Three-year degrees are also offered in the humanities at Buckingham, and other faculties are beginning to follow suit, although the two-year option is the norm.
The leafy main campus has the River Ouse running through it and some historic buildings, such as a former friary and military barracks, are used as academic facilities.
A second campus opened in 2020 in Crewe, 120 miles from Buckingham, after the university took over the former Manchester Metropolitan University campus there in a joint venture with the Indian private healthcare company Apollo Hospitals. Crewe offers medicine and podiatry courses and hopes to add other medical and allied health degrees in future.
Buckingham’s finances took a hit over the Crew venture, reporting a £17 million deficit in 2019, but have since recovered. Student numbers remain buoyant, in spite of a dip from European Union applicants post-Brexit, and new enrolments increased year-on-year in the 2021 admissions round. Buckingham’s medical school is a popular choice for home and overseas students. Medical students finish their courses in a shorter time than they would elsewhere with a 4½-year MBChB — modelled on the one offered by the University of Leicester.
The university’s School of Computing has opened an Artificial Intelligence and Innovation Centre as the first phase of a £3.2 million investment. There are new computer suites and specialist equipment such as Birdly, an immersive virtual reality flying machine that simulates soaring over landscapes and cities around the world. Students also plan projects using Spot, a robotic dog. Academics are working with outside organisations to find potential uses for Spot, including deployment in smoke-filled or radioactive areas or structurally unsafe buildings.
The student refectory at the Buckingham campus has been extensively refurbished with the addition of extra social learning space. The university has had an excellent track record in our student satisfaction rankings over the years, derived from the National Student Survey, but has nosedived 45 places year-on-year for satisfaction with teaching in the latest analysis. For teaching quality it ranks 60=, down from 15th last year, and it is 74= for the overall undergraduate experience, down from 29th.
Every Buckingham student has regular meetings with a personal tutor. As well as academic support and guidance, personal tutors direct students to support they may need with mental health or other issues. One-to-one appointments with staff in the university’s wellbeing, skills and diversity team are always available. Buckingham achieved a gold rating in the government’s latest Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2017. The panel praised personalised learning as a result of teaching in small groups. Buckingham’s rigorous monitoring of attendance was also commended, making for the best rates of retention, attainment and progression. Physical and digital resources were outstanding, the TEF panel noted, with one-to-one IT support when needed and extensive access to online journals.
Sixth for graduate outcomes in 2021, Buckingham has fallen to 33= in our analysis of the proportion of graduates in highly skilled work or further study 15 months after finishing their degree.
Students can complete a number of Microsoft certifications for free to help them prepare for the workplace. Work experience opportunities are extensive: law students can shadow legal roles in law firms, barrister’s chambers and in court. An initiative run jointly with the Home Office allows law students to opt for a one-year paid work placement.
B Enterprising, a scheme offered by the university’s careers and employability service, places students of any discipline in start-ups and small businesses for paid experience that they can undertake alongside their studies.
With four in ten UK-domiciled recruits drawn from ethnic minorities and nearly four in ten mature students (aged over 21 on entry), Buckingham scores well in some of our social inclusion measures. However, it continues to have the lowest proportion (0.9 per cent) of white working-class male students (the most underrepresented group in higher education) of any university. Overall, it is 111th for social inclusion.
Buckingham has 91 degree apprentices on two programmes: digital and technology solutions, and teaching (level 6). New level 7 degree apprenticeships for senior leaders and sustainability business specialists will begin in 2023.
Students from the UK and Ireland who achieve AAB or better in their A-levels (or equivalent qualifications) automatically get high-achiever scholarships of £2,000 – providing they make Buckingham their firm choice or accept an offer. The scholarship is not available for medical students. The university discounts tuition fees by £2,500 for international students who progress from one of its foundation courses to undergraduate degrees.
The main campus has a bar and fitness facilities, and events are hosted at the nearby Radcliffe Centre. The halls of residence on campus provide enough space for all first-years who want to live in. Buckingham’s pretty and rural environs provide calm: those in search of bright city lights will need to explore further afield.