More Than Our Rank

The University of Derby champions research, innovation and social mobility, and is committed to raising aspirations and improving the education, skills, health and wellbeing of current and future generations across Derbyshire. We make a difference, impacting individual lives and communities and informing social and economic change around the world and at home. We are committed to the use of responsible metrics, Open Access and equitable forms of research assessment, including governance and research integrity

At the heart of university life is the imperative to create new knowledge, innovation and understanding and we are clear in our vision that we achieve this through three critical priorities: moulding the next generation of game changers; being a force for positive impact; and opening doors for everyone. 

We are delighted to be an early adopter of INORMS’s More Than Our Rank initiative. We are proud of Derby’s performance in national league tables, but are equally proud that we have far more to offer than is currently captured by these rankings. 

Excellence and solutions in innovation and research 

At the University of Derby, everything we do is driven by delivering excellence and opportunities for our students, staff and region. We have renowned expertise for applied, industry-relevant research across our six academic themes

Derby is proud of our Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 results, which recognised the University’s world-leading and internationally excellent research, with particular strengths in computer science, social work and social policy, environmental sciences and art and design. Our reputation for impact was also highlighted in our 27 impact case studies, many of which were recognised as being ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ for their contribution. 

In our Institute of Education, research commissioned by the Department for Education has helped deliver more inclusive and socially just support for children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND), underpinning national policy. Our Education submission to REF 2021 also achieved national-level policy impact across the areas of Technical and Vocational Education and Training and our International Centre for Guidance Studies. 

Across the East Midlands, researchers in our Solar Energy Cluster are working closely with Lincolnshire County Council to assess the design, deployment, operation, maintenance and end-of-life recycling of large (>100MW) solar PV fields. This is just one example of how our Zero Carbon academic theme is making a practical difference in our region.  

Dedication to public engagement and partnerships 

Operating under the umbrella of our Civic University Agreement (2022), our distinctive public engagement strategy has been awarded an NCCPE Bronze Watermark Award, evidencing our excellence and future-focused commitment to public and community engagement. 

A focus of the University’s engagement locally is to alleviate inequality and promote opportunities for social mobility, aligning nationally with Levelling Up policy and The Purpose Coalition. S.H.E.D was developed in 2019, exemplifying co-production in practice, and it has stimulated creative opportunities for over 700 creatives and 500 young people beyond the University. 

In September 2022, the University of Derby, together with Rolls-Royce, opened the Nuclear Skills Academy. The Academy is the first of its kind and aims to sustain nuclear capability within the UK’s submarines programme by creating a dedicated pipeline of talent – recruiting 200 apprentices each year – at the start of their careers. 

Supporting student success through teaching and learning 

The University of Derby has a strong reputation for teaching excellence. We are an anchor institution, with a central commitment to social mobility, providing high-quality education through an engaging and flexible delivery model excelling in professional and industry-focused programmes that support practical, meaningful learning experiences and employability. 

We are proud of the work done by initiatives such as the Student Legal Advice Centre (SLAC). Students must volunteer at SLAC as part of the undergraduate Clinical Legal Skills module. The Centre aims to bridge a gap given the significant reduction in legal aid availability, engaging with community needs that cannot be met elsewhere.  

We are also proud of our established reputation for performing well in the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), where the University is recognised as ‘Very Highly Engaged’ for local growth and regeneration. This is illustrated by the collaborative research, innovation and business support we have provided for over 2,000 SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in our region over the last six years. 

The city of Derby has also achieved the status of UNESCO Learning City in recognition of its outstanding efforts to make lifelong learning a reality for all people within the city, working in partnership with Derby City Council, Derby Community Trust and the Derby Priority Area.  

People, experience and culture 

No ranking can capture the culture and sense of community that students and staff experience at Derby. Our community comprises over 20,000 students and more than 3,500 staff from 164 different countries. 

We were recently ranked in Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers for the first time. Compiled by Stonewall, Europe’s largest charity for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer rights, the list recognises employers who support LGBTQ+ employees to be themselves at work. We were also awarded the Stonewall Gold Employer Award for the second year running, and Derby also holds a bronze institutional Athena Swan Award, demonstrating our commitment to promoting gender equality.  

An applied university of today and for tomorrow 

This work emphasises our commitment to social mobility, skills and meaningful partnerships: these are key strategic priorities within our 2021-2030 strategic framework as "an applied university of today and for tomorrow". We are proud of the impact that our work has across the University, city, county and wider world. 

The University of Derby is an institution that inspires people to fulfil their potential and thrive and, as this brief snapshot of our activity shows, we are much more than our rank.