10 Years of Impact

This year, USW is marking 10 years of making an impact in many different forms – from impacting people, communities and policies, to partners and economies.

Since April 2013, powered by 182 years of history, the University has been dedicated to creating positive change and making a real impact which is felt outside our campus buildings, across South Wales, and further afield.

Our students have been supported and encouraged, meaning that they graduate with not just a degree, but the skills and knowledge required to face any challenges the world might throw at them. We are recognised as a welcoming, inclusive, and responsible organisation, building strong connections with a diverse range of groups in the South Wales region. We are a trusted strategic partner, working with industry to co-produce courses which are helping to create the jobs of the future. Our research has been key in influencing and contributing to societal change in many areas. We have been a key asset for businesses throughout the region, contributing £1.1 billion to the UK economy each year (Social and Economic Impact Report, 19/20).

We are so proud of everything we have achieved over the past ten years at USW. However, in reality, we’re just getting started. If you want to join us in helping to shape the future, please get in touch.



As a University of Sanctuary, USW is committed to creating a warm welcome for people seeking sanctuary within, and beyond, its campuses.

From providing free English-language lessons to offering undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships, USW implements practical solutions to support refugees and people seeking sanctuary.

Research by Dr Mike Chick, USW’s Refugee Champion, has helped to improve access to English-language education for forced migrants in South Wales and informed government policy on ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

A Refugee and Asylum Seeker Sanctuary Scheme at USW allows refugees and asylum seekers to access language tuition and language preparation before starting their degree.

Syrian academics, who have been forced to flee their home country, can remotely access the University’s library support and are building links with USW academics. This Fellow scheme is run in partnership with the Council for At Risk Academics (CARA).

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Community is at the heart of USW, and its partnership with Urban Circle ensures that diverse communities across South Wales are supported.

The Newport-based youth arts organisation was founded with the goal of engaging, supporting, and empowering young people and communities.

USW’s Memorandum of Understanding with Urban Circle supports student recruitment and community events, as well as the delivery of guest lectures to USW students, the provision of student work placement opportunities, and support with anti-discrimination resources, materials, and workshops.

USW and Urban Circle also collaborate with other community organisations across Newport and the region to support equality and diversity as part of wider civic initiatives.

The partnership has been praised by education inspectors Estyn, highlighting the benefits that it brings to charities and those they support, as well as staff and students at USW.

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The Centre of Excellence in Mobile and Emerging Technologies (CEMET) at USW is designed to help businesses to thrive, providing Welsh SMEs with access to funded research and development.

With a particular interest in emerging and enabling technologies which can transform daily lives, CEMET has supported many businesses, such as Cardiff-based company Antiverse - which operates in the medicinal drug discovery sector of the pharmaceutical industry.

Antiverse was founded to introduce artificial intelligence into the process of discovering antibody treatments to discover antibodies inaccessible to traditional methods, improving the success rate and reducing the associated time and cost of new medicines.

Experts at CEMET worked with Antiverse in its early days discussing alternative ways of approaching the problem, producing useful insights for Antiverse's world-first computational system, which is successfully making the discovery of antibody treatments more efficient and accurate.

Antiverse continues to develop rapidly, raising £2.5 million through investment in the past year to further accelerate their business.

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A programme at USW is helping to develop female entrepreneurs, giving businesses and the economy a boost.

Research shows that women who start and grow a business face more barriers around access to finance, disproportionate caring responsibilities, and different levels of access to networks.

USW launched the Developing Entrepreneurial Women programme, in partnership with NatWest Cymru, to provide masterclasses and networking, as well as opportunities to access business coaching and CPD. From gaining financial and legal knowhow, to developing a marketing strategy, participants not only receive technical knowledge, but benefit from a supportive community of female founders.

The programme has benefited hundreds of women, supporting those that choose to launch their own business, and giving them a helping hand to succeed.

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Our partnerships with industry ensure students are given opportunities to develop skills and experience that can’t be taught in a classroom. 

One such partnership, between USW and Screen Alliance Wales, is enabling students to work on leading television and film productions.

Since the partnership began in 2019, USW students and graduates have worked on award-winning films and series at Cardiff’s Bad Wolf Studios, including His Dark Materials and A Discovery of Witches. Hundreds more students have benefited from behind-the-scenes tours and meeting with production teams. 

