Bangor University

Bangor University (Welsh: Prifysgol Bangor) is a university in Bangor, Wales. It received its Royal Charter in 1885 and was one of the founding institutions of the federal University of Wales. Officially known as University College of North Wales (UCNW), and later University of Wales, Bangor (UWB) (Welsh: Prifysgol Cymru, Bangor), in 2007 it became Bangor University, independent from the University of Wales.

Bangor University
Welsh: Prifysgol Bangor
Former names
University College of North Wales (1884–1996)
University of Wales, Bangor (1996–2007)
MottoWelsh: Gorau Dawn Deall
Motto in English
"The Best Gift is Knowledge"
ChancellorGeorge Meyrick
Vice-ChancellorIwan Davies
Administrative staff
Students11,270 (2016/17)[1]
Undergraduates8,615 (2016/17)[1]
Postgraduates2,650 (2016/17)[1]
Location, ,
53.2289°N 4.1301°W / 53.2289; -4.1301
NicknameWelsh: Y Coleg ar y Bryn ("The College on the Hill")
Universities UK
University of Wales


The university was founded as the University College of North Wales (UCNW) on 18 October 1884, with an inaugural address by the Earl of Powis, the College's first President, in Penrhyn Hall.[2] There was then a procession to the college including 3,000 quarrymen (quarrymen from Penrhyn Quarry and other quarries had subscribed more than 1,200 pounds to the university).[3] The foundation was the result of a campaign for better provision of higher education in Wales that had involved some rivalry among towns in North Wales over which was to be the location of the new college.

The college was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1885.[2] Its students received degrees from the University of London until 1893, when UCNW became a founding constituent institution of the federal University of Wales.

During the Second World War paintings from national art galleries were stored in the Prichard-Jones Hall at UCNW to protect them from enemy bombing. They were later moved to slate mines at Blaenau Ffestiniog.[2] Students from University College, London, were evacuated to continue their studies in a safer environment at Bangor.[2]


During the 1960s the university shared in the general expansion of higher education in the UK following the Robbins Report, with a number of new departments and new buildings.[2] On 22 November 1965, during construction of an extension to the Department of Electronic Engineering in Dean Street, a crane collapsed on the building. The three-ton counterweight hit the second-floor lecture theatre in the original building about thirty minutes before it would have been occupied by about 80 first-year students. The counterweight went through to the ground floor.[4]

In 1967 the Bangor Normal College, now part of the university, was the venue for lectures on Transcendental Meditation by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at which The Beatles heard of the death of their manager, Brian Epstein.[5]

Student protests at UCNW in the 1970s focused mainly on calls to expand the role of the Welsh language.[2] Around this time consideration began of mergers with two colleges of education in Bangor: St Mary's College, a college for women studying to become schoolteachers, and the larger and older Normal College/Coleg Normal. The merger of St Mary's into UCNW was concluded in 1977, but the merger with Coleg Normal fell through in the 1970s and was not completed until 1996.

Name change

The change of name to Bangor University, or Prifysgol Bangor in Welsh, was instigated by the university following the decision of the University of Wales to change from a federal university to a confederal non-membership organisation, and the granting of degree-awarding powers to Bangor University itself. As a result, every student starting after 2009 gained a degree from Bangor University, while any student who started before 2009 had the option to have either Bangor University or University of Wales Bangor on their degree certificate.[6]

Under John Hughes's leadership as Vice-Chancellor, there were a number of new developments including the opening of St Mary's Student Village,[7] and the first ever collaboration between Wales and China to establish a new college, which involved Bangor University and the Central South University of Forestry and Technology (CSUFT).[8]

In 2014, Hughes attracted £45m of financing from the European Investment Bank,[9][10] to assist the university in developing its estates strategy.

