Good University Guide 2023

University of South Wales

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects
University of South Wales

Contact details


1 Lantwit Road, Treforest, Pontypridd, CF37 1DL,

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Hands-on teaching facilities at the University of South Wales (USW) mean that students starting in 2022-23 can make the most of an in-person, on-campus experience. Lecture-capture technology allows students some flexibility too, which supports the many who balance work and/or caring responsibilities with their studies. The approach meets the approval of students, by and large, as evidenced by student satisfaction with teaching quality USW is comfortably in the top half of universities nationally.

The wider undergraduate experience received less positive reviews than teaching quality in the latest National Student Survey however, and USW loses 14 places in our analysis of this measure.USW — formed by a merger between Glamorgan and Newport universities — has two campuses in Pontypridd, Treforest and Glyntaff. The Pontypridd sites are the focus of developments for chiropractic students, who now have use of a new teaching and learning hub and will soon gain a new clinic. These join a £6 million Learning Resource Centre, acute care simulation suites for nursing and midwifery students, upgraded laboratories and a law school.

USW’s Cardiff campus in the city centre is home to its creative industries courses — which benefit from industry-standard equipment for advertising, television and film set design, and fashion — as well as dance studios, rehearsal spaces and photographic studios. Cardiff is also the base for Startup Stiwdio, an incubation space. Operations moved from the Caerleon campus outside Newport to the Newport City Campus in 2011, where courses include cybersecurity, education, and psychology. 

USW’s first aerospace engineering students begin their courses in the 2022-23 term, as do those on new degrees in biomedical sciences; operating department practice; music producing; and an accelerated professional policing course. The new perfformio, theatre a’r cyfryngau degree (performance, theatre and the media) is taught entirely in Welsh.

An improved performance in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, compared with the 2014 exercise, has triggered a nine-place rise for USW in our research quality ranking. Sport and exercise sciences; social work and social policy; music, drama, dance, performing arts, film and screen studies; and allied health subjects produced some of the university’s best results. As with many universities in Wales, USW has not entered the Teaching Excellence Framework.

A Personal Academic Coaching scheme provides students with support through a series of conversations with a dedicated coach regarding their overall academic and professional progress. Such provision may improve completion rates at USW, which are among the bottom third nationally at present, with the latest figures showing that more students are projected to drop out of their course than the benchmark rate based on the academic and social mix.

The university offers eight degree apprenticeship programmes in Wales: including cybersecurity; data science; and mechanical, manufacturing, electrical and electronic engineering. A police constable degree apprenticeship operates in England.

The proportion of mature students aged over-21 is approaching four in ten and 95.9 per cent of USW undergraduates went to nonselective state secondary schools, evidence of USW’s effective outreach activities. It ranks 33= overall for social inclusion. Degrees in music producing, applied engineering, biomedical science and sport and exercise science welcomed their first students this term. Applications declined for the seventh consecutive year in 2020, as have the number of students starting courses — though less sharply. Maintaining entry standards, South Wales still turns down about three in ten applications.

Partnerships with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), Football Association of Wales Trust and BBC Wales as well as close relationships with police forces across England and Wales, the Celtic Manor Resort and Health Education Improvement Wales are among tie-ins that boost experience and opportunities for USW students. In other initiatives, cybersecurity students engage in live projects with real companies while courses within USW’s School of Engineering benefit from industrial advisory boards, which inform course development and provide opportunities for work experience and future employment. 

However, for graduate prospects USW falls outside the top 100 this year, to rank 108=. Only two thirds of students are employed in high-skilled work or further study 15 months on from their degree, the latest Graduate Outcomes survey found.

USW succeeds in recruiting the ninth highest proportion of students from deprived areas in England and Wales, and more than four in ten are aged over 21 when they enrol on their degree. Contextual offers were introduced for 2022 entry, which should help widen participation further still. Financial supports include a diagnostic assessment bursary — which may provide free internal dyslexia screening to some students.

Welsh-medium scholarships are available to students who study at least 40 credits of an eligible degree in Welsh. A £500 progression bursary rewards those who top-up an USW-accredited HND or foundation degree to one of its full-time honours courses.

First-years are guaranteed a room in halls of residence, which are located at each of the university’s campuses. Surrounded by coast and countryside all USW sites are near, or in, the buzzing student city of Cardiff, one of the UK’s best places for undergraduate life. 

The purpose-built USW Sport Park has a 3G pitch and 270-seat stand used by student teams as well as Pontypridd FC. The Sport Park includes specialist equipment for sports degree studies and a centre for strength and conditioning with 12 lifting platforms and a full-size 3G indoor football pitch, the only one in Wales and one of five in the UK. Laboratories at the Glyntaff campus provide a scientific background for sports degrees.

Surrounded by coast and countryside, all USW sites are either within striking distance of – or in – Cardiff, renowned as one of the UK’s leading student city.  First-years are guaranteed a room in halls of residence based as closely as possible on the preferences they provide in their housing application.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 103 (99)
Teaching quality 75.8 54th=
Student experience 69.6 92nd=
Research quality 27.5 95th
Ucas entry points 119 86th=
Graduate prospects 66.5 108th=
Firsts and 2:1s 72.3 105th
Completion rate 81.7 93rd
Student-staff ratio 16.1 62nd=

Vital statistics











Applications/places 11,130/2,555
Applications/places ratio 4.4:1
Overall offer rate 77.8%


Places in accommodation 1,372
Accommodation costs £94 - £180
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,000
Fees (placement year) £1,000
Fees (overseas year) £1,350
Fees (international) £11,200 - £12,500
Finance website
Graduate salaries £22,000


Sport points/rank 350.5, 71st
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 33=
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 95.9%
Grammar school admissions 1.3%
Independent school admissions 2.7%
Ethnic minority students (all) 10.4%
Black achievement gap -25.5%
White working class males 6.8%
First generation students 42.9%
Low participation areas 22.6%
Mature 42.8%
EU students 3.7%
Other overseas students 6.1%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

History 92.8%
Art and design 88%
Mathematics 87.7%
Business, management and marketing 85.1%
Sports science 83.4%
Education 82.8%
Accounting and finance 82.5%
Computer science 82.2%
Social work 82%
Information systems and management 81.3%
Biological sciences 79.8%
Music 78%
Communication and media studies 77.8%
Drama, dance and cinematics 75.1%
Law 74.9%
Psychology 74.8%
Aeronautical and manufacturing engineering 73.6%
Geography and environmental science 72.2%
Archaeology and forensic science 71.6%
Subjects allied to medicine 68.3%
Electrical and electronic engineering 68.2%
Nursing 66%
Social policy 61.2%
Criminology 60.9%
Sociology 60.9%