The University of Sussex received its Royal Charter in 1961 and immediately set about offering an alternative to the traditional higher education landscape.
From the very start, Sussex was intended to be a new kind of university: challenging convention and fostering critical thinking. It set out to disrupt traditions, create new ‘interdisciplinary’ pathways, and redraw the map of learning. Today our courses, research, and culture aim to stimulate, excite and challenge. So, from scientific discovery to global policy, from student welfare to career development, Sussex innovates and takes a lead. And today, in every part of society and across the world, you will find someone from Sussex making an original and valuable contribution.
Now in our 61st year, we have grown to more than 18,500 students, and have established a global reputation with more than 89 per cent of our research recognised as world leading or internationally recognised in REF2021. We are currently rated in the top 250 in the world (218th) out of more than 1,500 Universities in the QS World University Rankings and 1st in the same rankings by subject for Development Studies.
We are also in the top 50 of universities globally delivering on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We especially value our community, as demonstrated by our outstanding record for student retention, and we nurture our students to give them the best life chances.
We also maintain fantastic connections with our alumni from more than 150 countries, who are proudly associated with the University and who frequently tell us how their time at Sussex shaped their careers and gave them the courage to stand up for their beliefs. Our alumni include the former Presidents of Botswana, Costa Rica and South Africa, the former Acting President of Zambia, and the former Vice-President of the Gambia. All of them take their Sussex experience beyond campus to contribute to their communities and to the wider world.
The continuing support of our alumni enables us to provide bursaries and scholarships for a wide range of disadvantaged students, as well as networking and mentoring opportunities.
Looking to the future, we aim to build on our strengths and remain committed to Sussex providing high-quality education, excellence in academic research, and fruitful engagement with our international partners and local communities. We welcomed students from over 150 countries to campus in 2023 and we are committed to maintaining a truly international environment as we develop our new University strategy.
You can find out more about the university here.
A research-intensive university
With our highly cited researchers, five Nobel Laureates and a founding commitment to interdisciplinarity, Sussex is respected for innovative, high-quality research.
We received excellent REF2021 results. We are ranked by Times Higher Education (THE) as 27th in the UK for Research Power and Market Share, up from 34th in 2014 and placed 32nd for research impact. 89% of our research is ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.
Also, 93% of our research impact was assessed to be ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ – up from 80.7% in 2014.
We have an exceptionally strong international profile to our research, being ranked first in the world for Development Studies in QS World University Rankings (2022) for the sixth year running. We are also proud to have been named among the top 50 universities in the world for delivering on the UN Sustainable Development Goals in research, teaching, stewardship, and outreach in the (THE) World Impact Rankings 2022.
We have longstanding strengths in biosciences, gender studies, international relations, literature and linguistics, modern history, psychology, quantum physics, radical arts theory and practice, science policy, and sustainability research. These established areas of excellence are joined by emerging and consolidating strengths within business and management, digital humanities, law, and medicine. Our Business School received the highest research grant income of any Business School in the UK in 2022.
We have a number of Research Programmes and Centres that highlight our commitment to interdisciplinary research, and which provide creative opportunities to solve some of our most pressing research challenges in new ways, such as the Sussex Kindness Research network. We also have several active Doctoral Training Partnerships, including a £17m AHRC grant, funding around 75 studentships, which collectively promote excellence in research, knowledge exchange and postgraduate training. From questioning the ethics of artificial intelligence to challenging policies that cause poverty and inequality, our researchers are at the forefront of translating research into positive change. Our focus continues to be on how we can advance knowledge for a better world and how can we contribute towards ensuring progress for people and planet.
Teaching, learning and the wider student experience
- More than 18,500 students, of whom 76% are undergraduates, and 24% are postgraduates
- University of the Year for Student Retention in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022
We recognise the value that human interaction brings to education, and are deeply committed to face-to-face teaching.
At the same time, our goal of delivering a transformative learning experience to our students, as set out in our Sussex 2025 strategic framework, incorporates new ways to make learning and teaching exciting and contemporary.
