Newman describes itself as a “teaching-led” university and does not employ staff for research alone, to ensure that students have regular contact with active researchers. In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) Newman doubled the size of its academic team submitting work compared with the previous national assessment in 2014 — and also doubled the amount of its world-leading research. Ninety-four per cent of its work in English was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent, the top two categories. Overall, however, Newman is in near the bottom overall in our research quality index (126=).
Newman’s 11-place fall for research holds back its progress in our main academic table, where it has gained four places to rank 118th.
The university is one of the smallest in our guide, with fewer than 3,000 students at its leafy location overlooking the Bartley reservoir and Worcestershire countryside. Its strategy for 2020-25 envisages gradual growth, but the disruption of the last two years has delayed progress on this target. As a former teacher training college, education courses remain the university’s biggest recruiter. Degrees for both primary and secondary teachers have been relaunched this year, with an accent on post-16 enhancement at secondary level.
A new School of Nursing and Allied Health has been established to broaden the curriculum. An immersive laboratory, recreating the experience of working in a busy hospital environment, is due for completion in 2022. New degrees in adult nursing, mental health nursing and physiotherapy will take their first students in 2023, making use of the new facilities.
Policing, sociology, and psychology with criminology are also being introduced in 2023 at degree level. Every full-time degree has a work placement module and the university stresses the development of transferable skills useful for further study or employment after graduation. It has paid off, with a 15-place rise to rank 87= in our analysis of the latest Graduate Outcomes survey, tracking the proportion of students in highly skilled work or further study 15 months after finishing their degree course.
The focus on employability helped to secure a silver rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework. Most teaching will be delivered in person in the coming academic year although learning materials will be available online, and most assessment will also take place on campus.
Newman has risen two places to reach the top ten in our social inclusion index. Enrolments from non-selective state schools are the highest in the country (99 per cent) and Newman also has the biggest proportion of students who are the first in their family to experience higher education (72.2 per cent). More than 45 per cent come from black, Asian or ethnic minority backgrounds, although the university has struggled to close the achievement gap between black students and others, ranking 102nd.
The institution is named after John Henry Newman, the 19th-century cardinal who wrote The Idea of a University in 1852, and is still guided by his vision of a community of scholars. It claims to be a “different kind of university”, driven by the belief that higher education should enable students to develop new ways of understanding the world and help make a positive impact within it. This comes with small class sizes and an interactive learning style. Its Catholic ethos has been retained, but students are recruited from all faiths and none.
Newman is part of the Aimhigher West Midlands consortium, with the other Birmingham universities and Worcester, which offers a range of activities, information, advice and guidance for young people aged 13-19. The university runs its own outreach programmes and has partnerships with schools and further education colleges in the region, offering intensive support and opportunities to their students.
No bursaries are available for students in the 2022-23 academic year, but the Newman University Support Fund provides up to £1,750 a year for those experiencing hardship having exhausted other forms of support. There are also six Sanctuary Scholarships for asylum seekers and their families, four of them reserved for Ukrainians in a scheme introduced this year.
First-year students are guaranteed one of the 282 places in university-owned accommodation. The halls of residence are close to the teaching areas and library, and sports facilities are all on campus. There is a well-equipped fitness suite and performance room, as well as a 3G sports pitch, sports hall, gymnasium and squash courts. Birmingham city centre, with its cultural attractions and student-orientated nightlife, is within easy reach.