing. A new foundation degree launched in September 2022 to provide students with the skills required in live music production, studio recording and media-based contexts.

Graduate prospects are a challenge for institutions with an art and design focus and AUB is near the foot of our table for its proportion of students who are in highly skilled work or further study 15 months after finishing their degree.

Professor Paul Gough, AUB’s vice-chancellor since 2020 and an art historian, broadcaster and expert on Banksy, plans to rebuild the curriculum to better embed equality, diversity and inclusion as well as the United Nations sustainability goals.

About 70 per cent of entrants receive some form of financial assistance, which includes £300 final-year bursaries to help with the extra costs incurred by final-year projects and Stand Alone bursaries of £2,000 per year of study for students estranged from their families. Tuition fees include standard course materials costs — typically a big expenditure for those on creative courses. 

The university has launched a new post-16 access scheme, All Access AUB. Participants attend a residential summer school on campus and part in creative workshops to boost their artistic confidence. Their work is then put in a two-week exhibition at TheGallery and their families invited to a private view. There are one-to-one portfolio tutorials and workshops that offer guidance on the transition to higher education too. Those who complete All Access AUB qualify for additional consideration from the admissions team and a reduced conditional offer of up to two grades lower than the published requirements. The new outreach programme may help to boost AUB’s position in our social inclusion index, where it sits 92nd. 

The Small Things Matter is a Students’ Union-run campaign promoting mindful self-care tools and more than 200 staff have been trained in mental health first aid. There is free access to the Headspace app for everyone, while drop-in and scheduled support is offered through the university’s wellbeing and counselling service. Its Report and Support channel is a pathway for students and staff to report abusive behaviour.  

For £15 a term the union offers social sports sessions such as yoga, jogging and hockey through the Give it a Go programme (regular attendees get a free hoodie). AUB does not have its own sports facilities. Instead, a subsidy allows students to share the neighbouring University of Bournemouth’s extensive gym, courts, pitches and fitness studios. An Olympic-sized velodrome ten minutes away is free for students to use.  

Now that the new halls of residence are on stream there are 1,131 study bedrooms, with tenancies released in waves from March to July to avoid any first-come, first-served scrum. All first-year full-timers can live in.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 76 (79=)
Teaching quality 76.2 48th=
Student experience 70.3 81st=
Research quality 23 104th
Ucas entry points 145 38th=
Graduate prospects 57.4 131st
Firsts and 2:1s 70.4 114th=
Completion rate 88.5 51st
Student-staff ratio 14.5 29th=

Vital statistics









Applications/places 7,180/1,435
Applications/places ratio 5:1
Overall offer rate 63.5%


Places in accommodation 1,131
Accommodation costs £165 - £227
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,250
Fees (placement year) N/A
Fees (overseas year) N/A
Fees (international) £17,950 - £19,950
Finance website
Graduate salaries £21,000


Sport points/rank 24, 126th
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 92
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 91.9%
Grammar school admissions 2.9%
Independent school admissions 5.2%
Ethnic minority students (all) 12.2%
Black achievement gap -28.5%
White working class males 4%
First generation students 38.8%
Low participation areas 9%
Working class dropout gap -1%
Mature 11.5%
EU students 7.7%
Other overseas students 7.9%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Creative writing 86.5%
Hospitality, leisure, recreation and tourism 83%
Architecture 76.7%
Art and design 76.7%
Drama, dance and cinematics 75.3%