The final phase of Ulster University’s enhanced Belfast campus will open its doors to new and returning students and staff as the new academic year gets underway on 19 September.
Taking its architectural design inspiration from the shape of the surrounding Belfast hills, the new 75,000m2 addition to the campus is one of the largest higher education capital builds in Europe and is set to transform higher education in the city.
In September 2021, the university began to welcome staff and students to the first of the new blocks within this inspiring city centre space, following the launch of the first phase of the redevelopment which saw Ulster University’s founding art school and its historical, creative heart be the first to occupy the enhanced campus.
Regeneration and social impact
Ulster University plays a vital role in the economic development of local communities at campuses across Northern Ireland. The enhanced Belfast campus supports the ambitions for North Belfast as well as the wider city and region, with an estimated investment regeneration impact of circa £1.4bn.
Reflecting Ulster University’s commitment to social mobility, civic engagement, and shaping career potential, the equivalent of over 100 years of training, apprenticeships and placement opportunities have already been provided during the construction phase. Social clauses included in the contract as a condition of the build programme focused on supporting the long-term unemployed, student work placements, and apprenticeships in areas such as mechanical and electrical work, quantity surveying, procurement and supply chain management, accountancy, construction and administration.
Speaking ahead of the start of the academic year, Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Bartholomew said:
“Our new campus will foster creative talent, scientific expertise and enquiry, engineering innovation and entrepreneurial drive all under one roof, and marks a milestone for those who study with us, work with us and partner with us. It drives forward a reimagining of the teaching and learning experience that is deployed across all our campuses, including recent enhancements first introduced at Magee and Coleraine, accelerating innovation in how we do things and ensuring implementation of best practice.
“It’s a campus where our students will fulfil their potential and thrive, with the opportunity to learn and study in a style that suits them, supported by the very latest technology and facilities. It also offers our staff a quality and vibrant place to work, connected to the social, artistic, residential and business community in the area.
“Our campus was one of the few building projects to have remained operational throughout the COVID- 19 pandemic, underlining the tremendous, shared commitment to deliver this project for the incoming academic year. The Belfast campus development has been a huge team effort since its inception and never more so than in these last few months. I want to pay tribute to the dedication and effort of the architects, contractors, countless skilled craftspeople and tradespeople, and the very many colleagues who have worked tirelessly over the years to bring this transformational campus to fruition. Their collective vision, skill and effort are evident around us as we settle in over the weeks and months ahead.
“The campus will be a home not only to those staff and students who will work and study here, but also to colleagues from other campuses and our many external partners who will now bring to life this truly remarkable campus in the city centre.”
Powering Belfast Region City Deal
Reflecting Ulster University’s breadth of disciplines and academic leadership across the creative industries and digital healthcare, the campus underpins the university’s contribution to the Belfast Region City Deal. Both Studio Ulster and the Centre for Digital Healthcare Technology will see Ulster University apply its expertise to these sectors, boosting economic growth and prosperity.
Delivering community benefit and sustainability
For wider society, the city centre campus is also a welcoming environment where students, academics, business and local communities are connected to ever-expanding possibilities. The campus will make a lasting impact on the communities of neighbouring North Belfast, with the University actively involved in projects as a community partner and providing an accessible pathway into higher education.
The University’s Community Benefit Framework developed jointly with Inner North Belfast and Greater Shankill Neighbourhood Renewal Partnerships, works with local communities to maximise the social, educational, environmental and economic benefits of the campus in the city.
Committed to encouraging use of public transport and promoting the benefits of walking and cycling for a healthy, active lifestyle, the university has worked closely with external partners on comprehensive sustainable travel options for the enhanced Belfast campus. This reflects the approach to sustainability across the new campus, from biodiversity rooftops to tree planting around the campus and from renewable technologies to energy efficient ventilation.
When the 2022/23 academic year starts this September, the new Belfast campus will welcome in total over 15,000 additional staff and students to the city, offering a progressive student experience benefitting from innovative learning spaces at the forefront of higher education practice.