University Experience

A gold-standard experience

We are committed to empowering the next generation of game-changers, offering a gold-standard experience where talent can flourish, and lifelong memories are made.

The University was awarded Gold in the prestigious Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2023, recognising our commitment to delivering an outstanding student experience and student outcomes. This award would simply not be possible without the incredibly supportive culture we have here at Derby, both inside and outside the classroom.

An inclusive sports community

Striving for excellence

Our aim is to create an unrivalled University experience, filled with transformative opportunities that equip students with essential life skills and practical industry knowledge. We focus on the holistic development of students, providing opportunities that not only support their education, but also their mental health and personal wellbeing. From day one, we offer the tools with which to build a successful future.

icon1,048 student athletes competed in the British Universities and Colleges Sport leagueFinished in 44th position
iconTop 20 for assessment and feedbackNational Student Survey 2023
icon£70 million funding securedNew Business School coming 2025

International trips

Las Vegas

Going to university is about so much more than achieving an excellent degree. It is about enjoying once-in-a-lifetime experiences – such as a month-long visit to Las Vegas, which is what our School of Arts students had the opportunity to do in February 2023.  

The main purpose of this excursion was to strengthen our creative links with Nevada State College and to allow our students to engage in a new creative landscape and culture. 

During their stay in the US, students attended a range of events and study outings which included Villa Anita DV, a creative residential project in Tecopa, California and Avi Kwa Ame, a land protection programme in Southern Nevada which is supported by President Joe Biden.  

Dr Gemma Marmalade, Assistant Head of Discipline for Art and Photography said: “At the University of Derby we value opportunities to provide real world experiences for our students wherever possible. It is my privilege to share such life-changing experiences with our students and the incredible friendships we have made along the journey together.” 

This trip has a special dual purpose. Dr Marmalade was formally recognised as an Honorary Professor of the Arts by Nevada State College. A tree of friendship was then planted to celebrate and symbolise the University’s growing alliance with the Las Vegas organisation. 

A group of people sitting under a decorated ironwork frame
School of Arts students on their trip to Nevada

Costa Rica

After a long journey across the Atlantic, a group of our MSc Conservation Biology students touched down in Costa Rica for an unforgettable 10-day adventure.  

Focused on gaining a deeper understanding of conservation efforts, the team headed to Bijagual Ecological Reserve to explore and observe a wide variety of habitats and biodiversity. Founded twenty years ago, the reserve’s aim is to protect and investigate the rainforest and to facilitate environmental education. 

Under the expert guidance of Anne Danby, Course Director and Joana Carvalho, Lecturer in Spatial Ecology and Bioscience, all students had the freedom to choose an area of research and conduct a small independent project. At the University, we place significant emphasis on providing students with practical learning experiences that are enriched with personal development opportunities. 

During this jam-packed excursion, students also took a guided tour of Los Quetzales National Park, the cloud forest at Mirador de Quetzales, and stopped off at Frog Heaven (which is as awesome as it sounds).  

International fieldtrips, such as this one, support our valuable research and help us to form meaningful global partnerships. Both allow us to build a stronger, safer and more sustainable future for everyone. 

A student in Costa Rica
Adventures in Costa Rica


Staying active

Sport is central to university life, not only for our students, but for staff and the local community who use our facilities. Every year we invest more and more into our campus so we can continue to deliver a state-of-the-art sporting experience where our users have access to the latest technology. 

In August 2023, our fitness suite was upgraded in collaboration with Matrix, a leading provider in strength and group training equipment. This multi-million-pound refurbishment saw an increase in the number of cardio and resistance machines and allowed us to introduce larger free weights to aid elite performers.  

Speaking of such talent, 1,048 student athletes took part in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league achieving 1,188.5 points. As a result, we ended the 2022-23 academic year in 44th position which is a fantastic victory. Some notable highlights include a gold trophy in team snooker, two gold medals in the men’s 8-ball pool and a bronze medal in women’s doubles badminton. 

At the University we are proud to offer a varied and accessible sports programme that is designed to fit around our staff and students’ busy lives. We recorded an incredible 56,529 sport-related participations from 3,265 students and staff. The vast majority of these (46,719) were from using the fitness suite, while 4,731 can be attributed to gym classes. We also accumulated over 600 hours of volunteering which translates into the delivery of high-quality initiatives to support the overall student experience.

Accolades and awards

National Student Survey 2023

The National Student Survey (NSS) is an annual, high-profile survey which measures our quality and effectiveness in various aspects of university life, although is predominantly centred around teaching. It is completed by students and aims to gather their opinions which in turn, help to position the University as a first-choice destination for prospective students.  

We place our students at the heart of everything we do so here in Derby, the release of NSS is hotly anticipated by all professional and academic staff.  

In August 2023, we were all delighted to learn that the University was named in the top 20 for assessment and feedback and top 20% nationally for student voice. In addition, 33 individual programmes at Derby were rated positively for teaching quality by 90% or more students on that course.  

