University of the Year award is a springboard to success


Amazing achievements after year as incumbent of Times Higher Education award

Not even the sky was a limit for the University of Sheffield in an amazing 12 months as Times Higher Education University of the Year – a period that saw staff and students reach Olympic feats.

After being named the number one institution in the UK at the 2011 Times Higher Education Awards, the University has gone from strength to strength with many more successes in the last year.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Keith Burnett said: “It has been a year of significant achievement across the board for both staff and students following the University being named Times Higher Education University of the Year, going on to be top of the Russell Group and top of the Yorkshire and the Humber region in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey, and the University's services being rated the best in the country by an independent students' satisfaction survey. All these accolades respect hard work and talent by all concerned and demonstrate our commitment to strive constantly towards excellence in everything that we do."


The University's student experience was rated second to none with a whole host of top satisfaction results from a wide range of surveys in 2012.

The University's Students' Union was ranked number one in the UK by the National Student Survey, while the University received an overall satisfaction score of more than 90 per cent for the second year running.

Another independent table, the Student Barometer, rated the University as having the highest percentage of students willing to recommend their institution to others at 92 per cent.

Accommodation services were also awarded Best Student Housing at the inaugural College and University Business Officers (CUBO) awards for its excellence as well as services, activities and events to create a balanced and inclusive community.

Finally, the University was named 66th in the prestigious QS World University Rankings out of more than 2,500 institutions across the world, as well as best performing institution in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Professor Burnett added: “We're thrilled to be ranked so highly for student experience. Choosing to go to a particular university is more than simply an investment in a future career. It also provides a life changing opportunity to broaden your horizons and develop socially and academically.

"Our excellent student facilities are home to a vibrant community and a student experience that is enriching to the whole person. We believe university life at Sheffield inspires students for the rest of their lives and we're delighted that our students agree.

Awards and rankings:

  • Students’ Union was ranked number one in the UK by the National Student Survey
  • Overall satisfaction score of more than 90 per cent
  • Highest percentage of students willing to recommend their institution to others
  • 66th in the prestigious QS World University Rankings
  • Best Student Housing

"Being named top in the region by the QS World University Rankings is a tremendous accolade for the University, and one that is very well deserved. Not only has the University been named top in Yorkshire, but we have also seen a rise in our world ranking out of more than 2,500 institutions, highlighting our exceptional reputation both at home and overseas."

Investment in the future

Despite these brilliant successes the University is not resting on its laurels with millions of pounds of investment in new facilities to help drive both learning and the city forward.

With a long tradition of breaking new ground, the University is bringing a pioneering building from the last century back to the future with a £20 million refurbishment of University House to create one of the largest Students’ Union complexes in the UK.

unihouseOne of the first glass curtain walled buildings in the world when it was unveiled in 1963, University House will be transformed into a new world class facility for students, staff and the community at the heart of the campus, as well as being integrated with the University’s award-winning Students' Union in one single building, ensuring it stays at the top of the satisfaction table.

"It's wonderful to know that our students continue to be amongst the most satisfied in the country and that the Students’ Union, which is currently undergoing a £20 million refurbishment to further improve facilities, has been rated the best in the country," added Professor Burnett.

“The investment is a testament to our commitment to providing an outstanding student experience, excellent facilities and world-class teaching and support.”

The University of Sheffield's Faculty of Engineering is investing £21 million in the first stage of an exciting expansion project designed to ensure students continue to benefit from world-class labs and teaching space.

The Engineering Graduate School will house collaborative and interdisciplinary research groups and has been planned to enable the growth of the faculty's postgraduate offer.

amrcA multi-million pound training centre will provide up to 250 apprenticeships every year for the region’s young people aiming to provide the next generation of world leading engineers. The pioneering Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre will see hundreds of paid apprenticeships for students as young as 16 in the largest scheme of its kind in the UK.

“The Manufacturing Sector needs to be proactive to rebalance the economy. High levels of skills are what will make the difference when we compete on a global basis in technology and leadership,” said Professor Burnett.

“What we are doing together to regenerate our region and to regenerate UK manufacturing is wasted if our research and equipment is not matched by skilled people. We need young people ready to accept the jobs we create and to take the UK forward.

“We are creating the skilled workers at all levels who will secure this for the future. This is the crucial next step in the outstanding work here at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing (AMRC) and together as we make a step change in advanced manufacture. The AMRC Training Centre is a model that supports the development of talented young engineers and manufacturers, but also offers these apprentices a superb opportunity to gain experience working and learning with the world's best. As companies continue to locate in the area around the collaborative expertise of our outstanding Engineers and supply chain companies, the AMRC Training Centre will provide the skill base to support business growth.”

