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Overview of the University


The University of Exeter combines world-class research with excellent student satisfaction, from our campuses in the South West of England, in Exeter and Cornwall. We are one of the very few universities to be both a member of the Russell Group and have a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), evidence of our established international reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. Our success is built on a strong partnership with our students and a clear focus on high performance.

Changing lives through education since 1851

The University of Exeter has been dedicated to discovery and changing lives through education since 1851 when the Exeter Schools of Art and Science were founded. In 1922 we became the University College of the South West, receiving our Charter in 1955, achieving full university status and becoming the University of Exeter.

The University was joined in 1978 by St Luke’s College of Education (est. 1840) and in 2004 we opened the Penryn Campus, expanding the provision of higher education in Cornwall. Today, we’re a member of the Russell Group, recognised for both our research and teaching excellence.

You can learn more about our history on our dedicated pages.

Global Exeter

The University has over 25,000 students from 130 countries and over 125,000 alumni in 183 countries providing our academic community of staff, students and visiting researchers with a truly global experience and a diverse, inclusive environment. Our strategic partnerships across the world bring together leading academics and the resources of outstanding universities to deliver transformative impact in key global challenges such as global sustainability and wellbeing.

Research Excellence

Our research is at the heart of what we do and is making a difference across the world. We unite expertise from across our academic disciplines, breaking down barriers to create innovative solutions to complex, global challenges.

Recent breakthroughs to come out of the University of Exeter’s research include using drone surveys and computer modelling to plot extreme arctic erosion, improving diagnosis and treatment for cancer and diabetes (for which we were awarded a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize) and developing a 7-point plan to battle the climate emergency via economic reform. Our scientists and clinicians are also part of a £20 million investment to battle the spread of coronavirus utilising the University’s state-of-the-art equipment to sequence the virus from Devon patients to help combat the disease.

Student satisfaction

The University of Exeter has always been among the leaders for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey. The senior management team has sought to build on this strength by putting student service at the centre of its strategy. The Students' Guild (Exeter Campuses) and the Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union (Penryn Campus, Cornwall) are involved at the earliest stages of strategic planning and given a major role in making spending decisions through a specially created Budget Scrutiny Group. This has led to a remarkable degree of joint thinking and team work.

Outstanding facilities

We have excellent teaching and research facilities and laboratories for science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine, as well as humanities and science across all of our campuses. These include the Environment and Sustainability Institute at our Penryn Campus, the Living Systems Institute and Digital Humanities Lab at our Streatham Campus, and the Research, Innovation, Learning and Development Centre (RILD) at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, near our St Luke’s Campus.

The University of Exeter in Cornwall

Key to our success are our two Cornwall campuses: the Truro Campus and the Knowledge Spa on the Royal Cornwall Hospital site, and the Penryn Campus where some of the world’s biggest challenges relating to the environment, health and sustainability are tackled. Our Truro Campus is a base for a proportion of students from the University’s College of Medicine and Health, as well as the European Centre for Environment and Human Health. On our Penryn Campus, investments to the Science and Engineering Research Support Facility (SERSF) and the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) put not only the University, but also Cornwall as a whole, at the forefront of research aiming to solve problems associated with environmental change. This commitment to sustainability underpins our ethos and recurs throughout our degree programmes as well as in student societies, clubs and the running of the campus.

Our Penryn Campus currently supports around 6,000 students. It offers a close-knit friendly community, in an arrangement that is unique as the campus is shared with Falmouth University; a leading specialist arts institution. This combination creates a vibrant community of students and academics from science, engineering, humanities and arts backgrounds.

University of Exeter Sport

We believe that sport is an important part of the student experience and this is reflected in our investment of over £25 million during the last decade in the highest quality training environments, resources and services for the development, coaching and playing of sport making us home to some of the best sports facilities in UK universities. We’re the number 1 sports university in the South of England and Wales and consistently finish top 10 in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) rankings each year.

The Sports Park at our Streatham Campus includes our Athlete Development Centre, all weather pitches, Cricket, Golf and Tennis Centres as well as the Russell Seal Fitness Centre and beautiful outdoor swimming pool.  Our St Luke’s indoor pool provides opportunities for children in the local community to learn to swim at the St Luke’s Swim School and students also benefit from a gym on the campus. Students based in Exeter also have access to a range of facilities off-site such as the Boathouse and sports grounds. Students at our Penryn Campus have access to a range of excellent facilities including a 90-station gym, outdoor gym equipment, sports hall and all-weather multi-use games area.