The University of Wales, Swansea (Welsh: Prifysgol Cymru, Abertawe; styled as: Swansea University) is a constituent institution of the federal University of Wales, located in Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom.
Swansea University was founded as University College, Swansea in 1920, as the fourth college of the University of Wales, following the report of the Haldane Commission into University Education in Wales. It later changed its name to the University of Wales, Swansea following structural changes within the University of Wales. The current title was adopted in 2006; however, the name has not yet officially been changed.
The university campus is the closest university in the UK to a beach, located on the north coast of Swansea Bay, east of the Gower Peninsula, in the grounds of Singleton Park, just outside the city of Swansea — the second largest city in Wales. Swansea was granted its own degree-awarding powers in 2005 in preparation for possible changes within the University of Wales.
Swansea maintains a strong rivalry against Cardiff University, against whom they compete in an annual varsity match, known as the Welsh version of the Oxbridge event.
Governance and structure
Swansea received its royal charter in 1920 and like many universities is governed by its constitution that is set out in its statutes and charter. Swansea University is governed by three bodies: the Council, Senate and Court.
- The Council consists of 38 members including various academic members such as the president, vice-chancellor and students along with representatives of the city and council of Swansea. The councils remit is in the management and administration of the property and revenue of the university and the conduct of all of its affairs. The council mainly works through a committee structure.
- The Senate consists of 140 members, the majority of whom are academics but includes also representatives from both the Students' Union and the Athletic Union. The senate is chaired by the Vice-chancellor, who is the head of the university both academically and administratively. The senate is the main academic body of the university and is responsible for teaching and research.
- The Court consists of over 300 members, who represent the stakeholders in the university and stretch from local to national institutions. The court meets annually each December to discuss the university's annual report and its financial statements, as well as to discuss current issues in higher education
Swansea university’s academic departments are organised into 10 schools as follows:
- The School of Arts: English; French; German; Italian; Hispanic Studies; Welsh; Russian; Translation departments; Centre for Applied Language Studies and the Media and Communication Studies Departments
- The School of Business and Economics: Business and Economic departments
- The School of Environment and Society: Geography; Biological Sciences; Sociology; Anthropology Departments
- The School of Health Science: Health
- The School of Engineering: Aerospace Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Civil Engineering; Electrical & Electronic Engineering; Information, Communication & Computing Technology; Integrated Schemes; Materials Engineering and Mechanical Engineering
- The School of Humanities: American Studies; Classical, Ancient History and Egyptology; History; Philosophy and Politics and International Relations Departments (Inc. Callaghan Centre for the study of Conflict)
- The School of Human Science: Applied Social Science; Childhood Science; Psychology and Sport Science departments
- The School of Medicine: Graduate Medicine; Genetics
- The School of Law: Law; Department of Professional Legal Studies (Graduate Diploma in Law; Legal Practice Course (LPC))
- The School of Physical Sciences: Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics departments
Research Institutes and Centres
Institute of Life Sciences
Swansea University is in the process of building the new £50 million Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), with a new IBM Blue C computer (the fastest computer dedicated to the life sciences anywhere in the world) in the “Deep Computing Visualisation Centre for Medical Applications“. The ILS has been funded through several organisations, and will form not just a research branch but also a commercial branch of the university’s school of medicine.
The institute will do research mainly in the fields of:
- Medical Visualization
- Deep Computing
- K-Economy (Knowledge economy)
- Techniques in diagnostics and therapeutics
- Public Health (Especially in emergency medicine and clinical epidemiology)
- Clinical and Bio-medical Research
The above research foci will be grouped into two: Bio-medical research and the centre for Health Improvement Research and Evaluation. Work has already begun on the six-storey tower, which will house state-of-the-art laboratories, dedicated business centre along with a micro-technium centre.
Institute of Advanced Telecommunications
In November 2005, the University announced the creation of an Institute of Advanced Telecommunications (IAT). It is a £30m collaboration between the Welsh Assembly Government, Swansea University and a wide range of the world's leading multinational telecommunications companies, including Marconi, Sony, IBM, ALPS, BT and Agilent. Construction giant Laing O'Rourke and Traffic Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government's traffic information service, are also key partners. IAT will be based at Swansea University. The Institute will open up new research in areas including deep space telecommunications, optical systems and networks, wireless communications and telematics. In March 2006 the IAT received a grant of £20 million to conduct research in heterogeneous IP networks, the grant was awarded by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Richard Burton Centre for Film & Popular Culture
Swansea University has now become the permanent home of the Richard Burton collection. The actor’s papers, diaries, photographs and books will be housed at a new centre named in his honour. The Richard Burton Centre for Film and Popular Culture will celebrate the man widely held to be Wales’ leading 20th Century film and theatre actor.
