A wide-ranging development programme has revamped UCA’s campuses across Kent and Surrey. The School of Fashion and Textiles at UCA Epsom now has all courses under one roof, with the latest facilities. Graphics and music courses are also based in Epsom.
UCA’s Business School for the Creative Industries is the first of its kind in the country and offers degrees such as event and promotion management, and international buying and merchandising.
A £2 million funding boost from the Office for Students has provided motion capture and virtual reality studios at the new School of Games and Creative Technology, based at UCA Farnham. Teaching and research spaces have also been improved along with IT infrastructure.
More than 2,000 students are based at Farnham, which also hosts courses such as advertising, film production and journalism. UCA Farnham’s £4 million Film and Media Centre consolidates its strong reputation in the industry, and graduates of the university’s film production degree have gone on to work on movies such as the Harry Potter, Mission Impossible as well as Marvel’s Disney+ television spinoff Loki.
As one of only two architecture faculties remaining within a specialist art and design institution, the Canterbury School of Architecture promotes collaboration between student architects, designers and fine artists. On a modern site close to the city centre, the UCA Canterbury campus also hosts degree courses in fine art, interior design, graphic design, and illustration and animation.
The purpose-built UCA Rochester campus — formerly the Medway School of Arts, whose graduates include the fashion designer Dame Zandra Rhodes, the university’s chancellor emirata — will close in September 2023 and its courses will shift to Farnham, Canterbury and Epsom. Karen Millen, the fashion designer, and the jeweller Stephen Webster also studied at Rochester, which has hosted further education and postgraduate programmes. Some undergraduate television production classes were held there, although most were already mainly based at Maidstone TV Studios, the largest independent studio complex in the UK.
Student satisfaction held up during the pandemic at UCA better than it did at many institutions — especially those with a predominance of practical courses — and the university was third in our analysis of the impact of Covid-19 from 2020-21. The latest results of the National Student Survey show a rise of five places to 33= for satisfaction with teaching quality. In-person lectures, studio and workshop sessions have returned in full for the 2022-23 academic year. Satisfaction with the wider undergraduate experience has improved slightly to 103=.
UCA launched the Institute of Creativity and Innovation in southeastern China in 2020, in partnership with Xiamen University. It offers undergraduate programmes in digital media technology, visual communication design, advertising, and environmental design. Closer to home, those on the Royal School of Needlework’s hand embroidery degree, which is accredited by UCA, are based in apartments designed by Sir Christopher Wren at Hampton Court Palace, with views of the Privy Garden and River Thames.
The UCA undergraduate curriculum is expanding. Six new degrees — including interior architecture, visual communications and comic and concept art — welcomed their first students in September 2022. Another 14 courses are on the way in 2023-24 including computer science, music and sound production, architectural technology, and user experience design.
The university achieved a gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework, reflecting its outstanding levels of stretch for students, driving them to achieve their full potential. Assessors also hailed “significant contact with employers that frequently engages students in developments from the forefront of professional practice”.
A concerted effort to boost graduate employability is behind UCA’s recent guarantee of work placements for all undergraduates, lasting from a fortnight up to a year. Universities serving the creative industries have struggled in our analysis of graduate prospects and UCA has been at the bottom of all three Graduate Outcomes surveys to date. In our analysis of the latest results, the university records a slight improvement of one percentage point, with 52.2 per cent of graduates in highly skilled jobs or postgraduate study 15 months after leaving UCA.
The university’s dropout rate is lower than expected, given its course profile and the background of its student intake.
New student halls of residence at the Farnham campus bring the number of bed spaces to 1,190 and the university makes an accommodation guarantee to all first-years. There are no sports facilities, but the students’ union operates a variety of clubs including cheerleading, football and rugby.