Good University Guide 2023

Northumbria University

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects

Northumbria declares it is ready to “take on tomorrow” as a “research-intensive modern university”. In 15 years, the university has transformed its research capacity and is celebrating improved results in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) and a rise in our research quality index to 58th. The number of staff with work rated world-leading or internationally excellent has leapt from 58 in 2008 to 840 in 2021. 

Professor Andrew Wathey had a triumphant send-off in May 2022 after serving as vice-chancellor throughout the period, ending with a 149 per cent increase in research funding. Wathey has been replaced by Professor Andy Long, who moved from the University of Nottingham. He takes over an institution on the way up, jumping 13 places in our main academic league table into the top 50.

Student satisfaction has recovered — up 31 places to 85= in terms of the overall undergraduate experience, according to our analysis of the latest National Student Survey — after dipping more than most during the pandemic.

Graduate prospects is another metric that has shown year-on-year improvement, up ten places to the top 40 in our analysis of the Graduate Outcomes survey, tracking the numbers in professional jobs or postgraduate study 15 months after leaving university.

The return to on-campus learning for the 2022-23 academic year has been welcomed and the university is providing weekly communications to guide students through their learning plan. A series of pre-induction “learning to learn” activities are offered from April to prepare new students for university, developing their digital and academic fluency, familiarising them with online learning resources, the e-learning portal and student support systems, as well as connecting with fellow students and staff.

More than £250 million has been invested in new and modernised facilities over the past decade at Northumbria’s two campuses, one in the heart of the city and the other three miles away at Coach Lane, which houses the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. Further afield, the university has a base in London, near Liverpool Street station, and also offers courses in Amsterdam in partnership with the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Northumbria has world-class teaching facilities for engineering funded by a £2 million grant from the Office for Students. New facilities include a 120-seat microelectronics and communications laboratory with 100 individual workspaces, as well as space for group work with industry partners. More than 560 employers and 60 professional bodies sponsor or accredit Northumbria’s programmes. The university is also a leader in successful start-ups. The latest Higher Education Business and Communities Interaction survey for 2020-21 placed Northumbria in the top five in the UK, with turnover for its graduate start-ups reaching £95.3 million. It was the 12th consecutive year that Northumbria has been in the top ten.

Six degrees, in business, economics, and sport and exercise science, take their first students in September 2022. Another six will be launched in 2023 in computer science, data science, artificial intelligence, games computing, business computing, and networks and cybersecurity. The university offers 21 higher or degree apprenticeship programmes and expects trainees to exceed 2,000 in 2023. Apprenticeships range from nursing, policing and engineering to programmes for architects, chartered surveyors and academics.

Northumbria’s relationship with neighbouring Newcastle University is much stronger than is often found between institutions in other cities. The Collaborative Newcastle Universities Agreement is an innovative partnership to support the economic and social recovery of the region post-Covid. One example is NUdata, a centre for doctoral training in data-intensive science. The universities have teamed up with more than 40 industrial partners including Amazon Alexa, the BBC, Britishvolt, the Met Office and the National Audit Office, all of which rely heavily on big data to deliver their services. 

Northumbria has a wide range of scholarships and bursaries to encourage underrepresented groups into higher education and has the 12th-highest proportion of white working-class male recruits, the most underrepresented group.

A 20 per cent discount on postgraduate fees is an incentive to stick with the books. Northumbria scores in the top 25 for recruitment from areas of low participation in higher education. As well as targeting local students, the university offers global scholarships of up to £3,000, which are taken up by 80 per cent of international students. 

The university has a strong record in competitive sport, and students enjoy good facilities at both campuses. The £30 million Sport Central development at the City site was refurbished in 2019 and has a pool, sports science laboratories, sports halls and a 3,000-seat arena. Northumbria has some illustrious sporting alumni, including the England rugby players Owen Farrell, Anthony Watson and Mako Vunipola. They all graduated with the business school’s leadership and management distance-learning degree, which was designed with the Rugby Players’ Association and provides the flexibility to study around a sporting career.

En-suite accommodation is guaranteed to all first-years from a stock of 2,880 rooms owned or endorsed by the university. Newcastle’s nightlife is legendary and the city features regularly among the most affordable study locations. Culture is thriving too. Gallery North, part of the University Gallery, has been refurbished and relaunched as a public space, and Northumbria has forged a partnership with the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, in Gateshead, for teaching and research.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 49 (62=)
Teaching quality 74.1 82nd=
Student experience 70.1 85th=
Research quality 40.6 58th
Ucas entry points 137 47th
Graduate prospects 78.2 40th
Firsts and 2:1s 80 49th=
Completion rate 83.4 81st=
Student-staff ratio 15.7 52nd=
World ranking - 651= (701=)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 23,890/6,055
Applications/places ratio 3.9:1
Overall offer rate 88.9%


Places in accommodation 2,769
Accommodation costs £86 - £185
Catered costs £125 - £126
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,250
Fees (placement year) £1,850
Fees (overseas year) £1,385
Fees (international) £16,500 - £20,500
Finance website
Graduate salaries £24,000


Sport points/rank 1,368, 28th
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 73
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 88.6%
Grammar school admissions 5.1%
Independent school admissions 6.3%
Ethnic minority students (all) 11.1%
Black achievement gap -31%
White working class males 8.2%
First generation students 50.6%
Low participation areas 18.4%
Working class dropout gap -2.2%
Mature 19.7%
EU students 5.6%
Other overseas students 6.4%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Mathematics 95%
Chemistry 94.4%
Civil engineering 94.2%
Physics and astronomy 87.4%
Drama, dance and cinematics 85.4%
Geography and environmental science 84.2%
Information systems and management 84.2%
Hospitality, leisure, recreation and tourism 83%
Communication and media studies 82.1%
Physiotherapy 81.6%
Subjects allied to medicine 81.5%
English 80.7%
Sports science 80.7%
Social work 79.7%
History 79.4%
Politics 78.5%
Accounting and finance 78.1%
Building 77.5%
Art and design 76.6%
Psychology 75.1%
Business, management and marketing 74.3%
Electrical and electronic engineering 74.2%
Architecture 73.3%
Education 72.6%
Archaeology and forensic science 72.3%
Computer science 71.6%
Law 69%
Biological sciences 68.6%
Nursing 64.5%
Criminology 58.3%
Sociology 58.3%
Mechanical engineering 53%