Northumbria University

Northumbria University (legally the University of Northumbria at Newcastle) is a UK public university located in Newcastle upon Tyne, North East of England. It has been a university since 1992, but has its origins in the Rutherford College, founded in 1877.[6]

Northumbria University
Northumbria University coat of arms.png
Coat of Arms
MottoLatin: Aetas Discendi[1]
Motto in English
A lifetime of learning
Established1877 - Rutherford College of Technology
1969 - Newcastle Polytechnic
1992 - gained university status
Budget£255M (2019)
ChancellorTanni Grey-Thompson
Vice-ChancellorAndrew Wathey[2]
Academic staff
1,309 (2018/19) [3]
Administrative staff
1,375 (2018/19) [3]
Students28,325 (2019/20)[4]
Undergraduates20,455 (2019/20)[4]
Postgraduates7,875 (2019/20)[4]
Other students
220 FE[5]

54°58′35″N 1°36′29″W / 54.9764°N 1.6080°W / 54.9764; -1.6080Coordinates: 54°58′35″N 1°36′29″W / 54.9764°N 1.6080°W / 54.9764; -1.6080
CampusUrban and suburban
ColoursUniversity: Black & white
Northumbria Sport:
Sporting affiliations
Northumbria Sport

Northumbria University is primarily based within City Campus located in Newcastle upon Tyne city centre with other campuses based in Coach Lane, London and Amsterdam. It is organised into four faculties — Design and Social Sciences, Business and Law, Engineering and Environment and Health and Life Sciences. As of 2019, Northumbria has around 26,450 full-time students and 2,684 academic and research staff. It had a consolidated income of £254 million in 2018/19. Northumbria is a member of AACSB, the Association of Commonwealth, Universities UK and the Wallace Group.

Northumbria is ranked number one among UK universities in the Times Higher Education's Young Universities Rankings (2020).[7]


Northumbria University has its origins in three Newcastle colleges: Rutherford College of Technology, which was established by John Hunter Rutherford in 1877 and opened formally in 1894 by the Duke of York (later King George V), the College of Art & Industrial Design and the Municipal College of Commerce. In 1969, the three colleges were amalgamated to form Newcastle Polytechnic. The Polytechnic became the major regional centre for the training of teachers with the creation of the City College of Education in 1974 and the Northern Counties College of Education in 1976.[8]

The Sutherland Building

In 1992, Newcastle Polytechnic was reconstituted as the new University of Northumbria,[9] as part of a nationwide process in which polytechnics became new universities. It was originally styled, and its official name still is, the University of Northumbria at Newcastle (see the Articles of Government[10]) but the trading name was simplified to Northumbria University in 2002. In 1995, it was awarded responsibility for the education of healthcare professionals, which was transferred from the National Health Service.

2017 testing accidentEdit

In 2017, the university was fined £400,000 after a sports science experiment gave volunteers a hundred times the safe dose. Two students volunteering in a study of the effects of caffeine were given a dose of 30g instead of 0.3g, because staff conducting the experiment tried to calculate the dose on a mobile phone calculator and misread the decimal point. Both were hospitalised and one reported loss of short-term memory.[11][12] A court hearing heard that the university had not trained staff in safety and had not carried out a proper risk assessment, and that the dose was above the level known to cause risk of death.[13]

2020 IT incidentEdit

On 28 August 2020, Northumbria University's IT infrastructure was the target of a cyber attack. Northumbria University said there had been "operational disruptions across networks and IT systems" on Friday the 28th. Student access to the campus was restricted for the following week. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Peter Francis said in a statement that the university was working with external specialists who launched an investigation. Elsewhere in the city, Newcastle University had also reported a "number of operational issues" but it was not known at this stage whether the two incidents are linked.[14]

In September 2020 the UK's National Cyber Security Centre, which is a part of GCHQ, warned that colleges and universities were being increasingly targeted by ransomware attacks.[15]

2020 coronavirus outbreakEdit

In October 2020 the university moved learning online after members of the UCU union said they would ballot for industrial action in response to perceived health and safety failings.[16] 770 students had tested positive for coronavirus. Both the students and close contacts were required to self-isolate for 14 days.[17]

Campuses and locationEdit

Northumbria university's City Campus East.

