Annual review 2014/15

Professor David Coslett - Interim Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive


This review charts the progress and development that we have made here at Plymouth University – thanks to our staff, our students, our alumni, our partners… our people.

The year has not been without its challenges, both from within the sector and beyond. The important thing is how you respond to challenge, how you adapt and move forward. And move forward we have.

Perhaps the defining theme for the year has been our strong focus upon the core activities of the University: teaching excellence and high-quality research. It is these that are both the pillars and lifeblood of academic institutions.

Of course, we have also given great focus to those activities that support these endeavours. These include new state-of-the-art facilities to support teaching, research and student wellbeing; a digital learning environment that crosses the boundaries of our campus; and a programme of curriculum enrichment that is transforming our student learning experience.

These changes are all designed to enable our people to flourish and focus on what they do best – teaching, learning, researching, questioning and collaborating – as you will see from the abundance of examples included within this annual review.

James Brent - Chairman of the Board of Governors


At a glance

It has been a busy year at Plymouth University. Here are some of the many highlights:

August 2014 - BRAIN TUMOUR RESEARCH becomes an official charity partner of the University, shortly before Plymouth is recognised as a
Centre of Excellence for research into lowgrade brain tumours. 

September - QUEEN DRUMMER Roger Taylor, cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber, chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and dancer Wayne Sleep are among a
cast of thousands at graduation 2014.

October - THE PIONEERING CUMBERLAND GP PRACTICE, the first to be run jointly between a university and an NHS primary care provider, celebrates a major milestone when its 1,000th patient registers.

November - THE CURTAIN RISES on the University’s £7 million performing arts centre, The House, opened by acclaimed choreographer Russell Maliphant.

December - NEARLY TWO-THIRDS of the University’s research is graded as world-leading or internationally excellent in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

January 2015 - TOPPING THE PEOPLE & PLANET GREEN LEAGUE for the second time, Plymouth is ranked the most sustainable university in the country.

February - PLANS ARE CONFIRMED to redevelop the Plymouth Science Park, a hub for high-growth IT and digital businesses, creating 190 skilled jobs for the city.

March - THE UNIVERSITY OUTREACH TEAM welcomes around 1,000 visitors aged 6–12 to the University as part of British Science Week. The young people explore the latest research and learn about ‘pyromania’ chemistry, marine ecosystems, robotics and engineering.

April - THE UNIVERSITY ACHIEVES its highest ranking yet in the Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 league table – placing 37th in the world and fourth highest in the UK of those institutions under the age of 50.

May - UNIVERSITY SCIENTISTS are at the centre of two major biological discoveries, with Dr Robert Puschendorf among a team that discovered a new species of glass frog in Costa Rica, and Dr David Bilton, Reader in Aquatic Biology, identifying a new species of diving beetle in South Africa.

June - MORE THAN 5,000 PEOPLE flock to the campus for the Big Festival Weekend. The occasion offers a huge range of events and activities, and also incorporates the Plymouth Respect Festival and HOT ’15 arts degree show.

July - SENIOR FIGURES from the South African government visit the campus to meet University leaders and academics across science, engineering and business sectors and discuss potential collaboration opportunities.

Everything you need to know

  • A 27,000 students, 2,900 staff
  • * £234 million annual turnover
  • > £24 million contracting with local businesses
  • < Oversees a £100m regional network of business support facilities – incubation, innovation, science park infrastructure
  • S Key partner in the South West Peninsula City Deal – potential to create 10,000 jobs
  • @ The first university to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark
  • ( 1862 founded as a School of Navigation - 2015 the UK’s 15th largest university
  • < 80 partnerships in more than 30 countries
  • A 13,000 off-campus students enrolled on Plymouth courses
  • ' £155 million invested in the campus over the past eight years, including the Marine Station, The House and Wellbeing Centre
  • @ The first and only post-1992 university to launch its own medical and dental schools
  • 4 58% of academic staff are PhD qualified
  • < 2/3 of Plymouth’s research was ranked as either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • ) TWICE WINNER The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, most recently in 2012, for marine and maritime expertise
  • , REF #1 nationally, for clinical medicine research output
  • G Top 100 globally... and 19th in the UK – 2015 CWTS Leiden Rankings for the quality and influence of Plymouth University’s research – rankings measuring scientific impact and involvement in scientific collaboration
  • 6 TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION 2014 RANKINGS: 278th overall, 35th in the UK
  • 6 TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION, 2015 TOP 100 UNDER 50: 37th overall, 4th in the UK
  • " National lead for The Social Enterprise University Enterprise Network
  • @ TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION UNIVERSITY AWARDS 2014 - WINNER – outstanding employer engagement initiative and shortlisted three times for entrepreneurial university of the year
  • H GUARDIAN UNIVERSITY AWARDS - Twice winner, in 2015 for Social and Community Impact, in 2013 for student experience
  • , OTHER AWARDS ISO 14001 accreditation, Fairtrade University status, four Green Gown Awards from 2011 to 2015
  • 3 20 national teaching fellowships in higher education since 2000