All subject areas received some incredibly positive results, but one of the headlines which undoubtably deserves a mention is History. For all five survey measures, History was in the Top 3 out of 91 other higher education providers. 

Professor Keith McLay, Provost (Learning & Teaching) said: “We are performing above the sector benchmark in almost every area, which is something our staff, students and alumni should be very proud of.” 

Some changes were made to the 2023 survey, most notably, this was the first time it did not include an overall satisfaction score. Nevertheless, these achievements are a true testament to the dedication of staff and demonstrate our passion for supporting students and their future goals.

Global Student Living Awards 2022

Halls of residence are known to be the heart of the community where students socialise, study and enjoy the independence of university life. Our fantastic Student Living team go above and beyond to create a safe, happy, clean and modern environment where our students can thrive and in November 2022, these efforts were officially recognised with two Global Student Living Awards. 

The University of Derby achieved Best University Housing and Best Moving In Experience in the UK and Ireland.  

Based exclusively on direct feedback from over 65,000 students at universities and colleges across the UK and Europe, these awards are similar to the NSS in that the results unequivocally represent the hard work that goes into delivering an outstanding experience.  

Commenting on the success, Steve Ward, Head of Accommodation Services said: “Best University Housing is the flagship award and covers all aspects of the services we provide, so to win this is a fantastic achievement for our teams. In addition, winning Best Moving In Experience is a real testament to the positive changes we implemented during the pandemic.” 

Accommodation Services is on a positive trajectory, and the University recently scooped Best University House and Best Environmental Management in the 2023 awards, which took place in October 2023.

Students chatting in their room
Award-winning halls of residence

Campus improvements

Derby Business School

From securing £70 million funding to breaking the ground, this last academic year has seen many significant milestones for our newest and most exciting investment.  

Derby Business School forms part of our long-term strategy and wider promise to support entrepreneurial growth and connectivity in the city. It proposes to be net zero in its construction and operation which makes this a particularly influential project for the region.   

Following a competitive funding process, £70 million was secured – half of which has already been received with the remainder due by the end of 2023. Thanks to this Kier, our chosen construction company, have been able to break new ground and start to build the vast foundation for this new structure.  

The occasion was marked on Friday 9 June 2023 with a special ceremony attended by the University’s Chancellor Lord Burlington DL, academic colleagues, and representatives from both Kier and Derby City Council. 

The irony is that breaking new ground is ground-breaking for many reasons, as explained by Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby: “The state-of-the-art facilities will not only enable the University to extend its opportunities to undertake innovative and impactful research, but will also enable staff to deliver experiential learning and teaching through co-location and co-creation with businesses, and will become the front door of the University for the business and wider community.” 

A group of people in high vis jackets, some holding spades



Graduation is always a special occasion full of joy and celebration, and the 2023 summer ceremonies were no exception. Thousands of students graduated across eight ceremonies between 19 – 21 July at Derby Arena. During the formal proceedings, we acknowledged their valuable contributions to the University and awarded their educational achievements in front of their families and supporters.  

Our impressive list of honorands were selected because of their extraordinary connection to Derby and Derbyshire. This year they included: 

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “Graduation is a wonderful opportunity for the University community to come together to recognise and celebrate the hard work and achievements of our students. I am delighted that we can also take this opportunity to recognise individuals who have made an impact in the University, city and county through industry and academic partnerships, championing disability rights and raising our region’s profile.” 

The University of Derby’s Buxton Awards Ceremony took place in November 2022 at the Devonshire Dome in Buxton, with Sue Johnson as the honorary graduate. She was chosen for her contribution to radiography and her achievements in widening participation in the profession.

Three people in graduation gowns and caps

Open Days

Our undergraduate Open Days remain the biggest and best events in the university calendar, with months of preparation going into the delivery of each one. Over the year, we have enjoyed welcoming guests back to campus for an in-person experience, waving goodbye to the last of the Covid-19 restrictions.  

There have been some operational changes made to the format of the day to provide prospective students and their families with a more personalised experience.  

We have introduced a welcome talk at Markeaton Street (MS) which is tailored to those interested in STEM, art and design, music, journalism, film or photography. This is in addition to the welcome talk at Kedleston Road (KR) which has been moved out of the atrium and into one of our large lecture theatres. Not only does this mean that all guests have the option to be seated, but they catch an opening glimpse at the excellent standard of our teaching facilities which sets the tone for the day.  

Both morning welcome talks at MS and KR are now repeated in the afternoon allowing us to stagger the entry times and accommodate more people on campus. Doing this also gives our guests greater freedom regarding their travel arrangements.  

From a marketing perspective and following the rebrand of our prospectus, the Open Day guide has now a matching white and gold aesthetic which ties together our undergraduate campaign.  

University of Derby Open Day