United KingdomEdit

City Campus East

The university has two large campuses situated in Newcastle and one in London. City Campus, located in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, is divided into City Campus East and City Campus West by the city's central motorway and linked by a £4 million bridge which in 2008 was officially opened by the former Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Digby Jones.[18]

City CampusEdit

Law and Business Building

City Campus East is home to the Schools of Law, Design and the Newcastle Business School (NBS). NBS and Law are housed in one building, and the School of Design is across a courtyard.

City Campus East, designed by Atkins, opened in September 2007, winning awards from The Journal newspaper and the Low Carbon New Build Project of the Year accolade.

Buildings of Northumbria University

City Campus West is home to the Schools of Arts & Social Sciences, Built & Natural Environment, Computing, Engineering & Information Sciences and Life Sciences. Also located on this campus is the University Library, Students' Union building and Sport Central, a £31m sports facility for students, staff and the community which opened in 2010.[8]

The Sutherland Building, formerly the Medical School of Durham University,[19] which was a naval warehouse during World War II, and the Dental School of Durham University (1945–78) is the home of Administrative Departments including Finance & Planning and Human Resources, using the space vacated when the School of Law moved to City Campus East.

The Students' Union building, at City Campus West, underwent a multimillion-pound makeover with new lobby and recreational facilities, and a refurbished bar and cafe space, in summer 2010.

In September 2016 the Sandyford Building was acquired from Newcastle College.[20]

In 2018 a £7m building for Computer and Information sciences was opened in City Campus West[21] in place of the demolished Rutherford Hall.[22]

Coach LaneEdit

A second campus[23] is located 2.6 miles (4 km) outside Newcastle, on Coach Lane, and is known as the Coach Lane Campus at Cochrane Park near the A188 (Benton Road). It is in the Dene ward near Longbenton and round the corner from Tyneview Park; a large Department for Work and Pensions office, accessible via the Four Lane Ends Interchange.

The Coach Lane Campus is home to School of Health, Community and Education Studies. Coach Lane Campus has computing and library services; its own Students' Union, and sports facilities, including indoor courts, a fitness suite, outdoor rugby and football pitches, and an all-weather floodlit pitch.[24] A free shuttle bus scheme runs between the two campuses.

London CampusEdit

The London Campus offers full-time or part-time programmes, from a range of Business, Computing, Cyber, Project Management and Technology focused programmes.[25]


Northumbria University has an international campus based in Amsterdam, Netherlands through a partnership with Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences where it offers accredited postgraduate qualifications and the opportunity for undergraduates to experience overseas studies.[26]

Organisation and structureEdit

Former Dame Allan's School

Northumbria describes itself as a comprehensive university, offering 30 of Britain's 32 most frequently chosen academic disciplines. It specialises in law and business, arts and design, computing, environmental science, built environment, applied healthcare, sports science and psychology, and teacher education.

Northumbria University employs more than 3,200 people and offers approximately 500 study programmes[27] through four Faculties:

  • Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Business and Law
  • Faculty of Engineering and Environment
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Northumbria University Press is the university press, established in 2002. It is based in Newcastle upon Tyne and publishes a diverse range of books, including publications on language, photography, biography, travel and music.

Newcastle Business SchoolEdit

Newcastle Business School logo.

In September 2007, Northumbria University opened its new Newcastle Business School building on the site of the former Warner Brothers cinema as part of a £136m city campus east development.[28] Newcastle Business School is the only university in the UK to hold double AACSB accreditation for business and accounting which makes them form part of an elite group of 190 institutions worldwide to hold this.[29][30] As of 2020, The university also holds accreditation for EPAS in 21 different undergraduate programmes, more than any other university in the UK. Newcastle Business School has also developed relations with a wide range of other professional bodies.[30] As a result, the university can offer a wide range of professional exemptions in its programmes such as the Accountancy degree which holds exemptions from many of the top accountancy boards including ICAEW, ACCA, and CIMA.

