Queen Mary joined the elite Russell Group of research-intensive universities in 2012 and is its most socially inclusive member, according to our analysis. Its strong record for recruiting students from underrepresented groups made QMUL runner-up for our University of the Year award in 2020.
More than three quarters of QMUL students (77 per cent) are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds: only four UK universities have a higher proportion. The university’s black achievement gap is among the five narrowest (best) in the country. With 46.1 per cent of students who are the first in their family to go to university, QMUL is well within the upper half of universities on this measure.
Graduate prospects are just outside the top 50 (52nd) in our analysis of the Graduate Outcomes survey, based on the proportion of students who are in highly skilled work or further study 15 months after finishing their degree. Most QMUL undergraduates are taught and housed on the self-contained campus in Mile End. Its large medical school, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, is based in Whitechapel. Facilities have benefited from £100 million of investment in recent years.
An £18 million project at the School of Mathematical Sciences has provided seminar and workshop teaching rooms and a new lecture theatre. Study spaces designed for private and group work have been built into the facility, with a 42-computer IT lab and a social hub.
The university has spent £30 million remodelling undergraduate teaching space at the School of Engineering and Materials Science, building a creative hub with specialist equipment that includes bench areas, machine and craft tools, 3D printers and spray booths.
QMUL has also developed a graduate centre and new dental school, and added the Neuron Pod, an extension of the award-winning Centre of the Cell science education centre. The art deco People’s Palace, built to bring culture, entertainment and education to Victorian-era Eastenders, has been restored to host events.
The university was rated silver in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), impressing assessors with the quality of its coaching programmes, mentoring schemes and employer engagement programmes, which help students to find good jobs. The QMUL Model accounts for 10 per cent of a student’s degree, covering work experience, volunteering in the community, overseas travel, project work with local businesses and other organisations, learning a language, or taking modules from other subjects.
Post-pandemic feedback has been used to refine QMUL’s learning approach — active curriculum for excellence (ACE) — in light of which elements of remote learning worked best for students. ACE comprises five components: student-paced learning activities, interactive large group sessions, “learning by doing” sessions, small active groups, and co-curricular activities. All students on London-based programmes have had timetabled in-person activities since September 2022.
ACE may help to turn around the disappointing rates of satisfaction expressed by QMUL students in the latest National Student Survey, published in summer 2022. The university has lost ground in student satisfaction with teaching quality (falling from 102= to 117th) and the wider experience (70= in 2021 and 107th in 2022).
Student numbers are continuing to rise at QMUL, following another record year for applications and enrolments in 2021. Degrees in digital and technology solutions (data analyst), and accountancy (Flying Start) began in September 2022, while the option of a year in industry has been added to a range of established degrees. A programme in business management (social change) will be available in 2023-24.
QMUL is adding four degree apprenticeship programmes — in systems engineering, financial services, investment operations, and physician associate — to the five that already have 583 students enrolled. Degree apprentice numbers are expected to increase by 150-200 in 2023.
About half of undergraduates tend to receive financial help from the university, such as the means-tested Queen Mary University of London Bursary, worth up to £1,700 per year, and a range of merit-based academic awards. The undergraduate scholarship programme helps local students from households with incomes up to £42,875 and there is financial and pastoral support for students from forced migrant backgrounds.
Initiatives to widen participation in higher education are well established. About a quarter of admissions in 2021 received a contextual offer, usually of a one- or two-grade reduction.
QMUL students can use the sports facilities at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, including the Copper Box indoor arena and the Aquatic Centre’s swimming pool. QMUL has sports grounds at Chislehurst, southeast London, for football, rugby, lacrosse, American football and cricket. The Mile End campus has a refurbished students’ union and a subsidised health and fitness centre.
Drapers Bar and Kitchen offers an on-campus social hub while some of the capital’s most fashionable east London enclaves are on the doorstep. Accommodation is guaranteed to first-years who apply by June 30.