Work is also underway at the University’s School of Management, which will be moving to an £11.5 million facility providing a world class teaching, learning and business space.

The University's Crookesmoor Building will be given a 21st century makeover aiming to provide students and staff with a world-leading facility and contemporary, flexible, multi-purpose teaching spaces that will inspire learning.

The new facility will enable the school to offer scholarships for students who are talented and disadvantaged, carry out hard-hitting research to tackle real world problems and create a lasting legacy to help shape the future of the global economy.

awardThe Vice-Chancellor's Fellowship scheme was also launched in October and displays the University’s commitment to support and promote international research capacity through the appointment of outstanding research staff.

It is hoped the fellowships, which will see the new staff join by April 2013, will cultivate a new generation of researchers and enable the University to carry out even more ground breaking research that makes a real difference to people’s lives.

Professor Burnett said: "I am delighted to announce the introduction of these Vice-Chancellor’s fellowships, which show the University’s commitment to developing cutting edge research talent over the long term.

"The University of Sheffield is proud of its reputation for world-class scholarships across the board, and we are committed to ensuring that the highest calibre academic staff are given the environment in which they can thrive.

"The University of Sheffield is determined to make the kind of interventions that will attract and develop outstanding individuals. We believe these Vice-Chancellor’s Fellowships will further strengthen our offer as an internationally-renowned institution carrying out world class research and delivering a real impact for communities here and across the globe."

Community impact

The University soared to new heights this summer with the 11 day long Festival of the Mind, the world’s first academic-city collaboration festival offering dozens of free events to entertain and enlighten.

Highlights of the festival included a poetry competition, which saw the winners’ words blasted into space in a balloon that burst in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, the Cabinet of Curiosities – a mind boggling museum situated in one of the University’s science buildings – and Do It Thissen, a celebration of the do-it-yourself attitude that shaped Sheffield’s music scene in the 70s and early 80s.

Sporting stars from the University took centre stage at the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer with former and current students taking to the track, the court and more.

University graduate Jessica Ennis set a new British and Commonwealth record on the way to winning Gold in the heptathlon, paralympian table tennis player David Wetherwill provided one of the TV highlights of the games with a superhuman return, and other current and ex-students included beach volleyball player Zara Dampney, volleyball players Oluwadamilola Bakare, Kieron O'Malley, and Dan Hunter.

Professor Nigel DunnettCentral to the success of the London 2012 Games were the blooming gardens in the Olympic Park – the UK’s largest ever man-made wildflower meadows – featuring bee-friendly cornflowers, marigolds, Californian poppies and prairie flowers which were specially designed to flower late by international wildflower expert Professors Nigel Dunnett and Professor James Hitchmough from the University of Sheffield's Department of Landscape.

Closer to home, Labour leader Ed Miliband MP launched the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) with a special lecture to more than 1,000 people at the University’s Octagon Centre, on his plans to reinvigorate the economy.

Calling for better training, innovation and investment, Mr Miliband described the University as “the right institute, at the right time, in the right place” as it bids to bring together leading international researchers in the social sciences, policy-makers, journalists and opinion formers to assess and develop proposals in response to the political and economic issues posed by the global financial crisis.

Ground breaking research

Research is central to the University as shown by Dr Paul Pettitt from the Department of Archaeology, a renowned expert in cave art, who discovered some of Europe’s oldest paintings dating back at least 40,000 years.

Experts used uranium-series dating to reveal the Iberian paintings were Europe’s oldest cave art, and the practice of cave art in Europe began up to 10,000 years earlier than previously thought.

celebIn the last year in the Faculty of Science, academics from the University’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, Dr Marcelo Rivolta and a team of researchers transplanted human embryonic stem cells into deaf gerbils and successfully restored their hearing by creating ear cells.

Thanks to Dr Rivolta's work a cure for a common form of deafness, which affects about 15 per cent of people with profound hearing loss across the world, is a step closer.

Elsewhere, scientists at the University of Sheffield were integral in the search for the Higgs boson particle at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Professor Dan Tovey of the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy led a team from Sheffield working on experiments central to the search for Higgs.

New ways to treat debilitating brittle bone disease were discovered by researchers from the University’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health.

Dr Alison Gartland, who is based at the Mellanby Centre for Bone Research at the University of Sheffield, discovered if they could change a receptor they could slow down bone loss which would then lead to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a devastating condition that affects half of all women and a fifth of men over 50 in the UK. The disease can reduce quality of life and more than a 100,000 people die each month because they are not diagnosed and treated early enough.

Professor Burnett added: "The University has cemented its place as a leading global university with a world-class reputation for research and with so many exciting plans in place it is set to continue to take strides forwards in 2013."

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, and 2007).

These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world. The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.


For further information please contact:

Paul Mannion
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 9851