Welcome to the Bay
Swansea University Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard B Davies outlines how there are greater things to come for the institution as its £450m Bay Campus development opens.
After many years of planning and preparation, Swansea University has opened its doors to the £450m Science and Innovation Bay Campus. The Campus has been widely recognised as one of Europe’s leading knowledge economy projects.
Gifted a 40-hectare site by one of the University’s major industrial partners, BP, the ambition and industry-focussed nature of this development has attracted £60m of European Investment Bank funds – the first EIB investment in Wales.
The University’s vision has also received financial support from the Welsh and UK Governments, together with substantial awards from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The Bay Campus will continue the Swansea University tradition of co-location of research and industrial R&D to drive innovation, economic growth, and entrepreneurship in the region. This sharing of facilities will help ensure that world-leading research at Swansea can contribute to industrial success while also generating new challenges and funding opportunities for our researchers. This environment will also benefit students, providing opportunities for “real-world” projects and industrial placements.
The University’s collaborative research links with industry are among the best in the UK. On the Bay Campus, the Engineering Quarter alone will house two new research institutes, allowing for major research collaborations with multi-national companies in materials testing and technology in the energy sector.
Telecommunications billionaire Sir Terry Matthews – an alumnus of the University – is confident that Swansea University and its new Science and Innovation Bay Campus can play a powerful part in driving economic growth and regeneration in the region and beyond.
Sir Terry has said that he would be delighted if Swansea University was known for the best software graduates and the best computer science people, and that the region became known world-wide as “world class” in software, as well as driving graduate entrepreneurship levels. It is a challenge that Swansea is rising to with major facilities for computer science to be included in the next circa £100m phase of the Bay Campus development.
Swansea’s success in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in December 2014 showed the largest climb up the rankings of any research-intensive University in the UK, up to 26th place from 52nd in 2008, delivering world leading and internationally excellent research across all disciplines – Science, Engineering, Medicine, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
REF 2014 measures of impact – that is the difference that research made to the wider world – demonstrated more than 10,000 jobs created and safeguarded; an economic impact of £2.1 billion; and 341 million people engaged by Swansea University’s research.
The University’s outstanding REF performance is central to the stimulating and enriching teaching and student experience provided at Swansea. It is integral to our achievement of the highest 5* QS ranking for teaching excellence, and an NSS student satisfaction score ranking us as joint 8th in the UK.
UK and overseas student numbers have grown considerably, resulting in a vibrant and stimulating student community, with access to some of the best societies and sporting facilities in the UK.
The University’s Employability Academy, Queen’s Award winning Discovery Volunteering centre, and entrepreneurship initiatives – championed by industry leaders – ensures that we develop young people into graduates with the academic and all-round life skills that are demanded by employers. Swansea is now 15th in the UK for the success of our graduates progressing to higher-level study or obtaining professional-level jobs.
This tremendous rate of growth has occurred in an increasingly competitive HE environment. Swansea’s growth over the past 10 years has out-performed not only the HE sector average, but also the Russell Group, in overall income, research income, and UK and overseas student numbers (2003/04 to 2012/13).
To use a sporting analogy – and with a nod to another of our collaborators, Swansea City FC – Swansea has joined the premier league of UK universities.
Richard B Davies