Established in 1881 on the principles of “the advancement of learning and ennoblement of life”, Liverpool’s original Victoria Building inspired the “redbrick university” term. The city campus at the top of Brownlow Hill and Mount Pleasant is about five minutes on foot from the city centre, while students of the School of Veterinary Science also have a base at the Leahurst campus on the Wirral Peninsula — near the university’s 64-acre Ness Botanic Gardens.
Investment in the city-centre campus has created developments including the DIF (Digital Innovation Factory), a 1,530 sq m building on the north side of the campus. Bringing together computer science, robotics and engineering research within a centre of excellence in simulation and virtual reality, the university forecasts that the DIF will create about 400 jobs over a decade and boost the region’s economy by £44.5 million.
The Tung auditorium, Liverpool’s new teaching and performance centre, opened in 2021 within the Yoko Ono Lennon Centre, housing a 400-seat auditorium with space for a 70-piece orchestra. A concert hall as well as a teaching facility, it draws on the city’s arts heritage — providing space for concerts, lectures and exhibitions.
Extending its global opportunities, Liverpool offers the option for students to spend an academic year studying at one if its 26 partner universities around the world — from Austria to America — on the majority of courses. Unusually, the opportunity to go abroad is available in any year of study. The university also has a campus in the Chinese city of Suzhou, run in partnership with Xi’an Jiaotong University, and offers joint courses with the Singapore Institute of Technology.
Liverpool was upgraded from bronze to silver in the Teaching Excellence Framework. Having been one of the better-performing Russell Group universities in terms of student satisfaction before and during the pandemic, outcomes of the latest National Student Survey (NSS), published in summer 202,2 revealed steep declines. Liverpool has fallen back in both of our NSS-derived measures, falling from joint 51st for student satisfaction with teaching quality in 2021 (and joint 62nd the year before) to 114th. For sections of the NSS relating to the wider undergraduate experience our analysis shows a 63-place year-on-year drop to 100=.
All teaching had returned to in-person delivery by the start of the 2022-23 academic year, which should help to lift rates of student satisfaction to their former levels.
A third successive year-on-year rise in the numbers of new students starting courses brought them to record levels in the 2021 admissions cycle. The curriculum continues to expand. After the introduction of a suite of design engineering courses; climate science; and environmental geoscience in 2022, Liverpool is launching another seven degrees, in communication, media and politics; English literature with drama studies; English with world literature; media and culture; media, data and society; and screen industries and entertainment. All life science disciplines are gaining new integrated master’s programmes.
In our annual social inclusion index Liverpool’s strongest performance comes in recruitment of white working-class male students, the most underrepresented group (4.6 per cent) and of students from areas with low participation in higher education (9.1 per cent). In common with most of its Russell Group peers, however, Liverpool is near the bottom of our overal social inclusion ranking at 100=.
Long-term engagement with local disadvantaged schools and colleges underpins the university’s widening participation agenda. The two-year Liverpool Scholars programme boosts students’ academic skills and builds a sense of belonging. Passing it entitles scholars to an offer reduced by up to two A-level grades, or equivalent, for entry to an undergraduate course. The FastTrackers mentoring scheme for local Somali and Yemeni students was highlighted by the Office for Students for its good practice. A contextual offers scheme (benefiting those who meet widening participation criteria) accounted for more than 10 per cent of admissions in 2021, which Liverpool expects will rise to 15 per cent in 2023.
About a third of UK undergraduates receive Liverpool bursaries, worth £750 or £2,000 per year, depending on household incomes beneath a ceiling of £35,000. An £800 housing discount for those who receive the Liverpool bursary or other bursaries is a rare scheme among UK universities. It equates to about a quarter of students living in halls of residence receiving the saving, at a cost of about £920,000 to the university each year. Accommodation is guaranteed to first-years.
Industry partnerships include close links with AstraZeneca, HSBC, IBM, the Civil Service Fast Stream and CISCO. Employer-connected events and experiences are designed to help students to develop networks for their future careers. An interns programme and graduate scheme offers exclusive paid internships, placements and graduate opportunities offered by employers in the Liverpool City Region.
Graduate prospects for Liverpool students are in the top 40, measured by the proportion in highly skilled work or postgraduate study 15 months after finishing a degree.
The university has been investing significantly in its campus sport and fitness offering to enhance the free-to-use facilities. Students now have access to a half basketball court, 100m running track, campus running route, container gym and calisthenics gym. These join pre-existing facilities that include a swimming pool, two sports halls, a squash course, a bouldering wall and spin studios. Off campus at the Wyncote Sports Ground, the university has ten pitches for football and rugby, one for lacrosse, a floodlit all-weather pitch and 3G rugby facilities.
When it comes to student life, Liverpool goes above and beyond. Renowned as one of the UK’s friendliest cities, it combines a booming and varied nightlife with relative affordability.