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University of Plymouth
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University of Plymouth

Motto Indagate Fingite Invenite (Explore, Dream, Discover)

Established 1992, from Polytechnic South West

Staff 3,000
Students 30,540[2]

Drake Circus
PL4 8AA Plymouth, England

The University of Plymouth is the largest university in the southwest of England, with over 30,000 students and is the fifth largest UK university based on student population. (Larger universities are Open, London, Manchester, and Manchester Metropolitan in order of largest to smallest). It has almost 3,000 staff (one of the largest employers in the southwest).

The University

Plymouth is a modern university that has undergone a great deal of development, including several new buildings. On the basis of the results of the 2008 RAE Plymouth has leapt 15 places to join the top 50 universities, showing the greatest improvement in the UK in research performance since the last RAE, in 2001. The university jumped 33 places in The Guardian’s national university league tables published in May 2006, from 73rd place in 2005 to 40th place in 2006. It is settled at 35th place in the 2007 publication; The Times table, which unlike The Guardian takes research performance into account, places it 55th and bills it as one of the top two modern universities in the UK. The Guardian describes the University as “forward thinking”, as well as placing Plymouth in the “top 20″ for ten subjects including social work (5th), architecture, fine art and drama. In conjunction with the current restructuring, the university’s aim is to become the enterprise university, pivotal in a city acknowledged as the enterprise capital of the south west.

Professor Roland Levinsky was the University’s vice-chancellor (VC) up until his death on 1 January 2007, when he walked into live electrical cables brought down during a storm. He was temporarily replaced by Professor Mark Cleary (now VC of the University of Bradford), and then by Professor Steve Newstead. Professor Wendy Purcell became VC on 1 December 2007.


The university was originally a Polytechnic College, with its constituent bodies being Plymouth Polytechnic, Rolle College, the Exeter School of Art and Design (all three of which were, before April 1989, branches of Devon County Council and Seale-Hayne College (which before April 1989 was an independent charity). It was renamed (unpopularly [citation needed]) Polytechnic South West in 1989 and remained as this until gaining university status in 1992 along with the other polytechnics. The new university absorbed the Plymouth School of Maritime Studies and Tavistock College.

Faculty of Arts

This faculty is host to the School of Architecture, Design and Environment, School of Art & Media and the School of Humanities and Performing Arts. Arts subjects are usually held in the Roland Levinsky building and the Scott building, a 19th Century building located next to Roland Levinsky which was modernized externally in 2008 to keep to the university’s current design. The faculty offers degrees in Architecture, English, History, Art History, 3D Design 3D Design’s own website, Music, Photography, Media Arts and Dance Theatre. Advanced research in new media art is provided by the Planetary Collegium.


Mathew Emmett

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