Good University Guide 2023

Ulster University

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects
Ulster University

Contact details


Cromore Road, Coleraine, BT52 1SA,

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Ulster is on the up and up in our league table, having outdone last year’s best-ever performance by ranking higher again in our guide’s latest edition and breaking into the UK top 40. From this term students have access to the full breadth of facilities at Ulster’s newly expanded campus in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. 

The 75,000 sq m development, which has been built to last more than 300 years, began with a phased opening in September 2021 that has completed 12 months on. The project resulted in the closure of most undergraduate provision at the Jordanstown site seven miles outside the city, where a multimillion pound extension to the existing High Performance Sport facility is planned. 

Designed to be a “campus community within a building”, the Belfast site has space for more than 15,500 staff and students (equivalent to the population of Armagh) within its teaching, learning, research and operational facilities, all digitally smart and socially connected. A student-run restaurant and training kitchens feature among the latest openings at the Belfast campus, which cost nearly £400 million and is one of the biggest university capital investments in Europe. 

Ulster welcomed its first graduate entry medicine students in 2021 to the Magee campus in Londonderry. Run in partnership with St George’s, University of London, the four-year MBBS programme is open to graduates from science and non-science backgrounds and is intended to fulfil a shortfall of doctors in Northern Ireland. Specialist facilities for the new medical school have been added. They join provision for other health-related courses at Magee, including a nursing and paramedic skills suite. The School of Health Science has relocated its undergraduate programmes to Magee from Jordanstown — bringing 800 students — and Ulster has readied the path with dedicated teaching, learning and social spaces for the new arrivals.

Ulster was shortlisted for our University of the Year award last year, on the strength especially of its improved rates of student satisfaction, which held up better than most under the pandemic’s challenging conditions. Last year’s positive reviews by its students were not a flash in the pan. In our analysis of the latest National Student Survey, published in summer 2022, Ulster has entered the top 25 for teaching quality (up four places) and retained a top 25 position for the wider experience too, even after losing four places on this measure.  

Helping to drive these high rates of student satisfaction is Ulster’s history of blended learning, the university having included online recordings within every module of its courses for more than 20 years. While an in-person teaching model is the prevalent method, the curriculum is continuing to be informed by relevant and engaging digital content that helps everyone to make the best of use of face-to-face time. 

More than three-quarters of Ulster graduates were in high-skilled work or further study 15 months after finishing their degrees, according to the Graduate Outcomes survey, which positions the university comfortably in the upper half of UK universities.  

Ulster’s degree programmes often feature a work-based learning component. More than 2,000 students annually undertake a professional practice placement or a placement year, and employers are actively engaged in the design and delivery of many courses. The Go Global scheme offers students the chance to study, work or volunteer abroad during their time at Ulster. A Global Mobility team and Study Abroad Tutor network can help to match students to vacancies and academic opportunities abroad.

Thirteen degree apprenticeship programmes are offered within areas such as business technology; computing systems; and accounting and finance. The university expects to have about 600 student apprentices enrolled by September 2023. 

Building on Northern Ireland’s emergence as a leading film and television centre, Ulster opened a £6.5 million media centre in Coleraine on the Atlantic coast five years ago. A recent expansion has added a cinema screening room, virtual production studio with LED screen, green room and edit suite. It has a BBC television studio at its heart, with a multimedia newsroom and editing suites. Courses in the environment, hospitality and communication are also based at the Coleraine campus.

Eighty-seven per cent of Ulster’s research submitted to the 2021 Research Excellence Framework was judged to be either world-leading or internationally excellent, with some of the best results in allied health subjects. Connected by the themes of social renewal, sustainability, healthy communities, and creativity and culture, 97 per cent of the university’s research was assessed as having “outstanding” or “very considerable impacts” in terms of its reach and significance. 

Almost all the undergraduates are from state schools, but the university does not feature in our social inclusion ranking because the education system in Northern Ireland is radically different from the rest of the UK, with selective grammar schools making up a significant proportion of state secondary schools. Our ranking measures recruitment from nonselective state schools, a figure that is unduly depressed at Ulster and Queen’s, Belfast.

The High Performance Sports Centre, which houses the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland, has cameras installed in the sports hall and three outdoor pitches, enabling performance analysis and live-streamed matches. Jordanstown’s outdoor and indoor sprint tracks, sports science and sports medicine facilities remain available to students. The Coleraine and Magee campuses also have sports facilities, and the Belfast site is opening a new gym and studio.

A place in one of the university’s 2,445 rooms in university accommodation is guaranteed for all first-year students who apply by the August 14 deadline. Social scenes vary by campus location, but rumour has it that smaller Coleraine can keep pace with the nightlife of Derry and Belfast.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 38= (44)
Teaching quality 78.2 24th=
Student experience 75.7 23rd
Research quality 47.8 45th
Ucas entry points 128 57th=
Graduate prospects 75.6 53rd
Firsts and 2:1s 80.6 45th
Completion rate 88.2 52nd
Student-staff ratio 20.3 115th
World ranking - 601= (651=)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 30,175/6,315
Applications/places ratio 4.8:1
Overall offer rate 78%


Places in accommodation 2,445
Accommodation costs £88 - £134
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £4,630
Fees (placement year) £2,300
Fees (overseas year) £2,300
Fees (international) £15,360
Fees (international, medical) £37,000
Finance website
Graduate salaries £23,000

Social inclusion and student mix

State schools (non-grammar) admissions 60.6%
Grammar school admissions 39.4%
Independent school admissions 0%
Ethnic minority students (all) 2.3%
First generation students 48.2%
Low participation areas 12.8%
Mature 23.8%
EU students 3.2%
Other overseas students 22.3%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

History 91.2%
Architecture 90.9%
Celtic studies 90.5%
Pharmacology and pharmacy 90.5%
Land and property management 90%
Hospitality, leisure, recreation and tourism 86.4%
Nursing 86.1%
Social work 84.8%
Aeronautical and manufacturing engineering 84.2%
Radiography 84.1%
Music 83.4%
Accounting and finance 83.2%
Geography and environmental science 82.6%
Economics 81.4%
Civil engineering 81%
Drama, dance and cinematics 80.3%
Subjects allied to medicine 79.6%
Food science 79.2%
Communication and media studies 79%
Law 78.4%
Business, management and marketing 78%
Criminology 77.4%
Social policy 77.4%
Sociology 77.4%
Biological sciences 77.2%
Bioengineering and biomedical engineering 76.2%
Sports science 76.2%
Psychology 76.1%
Electrical and electronic engineering 75.9%
English 75.8%
Information systems and management 75.8%
Chemical engineering 75.3%
Art and design 74.6%
Town and country planning and landscape 74.5%
Mechanical engineering 73.2%
Anatomy and physiology 72.6%
Computer science 70.8%
Politics 70.4%
General engineering 69.1%
Physiotherapy 68.8%
Building 66.3%
Linguistics 63.2%