The actor’s widow, Sally Burton, said she was delighted to donate her husband’s papers to the University, where they would be cared for permanently by a professionally-qualified archivist.
Institute of Governance and Public Policy
The Institute of Governance and Public Policy (IGAPP), to be established in 2007, is a joint venture of the Schools of Humanities and Environment & Society, in collaboration with other researchers across the University. It will have three broad aims: first, to develop conceptual/theoretical understandings of governance and public policy; secondly, to undertake analyses of specific areas of governance and public policy; and thirdly to establish strong relationships with actors involved in governance, such as public authorities (governments, IGOs) as well as civil society actors (such as NGOs and social movements) and governments.
As a cutting-edge research centre, the Institute will have a particular focus on regional and devolved governance in the United Kingdom but also across the EU and in non-EU (European) countries. It will also be concerned with analysing the emerging supranational and global architectures of governance and the public policies formulated at those levels. Such a broad research agenda will allow it to capitalise on the research expertise already present in the university.
In addition the Institute will seek to go beyond existing expertise by developing comparative research as well as focusing on issues of sub-national governance and public policy in European and global contexts. It will therefore draw upon a wide range of networks and relationships both within the University, in social science in Wales, in collaboration with Cardiff, and in wider UK and international networks. It will also develop strong relationships specifically with the National Assembly for Wales.
The Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Research
The Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Research is a new state-of-the-art facility to research methods of cultivating fish and shellfish under environmentally friendly conditions. CSAR is developing new approaches to fish and shellfish farming, focused on providing the highest standards of animal health and welfare, without risk to the natural environment.
The Centre will revolutionise approaches to fish farming and is in line with the Welsh Assembly Government’s priority of providing new economic opportunities and new sources of high quality seafood through sustainable aquaculture.
CSAR has been established as part of the European Union and Welsh Assembly Government-funded “Aquaculture Wales” project. The 750 square metre controlled environment facility provides a world-class platform for research on the sustainable aquaculture of practically any tropical or coldwater marine or freshwater fish or invertebrate. Water recirculation technology provides optimal growing conditions for livestock, to prevent both disease and the discharge of wastes back to the environment.
Boots Centre for Innovation
A unique £3 million Boots Centre for Innovation is to be created within Swansea University’s Institute for Life Science to help researchers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop new products.
The Centre, backed by a £300,000 Regional Selective Assistance grant from the Welsh Assembly Government, will use its facilities – and the Institute’s expertise – to assist the innovators to develop new products for Alliance Boots plc in areas as diverse as pain relief, skin treatments, diabetes, and healthy ageing.
Pioneering researchers and innovative small businesses will be able to bring promising ideas to the Boots Centre in Swansea to obtain scientific expertise, business know-how and financial backing.
They will be able to work with the Centre’s specialist staff to turn those ideas into valuable new products. And a partnership deal between Alliance Boots plc and venture capitalists Longbow Capital LLP will offer the entrepreneurs access to investment funding.
The Centre will open for business in April 2007 – and will be a subsidiary of The Boots Company plc.
Three collections of student residences provide accommodation for 2,800 undergraduates (approximately 98% of first year undergraduates are able to gain a place in University accommodation). All sites provide wireless Internet access, communal Meeting Rooms and basic amenities:
- Singleton Halls — provides accommodation for 850 students on the Singleton campus in traditional halls of residence. The halls offer a combination of part (Kilvey, Preseli, Rhossili and Cefn Bryn) and self-catered rooms (Caswell, Langland and Oxwich). A new hall of residence will be built on the Singleton campus, with construction work already commencing as of Spring 2006.
- Hendrefoelan Student Village — The largest area of student residences at Swansea University, which provide accommodation for 1,644 students. The student village is located 2½ miles away from the Singleton campus, and is made up of a mixture of shared housing and flats, all self-catering.
