Hands-on learning has been Brunel’s approach since it was founded in 1966 with ambitions to be Britain’s leading technological university. Practical teaching and learning is embedded in all of its courses. Almost all degree courses offer the option of work placements — from a few weeks to a full academic year — and Brunel students may find themselves gaining clinical experience at King’s College Hospital in south London or getting into the swing of business at IBM.
Brunel was rated silver in the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), winning praise for high levels of employer engagement and opportunities for work experience. The TEF panel also highlighted Brunel’s analytical approach to addressing attainment gaps within its diverse student body.
Up to 30 interns a year are recruited from Brunel through a strategic alliance with the Environment Agency while Jaguar Land Rover, Disney, L’Oréal, and Morgan Stanley are among employers with links to the university. More than 700 students undertook work placements of six to 12 months in 2021.
In our analysis of the latest Graduate Outcomes survey, however, Brunel has slipped five places to joint 90th for the proportion of graduates in highly skilled work or further study within 15 months.
Brunel became the first UK university to host a live Chelsea Challenge when the football club initiative began in 2022. Students work in small teams to solve a real-life business challenge set by the Chelsea FC Foundation. The three-week intensive challenge was such a success that it will become an annual fixture.
Brunel’s growing degree apprenticeship programme adds another dimension to the focus on readiness for the workplace. So far, 469 students are enrolled on courses for clinical practitioners, nurse associates and digital technology solutions. The university also offers a police constable degree apprenticeship in partnership with the Metropolitan Police, as well as a graduate-level entry programme for the service. Brunel plans to almost double the numbers to 850 on degree apprenticeships by the start of the 2023-24 academic year.
For 2022-23, Brunel has decided on a hybrid teaching model with some in-person lectures on campus and others live online.
In common with many universities with a focus on practical courses, Brunel suffered in the 2021 National Student Survey when respondents nationwide reported low rates of satisfaction with teaching quality and the wider undergraduate experience during the pandemic. In 2021 it fell outside the top 100 in our survey analysis and remains there in 2022, although it has clawed back 11 places for satisfaction with the wider undergraduate experience (ranking 115th) and four for teaching quality (126th).
New degrees in criminology, history and international relations begin in September 2022. There are also new degree programmes in design, industrial design and product design engineering.
Hospitality, leisure, recreation and tourism produced good results for Brunel in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), along with sports science, anthropology and radiography. Overall, 72.7 per cent of Brunel’s submission was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent, an increase from 61 per cent in the previous national assessment in 2014. However, against sector-wide improvement, Brunel drops 23 places in our research quality index to rank 72nd.
More than 500 scholarships and bursaries were awarded in 2021, a level expected to have been repeated for 2022. The Brunel University London Bursary provides £1,000 in the foundation year and first year of a degree course, then, £3,000 in both year two and three, subject to progression.
Brunel has been among the most socially inclusive of the pre-1992 universities over the years, in the top 50 in all four of our social inclusion rankings published to date, although it now slips six places to 54th. Brunel ranks sixth for its relatively high proportion of students from black and ethnic minority backgrounds (76.7 per cent).
Superb sports facilities distinguish Brunel. Recent additions include a World Rugby-approved artificial pitch and strength and conditioning gym, via a partnership with Ealing Trailfinders Rugby. The university gym has been expanded and has new cardiovascular machines. Opposite the campus, the Sports Park’s facilities include an FA-registered 3G pitch and a floodlit international standard rugby pitch with natural turf, a lateral draining system and automated irrigation. There are sports scholarships for elite student athletes and all students are encouraged to get active. Brunel was the first university to introduce a sports hijab to boost participation among its female Muslim students.
The multimillion-pound Indoor Athletics Centre was refurbished in 2021 and remains a jewel in Brunel’s sporting crown. As well as a 132m straight sprint, it boasts pole vault, high jump and long/triple jump facilities. A bespoke strength and conditioning gym is for elite student athletes.
Brunel is a regional training centre for UK Athletics and some of Britain’s best sportspeople use its facilities for daily training. The rower James Cracknell (MSc sport science 1999) is among a number of Olympians who have studied at Brunel.
Accommodation is plentiful in new and refurbished rooms. All first-years are guaranteed a live-in place, and all campus facilities are within a ten-minute walk — a rarity among London universities. The West End is 45 minutes away on public transport.