In 2016, the university opened Marine Centre Wales,[11] a £5.5m building on the site of the university's Ocean Sciences campus in Menai Bridge, which was financed as part of the £25 million SEACAMS project, part funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).[12]

In May 2017, Bangor became the fourth Welsh university to review its cost base with a view to making savings of £8.5m.[13] The university responded and introduced a number of cost saving measures including the introduction of a voluntary severance scheme, and the numbers of jobs at risk was reduced from the initial estimate of 170.[14] In addressing its financial challenges, Bangor University also reorganised some subject areas in 2017, which involved introducing new ways of co-ordinating and delivering adult education and part-time degree programmes,[15] continuing to teach archaeology, but discontinuing the single honours course,[16] and working with Grwp Llandrillo Menai to validate the BA Fine Art degree.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

Other issues which attracted adverse media comment included the cost overrun and delayed opening of the Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre in 2016,[25][26][27][28][29][27][30][31][32][33] the appointment of Hughes's then wife to a newly created senior management position,[34] the purchase and refurbishment of a house for the vice-chancellor by the university (costing the institution £750,000),[35][36][37][38][39] the expenses of some senior staff,[40][29][41][42] and the discrepancy between senior management salaries and remuneration for staff working on zero hour contracts.[43][44] In 2016, Hughes received a 7.5% pay rise and the university confirmed that this was the first increase that the vice-chancellor had received from the university's remuneration committee (of which Hughes himself was a member) since his appointment in 2010, although he would still have received an annual pay rise.[45]

From Hughes's takeover in 2010, when Bangor University made a £4.2 million profit, to 2017, the university's nominal income had risen by 12 per cent, but their expenditures by 19 per cent with the university's interests and finance costs (despite very low interest rates) soaring by 747 per cent.[46] In early 2019, an accountant who studied the university's finances on behalf of trade union criticised that the figures suggested spending had been diverted from staff costs to financing building projects.[47] When a new financial crisis as well as allegations of Hughes's racist and sexist harassment against his ex-wife were revealed in late 2018 and the announced closure of the chemistry department and new staff cuts sparked student protest, Bangor University announced Hughes's resignation by December 2018, eight months ahead of his ordinary retirement.[48][49][50]

Campus and buildings

The university occupies a substantial proportion of Bangor and also has part of its School of Healthcare Sciences in Wrexham.

Arts Building

The university was originally based in an old coaching inn, the Penrhyn Arms Hotel, which housed its 58 students and its 12 teaching staff. In 1911 it moved to a much larger new building, which is now the old part of the Main Arts Building. This building, designed by Henry Hare, had its foundation stone laid by King Edward VII on 9 July 1907, and was formally opened by King George V in 1911. The iconic building, which occupies a highly visible position overlooking Bangor, gave the college its Welsh nickname Y Coleg ar y Bryn ("The College on the Hill"). It included the large Prichard-Jones Hall, named after Sir John Prichard-Jones a local man who became a partner in the London department store Dickins & Jones, and was a substantial benefactor of the building.[2] The building became a Grade I listed building in 1949.[51]

A modern extension, completing a quadrangle on the College Road side of the building, was completed in 1969. This is now known as the Main Arts Building.

Halls of residence

The redbrick University Hall, built in a Queen Anne style, was the first substantial block. It was opened in 1897.[52] This building was to become the Welsh-language hall Neuadd John Morris-Jones in 1974, taking its name in honour of Professor John Morris Jones.[2] It is now called Neuadd Rathbone.

Neuadd Reichel, built on the Ffriddoedd Farm site, was designed in a neo-Georgian style by the architect Percy Thomas and was opened in 1942 as a hostel for male students.[2][52]

Expansion in the 1960s led to the development of Plas Gwyn in 1963–64 and Neuadd Emrys Evans in 1965, both on the Ffriddoedd site, and Neuadd Rathbone at the top of Love Lane in 1965.[2] Neuadd Rathbone, designed by Colwyn Foulkes and named after the second President of the college, was originally for women students only.[52] The names of Neuadd Rathbone and Neuadd John Morris-Jones were later exchanged. The building originally opened as Neuadd Rathbone is now known as Neuadd Garth.

Accommodation is guaranteed for all first-year undergraduate students at Bangor. There are around 3,000 rooms available in halls of residence, and all the accommodation is within walking distance of the university. There are three residential sites in current use; Ffriddoedd Village, St Mary's Village and Neuadd Garth.

Ffriddoedd Village

The largest accommodation site is the Friddoedd Village in Upper Bangor, about ten minutes' walk from Top College, the Science Site and the city centre. This site has eleven en-suite halls completed in 2009, six other en-suite halls built in the 1990s and Neuadd Reichel built in the 1940s, and renovated in 2011.

Two of the en-suite halls, Bryn Dinas and Tegfan, now incorporate the new Neuadd John Morris-Jones, which started its life in 1974 on College Road and has, along with its equivalent Neuadd Pantycelyn in Aberystwyth, became a focal point of Welsh-language activities at the university. It is an integral part of UMCB, the Welsh Students' Union, which in turn is part of the main Students' Union.

The halls on "Ffridd" ("Ffridd" [friːð] is the Welsh word for mountain pasture or sheep path; "ffriddoedd" [ˈfrɪðɔið] is its plural form) include Cefn y Coed, Glyder, Borth, Elidir, J.M.J. Bryn Dinas and J.M.J. Tegfan, all of which were built in the early 1990s; Adda, Alaw, Braint, Crafnant, Enlli, Peris, Glaslyn, Llanddwyn, Ffraw, Idwal and Gwynant, which were all built in the late 2000s; and Neuadd Reichel which was built in the 1940s and renovated in 2011.

St Mary's Village

Bryn Eithin overlooks the centre of Bangor and is close to the Science Departments and the Schools of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering. Demolition of the former St Mary's Site halls, with the exception of the 1902 buildings and the Quadrangle, began in 2014 to make way for new halls which were completed in 2015. The halls on this site are Cybi, Penmon, and Cemlyn which are all self-catered flats, Tudno which is a townhouse complex, and the original St. Mary's building, with studios and flats.[53]

In Welsh "Bryn" means "hill" and "Eithin" means "gorse".

College Road

College Road has one hall, Neuadd Garth (formerly Neuadd John Morris Jones, before that Neuadd Rathbone), which is a self-catering hall. The site is located close to the Main Arts building in Upper Bangor. Neuadd Garth, after undergoing refurbishment in 2012–13, is now home to postgraduate students.

Neuadd Rathbone (formerly Neuadd John Morris Jones, before that University Hall), which is located on the site, was previously a hall of residence.

Private halls

A private hall of residence called Ty Willis House (formerly known as Neuadd Willis) is operated by iQ Student Accommodation; which incorporates the old listed British Hotel with a new extension to the rear, and a further hall on the site of the old Plaza Cinema. Other privately owned halls of residence in Bangor include Neuadd Kyffin, Neuadd Y Castell, Neuadd Llys Y Deon and Neuadd Ty Ni.

Students union

Undeb Bangor is Bangor University's Students' Union and was relocated to the brand new Arts and Innovation centre, Pontio, in 2016. Pontio includes a theatre, a cinema, a studio theatre and social facilities including the Undeb on the 4th floor.

The former Students' Union building was situated on Deiniol Road at one end of College Park below the Main Arts building. The Refectory and Curved Lounge were built in 1963[54] and the main administrative building was added in 1969. The building was known as Steve Biko House from the 1970s to the early 1990s,[2][55] after Steve Biko. The buildings were renovated in 1997 to create an 1,100-capacity nightclub, Amser/Time, where the previous refectory space was. Demolition of the Union buildings and Theatr Gwynedd began in July 2010.[56]

When the original Students' Union building was demolished, the Students' Union was relocated to Oswalds on Victoria Drive, before moving back to its original location on Deiniol Road in 2016.


The Academic Activities of Bangor University are grouped into three colleges:

College of Arts, Humanities and Business
  • Bangor Business School
  • School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences
  • School of Language, Literatures and Linguistics
  • School of Law
  • School of Music and Media
  • School of Welsh and Celtic Studies
  • Centre for Research on Bilingualism
College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
  • School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering
  • School of Natural Sciences
  • School of Ocean Sciences
  • The BioComposites Centre
College of Human Sciences
  • School of Education and Human Development
  • School of Health Sciences
  • School of Medical Sciences
  • School of Psychology
  • School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences

Academic profile


The university's research expertise in the areas of materials science and predictive modelling was enhanced during 2017 through a collaboration with Imperial College London and the formation of the Nuclear Futures Institute at Bangor with the award of £6.5m in funding under the Welsh Government's Ser Cymru programme.[57]

The university-owned £20m Science Park on Anglesey, M-Sparc was completed in March 2018, which will support the development of the region's low carbon energy sector.[58][59][60][61][62][63]


National rankings
Complete (2020)[64]83
Guardian (2020)[65]63
Times / Sunday Times (2020)[66]70
Global rankings
ARWU (2018)[67]501–600
CWTS Leiden (2019)[68]252
QS (2020)[69]
THE (2020)[70]401–500
British Government assessment
Teaching Excellence Framework[71]Gold

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework recognised that more than three quarters of Bangor's research is either world-leading or internationally excellent. Based on the university submission of 14 Units of Assessment, 77% of the research was rated in the top two tiers of research quality, ahead of the average for all UK universities.[72]

In 2017, Bangor University became the only university in Wales to be rated 'Gold' by the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which means that the university is deemed to be of the highest quality found in the UK, providing "consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students."[73][74]

In recent years, Bangor has been rated highly by its students in two independent surveys of student opinion. In the National Student Survey, the university has been consistently ranked highly both within Wales and in the UK higher education sector.[75] In 2017, Bangor University's students placed the university eighth among the UK's non-specialist universities and second among Welsh Universities.[76]

For the second year in a row Bangor was awarded Best University in the UK for Clubs and Societies at the 2018 WhatUni Student Choice Awards. It also regained the award for best Student Accommodation which they originally won in 2016. The university was also placed second overall for 'Courses and Lecturers' and retained third place in the category 'University of the Year'. WhatUni award nominations are based on the reviews and opinions of the university's own students. This is the fourth year in a row that Bangor University has won a national WhatUni Award.[77][78]

Student life

Students' union

The students' union provides services, support, activities and entertainment for students. All Bangor University students automatically become members of the students' union unless they choose to opt out. As with most if not all students' unions, a yearly election takes place in which a number of sabbatical officers are elected. These sabbatical officers are held accountable for the actions and decisions of the union, and often work closely with members of the Student Representative Council and other boards.

In January 2016 Bangor Students' Union moved into the new Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre, Deiniol Road, Bangor. The New Student Centre provides students with free Sports and Societies, as well as the chance to become a course rep.


The Students' Union offers more than 600 volunteering opportunities in 35 community-based projects, contributing a total of 600 hours to volunteering each week.

There is a long tradition of student volunteering in Bangor. The oldest records available detail the organisation of a tea party for local elderly residents in 1952. The Tea Party project continues to run to this day and is SVB's oldest project.

In October 2012 Student Volunteering Bangor was awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Bangor RAG (Raising and Giving) is a Student Volunteering Bangor project. The committee is made up of two coordinators and a number of committee members, plus several hundred "raggies". RAG collects money for two local and two national charities, which change every academic year and are chosen by the students. RAG members also regularly attend "raids" across the country and assist charities with one-off events throughout the year. Their mascot is a tiger named Rhodri RAG. In 1968, raggies surepticiously carved a panda (then the RAG mascot) and the letters 'UCNW' into a chalk hillside in Wiltshire, causing considerable puzzlement in England.

Clubs and societies

There are more than 90 societies and over 50 sports clubs, ranging from academic societies to almost every sport imaginable. Notable sports include football (Bangor University F.C.), rowing (Bangor University Rowing Club), ultimate frisbee (Bangor University Ultimate Frisbee Club), and fencing (Bangor University Fencing Club).

Student newspaper

Y Seren is the official English language student newspaper for Bangor University. Seren provides coverage for important student events such as the sabbatical officer elections and the annual Varsity sports competition. The newspaper is delivered monthly to the Ffriddoedd and St Mary's Villages, as well as to University buildings and local businesses. Seren also has a website, where every issue is archived. The newspaper's offices are located in the Pontio Arts Centre building.

Student radio

Storm FM is the official student radio station for Bangor University and is one of only three student radio stations in the UK with a long-term FM licence. The station is broadcast on 87.7FM from a low-powered FM transmitter based on the Ffriddoedd Site. The FM licence allows for broadcast to a very small area of Bangor, namely the Ffriddoed Road Halls of Residence. Storm FM went online in 2009.[79]


In 2012, Bangor University topped a league table of student sex with undergraduates stating to have had an average number of 8.31 partners since starting university.[80]

Notable people associated with Bangor


Vice Chancellors

The university has had seven Principals/Vice-Chancellors:

Notable academics

Notable alumni

Paul Cornelius Marine biologist

Fictional alumni

See also


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Further reading

  • Clarke, M. L. (1966) Architectural History & Guide (University College of North Wales, Bangor); Online (Bangor Civic Society)
  • Roberts, David (2009) Bangor University, 1884–2009. Cardiff: University of Wales Press ISBN 0-7083-2226-3
  • Williams, J. Gwynn (1985) The University College of North Wales – Foundations 1884–1927. Cardiff: University of Wales Press ISBN 0-7083-0893-7
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