A new project will see USW lead a partnership with Bangor University and Screen Alliance Wales, to create three new Screen Academies in Greatpoint Seren Studios in Cardiff, Dragon Studios in Bridgend, and Aria Studios on Anglesey, to deliver the skills, education, and training for people to pursue a career in film and TV.

USW works closely with Screen Alliance Wales to identify what skills are needed in the industry, enabling USW to provide the best education, helping to future-proof the industry. 

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USW, a four-times winner of Cyber University of the Year, works closely with businesses to encourage and develop the next generation of cyber industry specialists.

Working with Thales and the Welsh Government, USW leads the education strand at the National Digital Exploitation Centre (NDEC) in Ebbw Vale. NDEC is the first research and development facility of its kind in Wales, providing SMEs and microbusinesses with a base to test and develop digital concepts.

Experts from USW are helping to inspire young people from local communities and encouraging them to consider a career in cyber security, to plug the skills shortage in this sector. By seeing the technology working, and experiencing the NDEC facility, the programme aims to raise the aspirations of young people, with many coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The programme of activity also aims to help address the gender disparity in the industry, getting girls interested in STEM subjects at an early age and showing them possibilities for future careers.

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USW provides more than just a degree, offering work experience, support, and a community for all students.

Although not sure he would ever go to university, Dezire Mambule graduated BA Hons Computer Application and Development in 2020 with a first-class honours degree, crediting this to the support USW provided. For Dezire, USW gave him the tools he needed to think on his feet and be as adaptable as possible.

The support from USW continued after his course had finished and he was looking for work. An email from USW’s Springboard+ team prompted him to apply for an internship as a software developer at USW. After completing his six-month internship he was offered a permanent position in the University’s IT team.

USW is proud to welcome back many alumni as interns, postgraduates, and staff.

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Students at USW are encouraged to realise their ability to help expand their opportunities after graduation.

Joseph Thomas struggled at school and lacked a sense of direction. A keen sewer, he was drawn to BA Fashion Design at USW because of its focus on ethics and sustainability. 

Upon joining the University, he felt instantly understood by the tutors and was able to utilise the studio facilities on offer. Joseph, who has autism, felt supported by his lecturers, and set up his own brand in his second year, Haus of Androgyny – a genderless clothing range with a focus on inclusivity. He started to see his autism as something he could channel into his brand, rather than something that was holding him back from achieving success. 

USW helped give Joseph the confidence to pitch his work and expand his network. He now hopes to evolve his brand, and is focusing on producing well-made, creative pieces to drag kings and queens across the country.

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At USW, academics are actively researching in their sectors and influencing change in everyday life.

The work of Professor Bev John and Professor Gareth Roderique-Davies has led to greater understanding of alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD), influencing professional practice and government policy.

ARBD, which is treatable, can impair memory, thinking, planning and reasoning, and cause changes in behaviour. These symptoms are similar to signs of dementia and can often be misdiagnosed. 

Working closely with Public Health Wales and other addictions experts, their research has led to the development of a first-of-its-kind national action plan for ARBD. 

The researchers also developed training for people who work with those at risk of having ARBD. At the not-for-profit housing association, The Pobl Group, more than 1000 staff members received the training. As a result, they reported an increased awareness of ARBD and confidence in supporting individuals with the condition.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has officially endorsed the University’s work towards raising awareness of and treatment for ARBD.

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The Wales Centre of Excellence for Anaerobic Digestion at USW is helping to put in place ground-breaking changes to the sustainable recycling of organic waste in the UK, Europe, and internationally.

Anaerobic digestion degrades organic waste whilst allowing biogases to be collected as part of the process, as well as nutrients that can be used to make fertiliser. 

As a result of research by the centre, carbon footprint savings of 660,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year have been achieved at seven state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion food waste recovery hubs in Wales. Wales now has the third highest municipal recycling rates in the world. 

The research has also contributed to 93 anaerobic digestion plants in the UK being able to produce good-quality fertiliser - which qualifies for Biofertiliser Certification - as a by-product of food waste recycling. This scheme helps to provide assurance to consumers, farmers, and food producers.  

Further afield, the research has helped to drive significant increases in the deployment of anaerobic digestion plants, for example in Malaysia.

Professor Sandra Esteves is the co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Council for the European Biogas Association, and the research continues to feed into European policy and technology deployment developments.

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USW 10 - Powered By history graphic

USW was officially formed in April 2013, but the foundations of the University were built more than 180 years ago.