The university’s origins can be traced back to 1845, when the Norwich School of Design was established by the artists and followers of the Norwich school of painters, known for its landscape painting. Former tutors include Lucian Freud, Lesley Davenport and Michael Andrews.
University status was granted in 2012 and, with growth in its sights, NUA has developed a range of fine facilities. Duke Street Riverside opened in 2021, with 100 rooms for first-year students above a lecture theatre and teaching facilities beside the River Wensum.
The university’s development programme has recently provided teaching facilities for film and moving image production, photography, and fashion communication and promotion. The Sir John Hurt Film Studio, named after the late actor and NUA chancellor, is in a grade II listed building that also houses the School of Architecture and won an award for the design of its renovation.
Next to come is Bank Plain, a 37,000 sq ft city centre site that will combine teaching, research, exhibition and public access spaces when it opens in early 2023. Student support services will also move to Bank Plain, as will the students’ union, a café and social areas including a climbing wall.
The new focal point should help to boost rates of student satisfaction, which tumbled in the latest National Student Survey. Having done well to rank tenth for satisfaction with teaching quality in the pandemic chaos of 2021, our analysis of outcomes from 2022 shows a precipitous 35-place fall to 45th place. NUA has lost even more ground year-on-year in terms of its students’ evaluation of the wider undergraduate experience, falling from 66th to 108=.
Declining satisfaction has contributed to NUA dropping 14 places down our main academic league table to 70th place. The university is committed to continuing with “flexible, digital learning” in 2022-23, combining digital teaching methods with practical skills sessions on campus.
Pre-pandemic teaching earned NUA a gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Course design and assessment practices encouraged experimentation, creative risk-taking and team working, the TEF panel found, providing “outstanding levels of stretch for students”.
A degree in creative computing welcomed its first students in September 2022 and will be joined by one in creative technology from 2023. Short courses in creative coding and UX (user experience) design have also been introduced.
However, despite improving graduate prospects, the university remains in the bottom ten in our analysis, compared with its peers — partly because art and design graduates tend to have the lowest employment levels all over the UK. About two thirds of graduates are in high-skilled jobs or postgraduate study 15 months after leaving university.
NUA leads a regional outreach network in partnership with Cambridge, East Anglia, Anglia Ruskin and Suffolk universities and is in the top half overall for social inclusion (51=). The vast majority of its undergraduates come from non-selective state schools and the proportion drawn from deprived postcodes (16.9 per cent) is among the top 30 nationally. Only six universities have a higher proportion of disabled students (12.6 per cent).
Applicants are offered a place on the strength of their portfolio and responses to questions in the admissions process, not solely on their predicted grades. The approach is successful, going by NUA’s low projected dropout rate (8.9 per cent) — 2.9 per cent better than the expected level (11.8 per cent) based on its students’ backgrounds and the mix of courses.
Up to half the entrants are expected to qualify for financial support in 2023, which includes a contribution towards the cost of materials, equipment and other expenses where household income is below £25,000.
In the absence of their own sports facilities, NUA students have access to the University of East Anglia’s Sportspark, which includes an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The city of Norwich is popular with students and is one of the safest and greenest in the UK. All first-years can be housed in student accommodation.