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National support for Arts University Plymouth

Arts University Plymouth formally recognised as the UK’s newest arts university

Founded in 1856, Plymouth College of Art has been granted full university status and formally recognised with the new title of Arts University Plymouth following approval by the Privy Council, becoming the city of Plymouth’s specialist arts university.

Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan said: “As a government, we are committed to supporting and recognising the value of creative providers which is why I am delighted to announce that Plymouth College of Art has been granted full university status. This recognition is fully deserved and an historical moment for the city of Plymouth.

“With this new status, I am confident that Arts University Plymouth will continue to help make dreams come true and equip graduates for a career in the creative industries whilst providing a blueprint for success to other creative providers.”

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Arts University Plymouth

Richard Bingley, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “I'm absolutely thrilled for Arts University Plymouth’s excellent staff and talented, hard-working, body of students. Moreover, from a Council and city perspective, to now have three Universities located within our Ocean City fills me with enormous pride and a real sense of practical optimism for the future.

“The central objective of our new administration is to deliver higher-value jobs for Plymouth. Hosting three Universities within our city means that we can clearly demonstrate an innovative and broadening skills base here. This is a clear benefit to existing employers looking to upscale, as well as potential investors into our city.”

Hannah Harris, CEO of Plymouth Culture said, "Being awarded university title is not only testament to the high quality and hard work of Arts University Plymouth, but it's exciting news for the city. It helps to add to our desire to establish Plymouth as a magnet city, attracting and retaining the best creative talent. We have seen other cities like Liverpool, Leeds and Bristol thrive through investment in culture. AUP is an important milestone in unlocking endless opportunities for students and businesses, and is very much aligned with the strategic ambitions of the city."

Dave Clemow, Head of Media and Film Studies at Ivybridge Community College, said: "This is incredibly exciting news for the South West. A lot of Ivybridge Community College students look seriously at careers in the creative industries and I think that having a dedicated arts university within commuting distance will encourage more students to stay in the region for Higher Education. We've enjoyed a fantastic relationship with Plymouth College of Art in the past and hope to continue this tradition with Arts University Plymouth."

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Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Arts University Plymouth

With 166 years of history in the city, the move to become Arts University Plymouth comes after the institution, which has delivered Higher Education for over 20 years, received Taught Degree Awarding Powers in 2019.

Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Arts University Plymouth, said: “Achieving full university status is just our latest evolution in over 160 years of leading specialist arts education in the South West and internationally. This exciting news recognises the quality of the work already taking place in partnership with our undergraduate and postgraduate students and is testament to the dedication of our staff, and the ambition of our Governing body. Their tireless work has enabled us to demonstrate the value of arts education to students, to the UK economy and to a world that needs creatives now more than ever.

“Our vision for Arts University Plymouth is a new kind of art school for the 21st century, preparing graduates who are uniquely placed to provide creative solutions to the complex problems faced by modern society, spanning everything from the acceleration of new technologies to the global challenges facing healthcare, sustainability and the climate emergency.

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“This is also another key moment in the development of Plymouth and a reflection on the hard work of partners across Britain’s Ocean City, including Plymouth City Council’s commitment to unlocking the city’s potential and creating an exciting, cultural and creative place for people to live and work. Research by Plymouth Culture indicates that more than £50-million has been invested in arts and culture in Plymouth from outside funders in the past five years, one million people attend events organised by creative and cultural organisations in Plymouth each year, and culture is worth more than £98 million to the city annually. From the opening of The Box, Plymouth’s flagship cultural destination, and Market Hall, featuring a 360° immersive dome that is the first of its kind in Europe, to playing host this year to British Art Show 9, the UK’s biggest touring art exhibition, there can be no doubt that Plymouth is a leading UK city for contemporary visual arts. The time is right for Arts University Plymouth to take its place as the city’s first specialist arts university.”

Victoria Pomery OBE, CEO at The Box, said: “I’m delighted that our near neighbours have achieved university status. This is wonderful news for Plymouth, a city that embraces and celebrates the power of the arts and creativity. We’ve partnered with colleagues at Plymouth College of Art on a regular basis in the past and now look forward to working with the Arts University Plymouth in the future.”

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Lady Frances Sorrell OBE, Co-Chair of the Sorrell Foundation, British designer and an Honorary Fellow of Arts University Plymouth, said: “There’s a very special spirit of creativity and community that can be found within Arts University Plymouth. The move to formally become a university is well-deserved recognition of the pioneering work that has been undertaken by so many of the team there, but especially former Principal and Professor Emeritus Andrew Brewerton, who initiated this process.

“We first began working with Arts University Plymouth in 2009, as one of the four founding National Art & Design Saturday Clubs, and we’re delighted to still be working together. Plymouth is a special place and we’ve met some wonderful creative people in the city.”

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Arts University Plymouth recently won Best Small or Specialist University at the 2022 WhatUni Student Choice Awards, voted for by students. It was shortlisted for the CSR/Sustainability Transformation Award at the 2022 International Think Global Awards.

Arts University Plymouth’s Students’ Union also recently won Best Campaign Supporting Student Wellbeing at the Think Student Awards, beating leading international universities to be selected as the winner by the Student Pulse panel of 40,000 students.