The university does well to feature in the top 30 for student satisfaction with teaching quality, although this represents a 15-place decline year-on-year that is among the factors that have caused the university to fall outside our league table’s top 100 this year.
UWTSD offers both in-person and distance learning degrees, as well as some that can be studied via either method of delivery, in line with its accent on ensuring access for all students. Most in-person programmes also include elements of blended learning. UWTSD was one of six Welsh universities to enter the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2017. An initial bronze rating that year was upgraded to silver in 2019, with the panel praising “optimal” contact time, leading to outstanding personalised provision. The panel also approved of UWTSD’s strong sense of regional and civic mission.
While Lampeter is the home of humanities courses, the Carmarthen site (established in 1848 to train teachers) offers programmes in the creative and performing arts, as well as a growing portfolio within the school of sport, health and outdoor education. A mile from the campus, the university has a refurbished centre for outdoor education on the Wales Coast Path at Cynefin, which offers direct access on to the River Towy as well as its own bushcraft, campsite and bike track.
The original Swansea campus began as a college of art, but its automotive engineering courses — especially those focused on motorsport — have become its best-known. Automotive engineering students work as part of a race team involved in UK motorsport events, using an on-campus simulator for big data analysis that feeds back into the design of the vehicle for further on-track testing. The university has good links with Aston Martin, Jaguar Land Rover and McLaren Automotive.
The Construction Wales Innovation Centre is another feature of the Swansea campus. Home to construction course undergraduates, it provides laser measurement and surveying equipment for hands-on learning, offering students the use of cutting-edge technologies, including virtual reality construction applications and the drones used in construction environments.
New at Swansea will be the Innovation Matrix, an addition to the SA1 Swansea Waterfront Innovation Quarter which is due to be completed in time for the start of the 2023 academic year. The low-carbon building is designed to provide a platform for UWTSD’s collaboration with businesses and entrepreneurs to boost Wales’ digital economy.
New degrees are broadening the curriculum, in subjects including: digital media production; cruise ship management; and human resource management. After four years of declining admissions numbers the university had noted an increase in applications of about 15 per cent in 2022 at the end of May, compared with the same point in the cycle the year before.
UWTSD had more than 1,200 degree apprentices on 16 programmes, at last count, across fields that include engineering, policing and ordnance, munitions and explosives. The university expects 1,400 degree apprentices by September 2023.
The increasing earn-while-you-learn student numbers may stimulate employment rates in future. For now, however, UWTSD’s graduate prospects remain rooted to the lower reaches of our ranking, with UWTSD among the bottom ten universities, with 62.6 per cent of graduates in high-skilled jobs or postgraduate study 15 months on from their degrees. This is in spite of opportunities to gain professional qualifications, work placements and internships with partner organisations such as Jaguar Land Rover, South Wales Police, H&M and Keir.
There was better news for the university when the 2021 Research Excellence Framework published its results this year. An improved performance has prompted a 13-place rise in our research quality index, where UWTSD now sits only just outside the top 100. Art and design; education; Celtic languages and literature; theology; and psychology produced some of the best results.
Having broken into the top ten of our social inclusion ranking last year, UWTSD drops to 14th in England and Wales this year. Almost all (97.8 per cent) of its students attended a nonselective state school (the sixth-highest proportion). Twelve per cent of students have a registered disability and nearly three-quarters are aged over-21 — only four universities have more mature students.
Sports facilities are available at the Carmarthen, Lampeter and Swansea campuses, offering plenty of indoor and outdoor facilities. A 40ft climbing wall at Carmarthen is a good place to practice before students scale the nearby crags of Pembrokeshire — or leap off them, coasteering-style — into the Irish Sea.
Accommodation is split between Carmarthen (288 spaces), Lampeter (260 spaces) and Swansea (80 spaces) and the university is “committed to offering 100 per cent of first-year full-time undergraduates a place in accommodation” it tells us.