- Tŷ Beck (Beck House) — Six large Victorian town houses situated in the Uplands area of Swansea, approximately a mile from the Singleton campus. Predominantly provide rooms for postgraduates, mature students (aged 22 or over) and students with families, as well as overseas exchange students. Formerly the undergraduate residence, Neuadd Beck (Beck Hall).
There were previously also halls of Residence - Neuadd Gilbertson and Neuadd Martin — at Clyne Castle.
The University also provides a number of houses in Brynmill and Uplands, which are let to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The University has restructured in recent years, expanding popular areas such as History, English, Geography and Computer Science, but closing the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and the Department of Philosophy. The Department of Chemistry has also ceased to take undergraduate students, although it continues to carry out research and post-graduate teaching. A new course Aerospace Engineering has been introduced of which the first batch will pass out this year(2007). Another recent development is the partnership with Cardiff University to provide a four-year graduate-entry medical degree (MB BCh), where students spend two years of accelerated study in Swansea before completing two further years in Cardiff, Swansea and hospitals around Wales.
The Western Britain chapter of the International Conference for the Study of Political Thought was moved to the Department of Politics & International Relations from Exeter University earlier in 2006.
Accelerating growth in research activities is putting pressure on facilities and requires the University to provide additional workspace and an improved infrastructure.
The University recently commissioned a team of consultants, Actium Consult, to research options for a ten-year “Estates Strategy”, taking into account the pressures created by its growth and sustained increases in student numbers. The brief was to research and evaluate all options available to the University. The key finding in the report demonstrates that the University will require a significant amount of additional space in order to provide the facilities necessary to meet future demand. Actium Consult propose three different options to address this need for space.
1. Demolish Fulton House and Union House and redevelop the site
2. Refurbish Fulton House and redevelop the site between Singleton Hospital and the halls of residence
3. Consider an alternative location (two sites are evaluated in the report).
The consultant’s recommendation is to redevelop central areas of Singleton Campus, although this does raise a number of other issues. The University also needs to consider future provision for student accommodation. Currently, all the options are being considered and the University is consulting with staff, as well as other stakeholders in the local community, to identify the best course of action.
The University have indicated that their preferred option would be to have Fulton House, the main building on campus, delisted and to demolish the building. The independent advisors who examined the University and recommended the plans have stated that the University would require Fulton House to be de-listed by June 2007 in order for the plan to be feasible.
The Times university Top 100 league table recently listed the University as the 43rd best university in the UK (out of a total of 109), up from 50th position in 2004 but down from 42nd in 2005. In addition, the University picked up the 2005 Times Higher Education Supplement Award for the UK's "best student experience". However, the survey was criticised by some, as it was carried out by the Student Panel. Detractors claimed that the sample was self-selected and therefore unscientific. The University is also listed as one of the top 500 universities in the World at 401 to 500 in the 2006 Shanghai Jiao Tong University World Rankings. The Guardian league tables also placed the university at 42nd in its institution wide table.
Library & Information Services at Swansea provides a combined library, IT and Careers service. The main Library & Information Centre on the Singleton campus has over 800,000 books and periodicals, along with a wide range of electronic resources including over 19,000 electronic journals. There are over 1,000 study spaces, almost half of which are equipped with networked PCs.
The Library & Information Centre also has major archive collections, based on the South Wales Coalfield Collection, several papers of Welsh writers in English and the Richard Burton Collection, which was recently donated by his wife, Sally Burton. It is hoped that the collection will form the hub of a learning resource dedicated to the actor’s life and work.
Plans to integrate the Natural Sciences Library (NSL) with the main library cause widespread protest by students concerned with losing a valuable asset to the Geography and Biology departments.
Xtreme Radio 1431AM
Xtreme Radio is the radio station of the University, run by students. It broadcasts to various areas around campus, around Swansea itself on 1431AM and worldwide on the internet. The station plays a wide variety of music, as well as having a number of specialist programmes relating to Swansea student life. Xtreme will be forty years old in 2008, making it one of the longest established student radio stations in the UK.
Swansea University is host to many international students. Large numbers of Chinese, Malaysian and American students study at the University.
The American Studies Department hosts over one hundred American students every semester. These students come primarily from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Ohio State University, the University of Iowa, and Iowa State University.