Across our on-site and virtual programmes we continue to pioneer and integrate innovations in educational pedagogy, learning methods and digital technologies. We want our curriculum to break boundaries, inspire students to be critical thinkers, and encourage disruptive, entrepreneurial imagination to meet future global challenges.
Enhancing the student experience beyond the classroom, our recently opened Student Centre is fundamental to an ambitious transformation in how our students access friendly, consistent, and expert personalised services across campus and digitally. We want to create a strong sense of belonging and community for all students, creating spaces to build relationships, be creative and share ideas.
Developing our new Student Centre is just one of a range of initiatives to transform the Sussex student experience. We are also proud to have launched both The Spirit of Sussex Award, which celebrates students’ extracurricular achievements, and the Connector Programme, aimed at getting staff and students to work together to improve the student experience at Sussex.
Equality, diversity, and inclusion are everyone’s business at the University of Sussex. Achieving equality, diversity, and inclusion is fundamental to the success of the University. We aspire not just to reduce inequalities in outcomes for individuals, but to use our expertise, commitment, and courage to challenge the status quo and address chronic issues of under-representation and disadvantage.
We are committed to taking bold action to transform the campus into one that is experienced as inclusive by all our communities. This includes understanding and addressing power relations and the intersecting inequalities that many members of our community experience. Our goal is to create a culture where everyone thrives, making Sussex a beacon in the sector nationally and internationally.
We have much to be proud of in building an equal, diverse, and fair community at Sussex. In terms of gender equality, our percentage of women professors is seen as excellent for the sector and our Widening Participation programme of engagement and support has resulted in significantly reducing the attainment gap for our ‘first generation scholars’.
But we know from our data, research, and consultations that we have much more to do to make the University truly equal and inclusive, for example, by closing the gender pay gap, improving the representation and experience of black and minority ethnic staff, closing the attainment/awarding and employment gap across different groups of students, and making our campus fully accessible.
Inclusive Sussex is the University’s equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) strategy. Our vision is for all members of our community to have equal access to opportunities, and to experience the University as one that enables them to fully meet their potential and supports them to make a full contribution to the University. Reducing inequalities, and promoting and celebrating diversity of background, identity and belief allows us all to thrive. We can achieve more together than we can apart.
For further information on the University’s commitment and approach to EDI, please see www.sussex.ac.uk/equalities.
Our ambition is simple and clear – to be one of the most sustainable universities in the world. From our aims to reach net zero by 2035 and embed sustainability across the curriculum and beyond, to our wide-ranging research, our commitment to sustainability permeates everything we do.
We already have sector-leading performance in key issues of sustainability such as our own renewable energy farm with 3,000 solar panels and being the first UK university to introduce an aerobic digester for food waste.
We scored 100% in three areas of the 2022/23 People & Planet University League Table. Building on this, we have recently published our ambitious and comprehensive sustainability strategy, setting out a roadmap for Sussex. What is remarkable about Sustainable Sussex is its breadth. We are addressing all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Our key aims include:
- Reach net zero by 2035 – including both direct and indirect carbon emissions via decarbonised infrastructure and ethical procurement activity.
- Embed sustainability into all aspects of student learning and experience.
- Recycle 50% of waste by 2025 – and reduce the waste produced per student by 10% by 2025.
- Create the UK’s most biodiverse campus – setting aside up to half of the site for nature.
- Have more staff and students volunteering in their local community – including through a new charity partnership with Surfers Against Sewage.
Our strategy is grounded upon consultation and collaboration at every level. It has been co-created with the University’s students, staff, partners, and stakeholders. Our academics have also been doing tremendous work to protect and restore the environment. For example, Sussex biologists are involved in conservation projects across the globe, including joining a local initiative to protect and restore the Sussex coast’s kelp fields that have been depleted by trawling, and we have a new Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre, which received £20m from UK Research and Innovation.
All these sustainability efforts, and more, have earned us praise and recognition. The University was named among the world’s top 50 for delivering on the UN SDGs in research, teaching, stewardship and outreach in the Times Higher Education (THE) World Impact Rankings 2022.