In 2015, Newcastle Business School was the winner of ‘UK Business School of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards.[31]

Northumbria Law SchoolEdit

Northumbria Law School is located within City Campus East where it shares its building with Newcastle Business School.

Northumbria Law School is the largest law school within the north-east of England. It is part of only six institutions outside of London that provides the Bar Professional Training Course.[32] Northumbria Law School is located within City Campus East where it shares its building with Newcastle Business School.

Northumbria also offers 'clinical' courses in law accredited by the Law Society and Bar Council. These allow graduates direct entry to the profession. The institution's Student Law Office is a clinical legal education enterprise,[33] where law students participate in a legal advice and representation scheme on behalf of real clients, under the supervision of practising lawyers. The student law office has managed over 7,000 enquiries and represented over 3,000 clients since 2005.[32] In 2013, the university was awarded with the Queens Anniversary Prize in Further and Higher and Further Education for outstanding community work of its student law office.[34][33]


Although the university roots are linked with medicine through the Sutherland building being formerly the Medical School of Durham University, it has not offered medicine as a programme until recently. Northumbria has a joint medical programme through a joint partnership with St George's University of Grenada.[35] As part of the programme the teaching hours are split between time spent within the Grenada and the United Kingdom. The programme has been expanded in recent years with an increased amount of time that students can spend within the United Kingdom.

Academic profileEdit

National rankings
Complete (2023)[36]43
Guardian (2022)[37]41
Times / Sunday Times (2022)[38]57
Global rankings
THE (2022)[39]351-400
QS (2023)[40]651-700
ARWU (2022)[41]901–1000


In the UK Research Assessment Exercise 2008 some research in nine of twelve areas submitted was described as "world-leading".[42] In the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise, Northumbria was one of the UK top 50 for research power and the university which had risen fastest up the rankings.[43]

Reputation and rankingsEdit

Under Vice Chancellor Andrew Wathey, Northumbria University has climbed to 27th place on The Guardian University league tables.[44]

The Times Higher Education World University Ranking (2021) places Northumbria University in the 351-400 range.[45]

In the 2014 REF, along with Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy, humanities and arts subjects were the best scoring Units of Assessment.[46]

Northumbria is ranked number one among UK universities in the Times Higher Education's Young Universities Rankings (2020).[7]

Student lifeEdit

Sutherland Building main entrance.

Northumbria Students' Union is a campaigning and representative organisation. It is a charity currently exempt from registration and is led by five Sabbatical Officers (President and four vice-presidents) and a 19-member Student Council.

The Students' Union offers a range of student activities such as NSU/Community,[47] NSU/Media (Which encompasses NSU/TV, NSU/Radio, NSU/Life and NSU/Snaps),[48] NSU/Rag (Raise and Give),[49] NSU/Societies,[50] NSU/Employability,[51] Duke of Edinburgh awards[52] and Fast Friends.[52] It represents students in academic and non-academic matters through a nationally recognised School Reps and Postgraduate Research Reps Systems.

The university building contains several venues for students to socialise in a safe environment, chiefly at Habita (formerly Bar One), Domain (formerly The Venue) and Reds.

In 2011, Northumbria Students' Union received the National Union of Students award for best higher education students union.[53]

In 2016, Northumbria Students' Union received the National Union of Students award for Student Opportunities and runner up for the Education Award.[54]

Due to the city of Newcastle's sister status with Atlanta, Northumbria University runs an annual student exchange programme with Georgia State University, offering students from both institutions the chance to experience student culture in their respective cities. [55]


Northumbria University rugby team joined the RFU structure in 2007, under the name ‘Team Northumbria’. They won three promotions in as many years. First from Durham/Northumberland 3 in 2008, winning Durham/Northumberland 2 in 2009 and promotion from Durham/Northumberland 1 in 2010. They played at their highest level, in North 1 East until relegation in 2012. The team was then disbanded from the RFU league structure. However, they still play in the Northumberland Senior Cup, winning the cup for the first time in 2015.


Notable alumniEdit

See alsoEdit


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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit