University students socialising

Why Portsmouth?

The University

Our roots go back to 1869 – we have grown in size and strength creating and sharing success with our students, staff, community and society.

Images of University buildings old and new

star Facts & Figures

  • We are one of only four universities in the south east to receive the highest 'Gold' rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework – a Government scheme that recognises excellent teaching in UK universities.
  • We are the 37th best University in the UK, according to the Guardian University Guide 2018.
  • Outranking the sector average for the 11th year in a row, we achieved an 88% satisfaction rate in the National Student Survey 2017. 19 of our courses achieved 100% satisfaction.
  • We are one of the world's top 100 new universities in the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2017.
  • Our performance indicators show that 96.5% of our graduates are working or in further study within six months of graduation.
  • The percentage of our graduates in professional/managerial level roles has increased by 3% to 75%, which means Portsmouth is above the sector average in the UK.
  • Portsmouth graduates earn more than the sector average. Six months after completing an undergraduate course, a Portsmouth graduate’s average salary is £23,500.
  • We have a population of more than 25,000 students and 2,500 full-time equivalent staff.
  • We have more than 5,000 international and EU students from almost 150 different countries.
  • 45% of our students are female and 55% are male.
  • We provide £5.9 million a year in bursaries and hardship funds for our students.
  • 89% of our research in Physics and 90% of our research in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in REF2014.
  • We have invested around£150 million in our buildings and resources over the last 10 years.

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Book Our History

  • 1908

    In 1908 the Park building opened as a Municipal college and public library. The focus was on chemistry and engineering. The roots of the University can be traced back even further to the Portsmouth and Gosport School of Science and the Arts.

    Old black and white photo of a crowd
  • 1911

    By 1911 a Student Union was established. We know this from the earliest record of the Student Union newspaper The Galleon.

    Front cover of the Galleon newspaper
  • 1945 to 1960

    The college diversified its syllabus adding arts and humanities subjects after World War 2, in response to a decline in the need for engineering skills.

    Black and white photo of College of Arts building
  • 1960 to 1970

    In 1969 the college was renamed Portsmouth Polytechnic. The Milldam building was purchased. It had been used as a gathering space for local militia as far back as the Napoleonic Wars.

    Portsmouth Polytechnic logo
  • 1970 to 1980

    Work began on Frewen Library in 1977. This is now the University library. It officially opened in 1980.

    Aerial shot of Frewen Library at night
  • 1980 to 1990

    By the late 80s, Portsmouth Polytechnic had become one of the largest and best performing polytechnics in the UK.

    University of Portsmouth history 1980s to 1990
  • 1990 to 1995

    Portsmouth Polytechnic was granted university status, becoming the University of Portsmouth on 7 July 1992.

    University of Portsmouth Crest
  • 1995 to 2000

    1997 Professor John Craven joins the University as Vice Chancellor.

    University VC John Craven
  • 2000

    St Paul’s Sports Centre opens.

    St Paul's Sports Centre
  • 2001

    Margaret Rule Halls of Residence opens.

    Margaret Rule Halls
  • 2002

    The Student Centre opens after the closure of Alexandra House, our old Students’ Union on Museum Road and Trafalgar Halls of Residence opens.

    Students' Union
  • 2003

    James Watson Halls of Residence and Spinnaker Sports Centre open.

    James Watson Halls
  • 2004

    Richmond Building opens and the Portsmouth Business School relocates from its former home on the Milton campus which closed down

    Richmond Building
  • 2007

    Spinnaker Building opens – a purpose built building for our Department of Sport and Exercise Science

    Spinnaker Building
  • 2007

    An £11 million expansion of the University Library is completed opened in January 2007 by crime author PD James. In the same year, Sheila Hancock OBE was appointed Chancellor of the University for a five-year term.

    University Library Expansion
  • 2009

    The Dennis Sciama Building opened, a purpose-built teaching and research building and currently home to our Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation.

    Dennis Sciama Building
  • 2010

    The School of Law opens a courtroom, used to provide law students with a real experience of working in a courtroom.

    Two judges in the mock courtroom
  • 2010

    Improvements carried out to Milldam Nursery and Third Space opens, an area for student study and leisure. Extension to William Beatty accommodates dental students from our partnership with King’s College London

    Two Dental students working on a patient
  • 2011

    William Beatty Building opens – a purpose built dental building for professions related to dentistry.

    William Beatty Building
  • 2012

    Writer, comedian and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig is installed as Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth.

    Sandy Toksvig
  • 2013

    Professor Graham Galbraith joined the University as Vice Chancellor.

    Professor Graham Galbraith
  • 2014

    New wing of the University’s Eldon Building officially opens after £14 million investment. New facilities for the creative arts included a 200-seat cinema-quality screening room, large seminar rooms, and creative studios.

    University of Portsmouth, CCI, Eldon Buiding
  • 2015

    The White Swan Building opens, an extension to the New Theatre Royal, giving new learning and performance space for students. Other developments include the opening of the Forensic Innovation Centre, a joint initiative between the University and Hampshire Constabulary, and the purchase of Portsmouth Technopole to support entrepreneurship and businesses in the region.

    White Swan Building, part of the Creative and Cultural Industries Faculty, University of Portsmouth.

View the interactive timeline on Tiki-Toki

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spinnaker The University in the City

The University is at the heart of Portsmouth and we have a strong commitment to our regional community, and particularly to the city, embedded in our strategy. This commitment is longstanding, at least since the opening of the Municipal College in 1908. Our economic, social and cultural contributions range from being one of the largest employers in the city, to the value our highly skilled graduates add in professional roles in our schools, health and justice services, businesses, local authorities and charities.

Some contributions have a measurable economic impact: we have invested around £150 million in buildings and resources in the last decade and our 25,000+ students study, live and spend in the city. Other work adds benefits in different ways, such as: improving the city environment by sharing expertise in urban design; students volunteering in local charities, schools and hospitals; encouraging enterprise and innovation and promoting a greater public understanding of science through lectures, schools visits, events and press comment.

Brush UP with the Dental Academy

Students at the Dental Academy have been targeting hard to reach patients, including children and older people, by participating in community-based projects. Portsmouth has large unmet dental care needs, with half of all children having decayed teeth by the time they start school.

So far, 17 schools and nurseries are running the Academy’s supervised tooth brushing programme, Brush UP. Students are also applying fluoride varnish to children at local primary schools and offering advice at care homes, children’s groups, probation centres and alcohol and drug detoxification centres.

Dental Academy student inspecting teeth

Key Facts

We meet more than 11,000 local pupils and parents annually through our education liaison and aspiration-raising activities.

Our dental services provide NHS dental care to more than 2,500 local people every year. In 2016/17 our students spent over 54,000 hours volunteering in and around the community.

Annually, we receive over 3,000 bookings for our conference and accommodation facilities, earning more than £2.2 million per year and bringing many new visitors to the city.

The economic impact of the University of Portsmouth – July 2017 pdf 504kb

This report describes and quantifies the economic benefits of the University of Portsmouth to the Portsmouth, Solent and UK economies.


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starEquality and sustainability

Equality and Diversity

The University of Portsmouth prides itself on being an inclusive environment for staff and students. We have a diverse student population from over 120 countries. Equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of all University activity. We work proactively to support all staff and students ensuring we offer a fair and inclusive working and learning environment where all can meet their full potential.

Organisations we work with include:

  • Stonewall - A lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) Charity that supports us in delivering an inclusive environment for LGB staff and students.
  • Mindful Employer - supporting organisations in being positive around mental health.
  • Disabled Go - providing indepth information on accessibility of University buildings.
  • Athena Swan Charter - Supporting organisations in the advancement and promotion of careers for women in the disciplines of science, engineering and technology in both higher education and research.
  • Armed Forces Covenant - ensuring that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

Group of students

Green Portsmouth

We are determined to create a low-carbon future. We do this by inspiring and motivating staff and students to commit to be mindful of environmental sustainability in all they do. Initiatives to support this ambition include the management of the University’s energy consumption, recycling and waste management, a ‘green building challenge’, sustainable construction projects, a procurement code of practice and a travel plan.

The University of Portsmouth Environment Network (UPEN) was established in 2010 to coordinate the broad range of environmentally related teaching and research from across the University.

Student getting on a University bus

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building Investing in your future

Future Technology Centre

Future Technology Centre University of Portsmouth
Future Technology Centre

This £11m centre is an exciting new space for the next generation of engineers, scientists and designers. Launching this year, the centre will house the latest simulation, visualisation and modelling equipment.

New Halls of Residence

Greetham Street Halls

With new halls opening in 2016 and 2017, we’re increasing the accommodation options for our students. These halls will be centrally located and within walking distance of the city centre and main University buildings.

New Theatre Royal extension

Artist rendition of new Theatre Royal
New Theatre Royal

The White Swan Building is an extension of the city’s New Theatre Royal. It houses a new studio theatre, as well as TV studio and gallery, several music practice rooms and more teaching and drama studio space. It also means our students study alongside an active theatre.

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