A year on from winning our Modern University of the Year title in 2021, Edge Hill has toppled 20 places to rank 78th overall, after declining performance over a range of measures. Faith in teaching quality has faded: our analysis of the latest National Student Survey shows a fall of 20 places to 84=, although the university is rated gold in the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework. The panel noted that “students from diverse backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes”.
The return of face-to-face teaching in 2022 may lift the mood on campus. In our research quality index, Edge Hill has also recorded a 20-place fall year-on-year. Results of the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) showed that 62 per cent of the work submitted achieved the top two ratings: world-leading or internationally excellent. Hospitality, leisure, recreation and tourism, and information systems and management produced the best results, while submissions within law, sports science and natural sciences also did well.
The university was granted research degree-awarding powers in 2008 and its postgraduate provision is growing: a range of new master’s programmes will be launching in 2022 and 2023 in diverse subject areas such as creative arts, psychology, and sport and activity.
Edge Hill’s newly added £13 million Tech Hub has biotechnology laboratories for research into disease prevention, DNA sequencing, cloning and genetic treatments. There are new facilities for electron microscopy, used to image the surface of cells, which is valuable for research in regenerative medicine, drug development and nanomedicine. The medical school houses England’s only bioethics unit, as well as facilities for clinical skills and a simulation centre where students can apply their learning.
When the £27 million Catalyst building opened in 2018, bringing together student support services and the university library, study spaces increased by half. Creative Edge, a £17 million complex for the departments of media and computing, has studios for television, animation, sound, photography and radio. There is also a multimedia laboratory.
Although Edge Hill has fallen 20 places in our index measuring social inclusion, almost all of its students are recruited from non-selective state schools, and more than half (51.8 per cent) are the first in their family to go to university.
Edge Hill’s ambition for widening participation in higher education is demonstrated in its approach to offering medical degrees. Breaking down the subject’s elite reputation the university offers a widening access to medicine courses and a foundation year in medicine. Students from the northwest of England from secondary schools with below average pupil performance and who meet widening access criteria qualify for entry requirements of BBB at A-level – three grades lower than for direct entry to the five-year programme. Those who successfully complete the foundation year progress directly to the medicine degree. There is also a seven-week intensive preparation for higher education programme for adults, offering an alternative route to entry outside the published Ucas course tariffs.
A completion rate that places Edge Hill within the upper half of universities nationally is evidence that the support package offered to students from non-traditional backgrounds who join is effective. The university invests £1.4 million a year in a range of scholarships and bursaries. These include £2,000 excellence scholarships that reward success outside studies, a university scholarship of up to £2,000 recognising current students who contribute to equality and diversity, and the student opportunity fund – also worth up to £2,000 and open for application from students for a career-enhancing opportunity. Non-means-test academic achievement awards of £1,000 are given to the highest performing student in each subject area based on their verified end-of-year results.
A degree in children’s learning in development welcomed its first students in September 2022, as did electrical engineering and the new intelligent automation and robotics degree. On top of next year’s engineering degree launches the university is introducing degrees in film and broadcast production and in education and special educational needs.
To the east of the main Ormskirk campus, Edge Hill’s £30 million sports centre has an eight-court sports hall, 25m swimming pool, 80-station fitness suite, aerobics studio and health suite with sauna and steam rooms. Outdoors, there is a trim trail with exercise stations, a competition-standard running track, rugby, hockey and football pitches, an athletics field and netball and tennis courts.
Student accommodation in the elegant 1930s-designed Main Building has been refurbished, providing en-suite accommodation on campus. The Backs Halls accommodation is in line for demolition, to make way for further modern student bedrooms in the centre of campus. A total of 2,340 rooms are available across 12 halls communities and first-years who apply by the housing deadline are guaranteed one.
Edge Hill is a certified hedgehog-friendly campus and also welcomes its resident ducks on two lakes. Students can relax at La Plage, a man-made sandy beach on campus. Those in search of brighter lights than those offered by characterful Ormskirk can reach all that Liverpool has to offer within a 30-minute train trip.