Good University Guide 2023

Robert Gordon University

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects
Robert Gordon University

Contact details


Garthdee House, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen , AB10 7AQ,

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The close relationship between the university authorities and students at Robert Gordon (RGU) paid off during the pandemic and has produced further dividends since restrictions were lifted. The university, in Aberdeen, is now in the top ten for satisfaction with the quality of teaching and top 20 for the wider graduate experience, according to our analysis of the National Student Survey. With extensive new space for student union activities opening up across three floors of the Georgina Scott Sutherland Centre, the trend may well continue.

An annual partnership agreement with the students identifies a set of objectives to enhance the student experience. Not surprisingly, these have focused recently on RGU’s response to the pandemic and the promotion of mental, physical and social health. A welcome package for new students that emerged from these discussions during the pandemic, involving professional and academic staff as well as students, won a national prize for its longer-term impact. 

RGU was also the first university in the UK to provide Schwartz Rounds for all students, creating a structured forum to discuss the emotional and social aspects of work and study. They are licensed by the Point of Care Foundation and run in more than 130 healthcare organisations.

Despite its excellent satisfaction scores (the best at any of Scotland’s modern universities), RGU has slipped three places in our overall league table. It remains close to the top 20 for entry standards and graduate prospects have improved, but staffing levels have declined and the university has dropped further down our research ranking. The best results in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework came in the Allied Health Professionals category. 

The university has a gold award in the Teaching Excellence Framework, with the panel commenting favourably on the range of opportunities for students to develop knowledge, understanding and skills that are most highly valued by employers. Students were said to engage “consistently and frequently” with developments at the forefront of professional practice. Undergraduates interact with employer partners from early in their studies and, depending upon their degree, will have access to industry projects, placements and insight days.

Six degrees were launched this year, in subjects ranging from digital marketing and business analytics to applied sociology and psychology. There are also seven graduate apprenticeship programmes, mainly in business and engineering. More than 250 businesses and public sector organisations are involved, and the university expects to have more than 700 active students by September 2023.

Entrepreneurial students on all types of course have the opportunity to solve global challenges on a five-month Innovation Accelerator programme. Teams working on innovative projects receive mentoring, city centre office space and access to £2,000 seed funding as part of the programme, which is run in partnership with North East Scotland College and open to staff and alumni. There is an eHub jobs board and a creative entrepreneurship short course for graduates to turn their ideas into a business.  

Although there is a small research presence on Orkney, the Garthdee campus, overlooking the River Dee on the south side of Aberdeen, is the hub of all teaching. A Vibrant Campus Group has been formed to encourage and support activities that inspire people to explore the picturesque riverside location more often. Named after an 18th-century philanthropist, RGU has more than 250 years’ history in education. Its landmark green glass library tower symbolises its future ambitions after a £120 million capital programme. 

On-campus activity has returned fully since the lifting of Covid restrictions, but RGU promises a blend of online and in-person learning that advances education beyond the traditional delivery of content. It intends to move towards “increasingly creative and impactful” use of in-person contact time, carefully balanced with online learning, allowing students to play an active role in their learning and enhancing their capabilities as independent and lifelong learners. 

Full-time undergraduates who come from Scotland’s most deprived postcodes can apply for free accommodation in standard single rooms at RGU’s Woolmanhill flats. There are discounted options elsewhere. Students who have been in care qualify for a 20 per cent accommodation discount in their first year. For everyone else, nearly half of the 912 residential places cost less than £100 a week to rent and there is usually space for all who want a room, although there is no formal guarantee. Another 20 rent-free rooms for students from disadvantaged backgrounds have been added for the new academic year after a donation by Ardmuir, an Aberdeen-based provider of student accommodation. 

Scotland’s third largest city offers a student-friendly atmosphere with excellent transport links. Three gyms, a swimming pool, badminton courts, bouldering and climbing facilities and a sports hall are available on RGU’s campus. All students are entitled to free RGU Sport membership throughout their time at the university.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 65 (62=)
Teaching quality 81.2 10th
Student experience 76 20th
Research quality 20.8 113th
Ucas entry points 156 24th
Graduate prospects 77.6 45th=
Firsts and 2:1s 72.9 100th
Completion rate 85.2 67th=
Student-staff ratio 20.8 116th
World ranking - 801= (801=)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 10,520/2,250
Applications/places ratio 4.7:1
Overall offer rate 61.1%


Places in accommodation 912
Accommodation costs £85 - £162
Accommodation contact


Scots/EU fees £0 - £1,820
Fees (placement year) £910 (RUK £5,150 to 4,500)
Fees (overseas year) ££910, Rest of UK students from £2,575 to £3,375
Fees (international) £14,080 - £17,270
Finance website
Graduate salaries £24,995


Sport points/rank 435.5, 65th
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 12
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 94.9%
Grammar school admissions 0.1%
Independent school admissions 5.1%
Ethnic minority students (all) 10.1%
Black achievement gap -32.8%
First generation students 34.9%
Deprived areas 6.1%
Mature students 38.5%
EU students 9.2%
Other overseas students 4.2%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Art and design 92.2%
Physiotherapy 92.2%
Social work 89.6%
Hospitality, leisure, recreation and tourism 89%
Accounting and finance 87.9%
Building 87.5%
Architecture 85.2%
Business, management and marketing 84.4%
Communication and media studies 82.3%
Radiography 81.4%
Sociology 80%
Archaeology and forensic science 77.7%
Computer science 77.7%
Sports science 77.5%
Biological sciences 77.2%
Law 76.7%
Nursing 76.5%
Mechanical engineering 74.9%
Subjects allied to medicine 73.8%
Pharmacology and pharmacy 72.2%
Electrical and electronic engineering 65.8%