QMU has been growing in popularity among prospective students, although its small size, at fewer than 5,000 full-time students in Edinburgh, encourages fluctuations in recruitment statistics. It attracted its largest ever volume of applications in 2021, but ended up with a smaller intake than the record numbers it took the previous year. Entry standards have been rising, taking the university into our top 20 on this measure in our latest guide and helping it to maintain a mid-table position overall.
The university is planning five years of growth and already has more than 3,000 students taking its qualifications in partner institutions outside Scotland. One obstacle to its ambitions will be the loss of free tuition for European Union students, who previously accounted for a fifth of admissions. Business management will be one area of expansion, with two new degrees launched this year and two more planned for 2023, one specialising in digital marketing and the other in human resources.
Three quarters of the undergraduates are female, as befits an institution that started out in 1875 as a cookery school for women. The university, which is named after St Margaret, the 11th-century wife of King Malcolm III of Scotland, remains strong in teaching and research on hospitality and food. A new degree in food science and innovation is planned for next year.
QMU hosts the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation, and a Food and Drink Innovation Hub is scheduled to open in 2025. The restaurateur and Great British Bake Off host Dame Prue Leith is the university’s chancellor.
QMU also has the broadest range of allied health courses in Scotland and is one of only three universities north of the border to offer paramedic science. Health and rehabilitation is regarded as one of the three “flagship areas”, together with sustainable business and creativity and culture. Scotland’s first BSc in public health takes its first students this month.
The university does well in our social exclusion index(third in Scotland) and has committed to recruiting greater numbers from disadvantaged groups. About half of QMU's undergraduates qualify for university bursaries of up to £2,000 a year and there are fee reductions of £3,000 for some international students. QMU promises a “student-centred approach” with a culture of personalised support, and has trained nearly a quarter of its workforce in mental health first aid.
Most teaching has returned to campus, although larger lectures and 70 per cent of assessment took place online in 2021-22. QMU’s dramatic rise up the rankings for student satisfaction, which took the university to the verge of the top 20 in our last analysis of the National Student Survey, has gone into reverse in our new guide. It remains in the top 40 for satisfaction with teaching quality (37=), and the top 50 for the wider undergraduate experience (48th).
QMU has also fallen in our research ranking, falling 18 places to 97th, although some world-leading or internationally excellent work was identified in each of the seven research areas included in its submission. Communications, cultural and media studies, speech and language science, and global health and development produced the best results for the impact of their research.
A successful employer mentoring scheme matches third and fourth-year students with professionals who have relevant experience. QMU is aiming to be Scotland’s top modern university for graduate employment, partly by increasing the opportunities for students to take work experience. In our national graduate prospects measure, however, it has fallen nine places to 97th, based on the proportion of graduates in highly skilled work or further study 15 months after leaving. The Business Innovation Zone encourages entrepreneurial and business skills and the university has appointed its first Entrepreneur in Residence, with a particular brief to advance female entrepreneurship.
QMU has 800 residential places and a good range of sports facilities on its campus in the seaside town of Musselburgh, ten minutes by train from the centre of Edinburgh. Its accommodation won the awards for the top booking experience and best student community at the most recent National Student Housing Awards, but new entrants are not guaranteed a place. Priority goes to students from outside the Edinburgh area, as well as those who have disabilities or have been in care.