We go behind the scenes of the new Ulster University Belfast campus

by decwells
We go behind the scenes of the new Ulster University Belfast campus

THE final phase of Ulster University’s improved Belfast campus will open its doors to new and returning students and staff as the new academic year gets underway on September 19.

With 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 buildings in Europe and is set to transform higher education in the city.

The inspiration from the hills extends to the color scheme chosen for the interior furnishings, which are said to be inspired by the rock pools found in the landscape.

In September 2021, the university began welcoming staff and students to the first of the new blocks within this inspiring city center space, following the launch of the first phase of the redevelopment which led to the establishment of Ulster University’s art school and its historic , creative heart. the first to occupy the improved campus.

Built to last more than 300 years, more than 15,000 staff and students will be based at the new campus equivalent to the population of Armagh. In total there are 2,731 steps across the four buildings which, if climbed twice a week, is equivalent to climbing Slieve Donald.

Revival and social impact

Ulster University plays an important role in the economic development of local communities on 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 around £1.4 billion.

Due to Ulster University’s commitment to social mobility, civic engagement and the formation of career potential, the equivalent of over 100 years of training, apprenticeships and placement opportunities has already been provided during the construction phase.

Social clauses included in the contract as a condition of the building program 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, accounting, construction and administration.


Ahead of the start of the academic year, Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Bartholomew said: “Our new campus will encourage creative talent, scientific expertise and inquiry, engineering innovation and entrepreneurial drive all under one roof, and is a milestone for those studying with us, work with us and work with us.

“This is driving a reimagining of the teaching and learning experience being rolled out across all our campuses, including recent improvements first introduced at Magee and Coleraine, accelerating innovation in how we do things and ensuring implementation of best practice.

“This is a campus where our students will realize 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 provides our staff with a quality and vibrant workplace, linked to the social, artistic, residential and business community in the area.

“Our campus was one of the few building projects that remained operational throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, underscoring the tremendous, shared commitment to deliver this project for the coming academic year.

“The Belfast campus development has been a huge team effort since its inception and never more so than in the last few months.


“I want to pay tribute to the dedication and effort of the architects, contractors, numerous skilled craftsmen and tradesmen, and the many colleagues who have worked tirelessly over the years to bring this transformational campus into being.

“Their collective vision, skill and effort are evident all around us as we settle into the coming weeks and months.

“The campus will not only be a home for those staff and students who will work and study here, but also for colleagues from other campuses and our many external partners who will now bring this truly remarkable campus to life in the city centre.”

Power Belfast Region City Deal

The campus reflects Ulster University’s breadth of disciplines and academic leadership across the creative industries and digital healthcare, and supports the university’s contribution to the Belfast Region-City Agreement.

Both Studio Ulster and the Center for Digital Healthcare Technology will see Ulster University applying its expertise to these sectors, promoting economic growth and prosperity.

Deliver community benefit and sustainability

For wider society, the city center campus is also a welcoming environment where students, academics, businesses and local communities are connected with ever-growing possibilities.

The campus will make a lasting impact on the communities of neighboring North Belfast, with the University actively involved in projects as a community partner and providing an accessible pathway to higher education.

Areas of the campus will also be available for rent as a civic amenity for events and conferences.

Developed with Inner North Belfast and Greater Shankill Neighborhood Renewal Partnerships, the University’s Community Benefit Framework works with local communities to maximize the social, educational, environmental and economic benefits of the campus in the city.


Committed to encouraging the 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 roofs to tree planting around the campus and from renewable technologies to energy efficient ventilation.

When the 2022/23 academic year begins this September, the new Belfast campus will welcome a total of more than 15,000 additional staff and students to the city, providing a progressive student experience that benefits from innovative learning spaces at the forefront of higher education practices.

New student experience

Once open, the first three floors of the building will be accessible to the general public with membership to their library available to the local community.

Among the facilities on offer to students, they will have access to a brand new student union bar, nine dining options including a vegan restaurant with a roof terrace and a 24/7 library including a ‘noisy zone’ which encourages collaborative work.

In addition to this, the university also includes a gymnasium and a biometrics laboratory which will be used by the champion golfer, Rory McIlroy.

Grace Boyle, President, Ulster University Students’ Union said: “We are delighted to welcome new and returning students to the new Belfast campus located in the heart of Belfast city centre.

“From the beginning of plans to develop this new landmark campus, UUSU worked closely with the university to ensure that students were present at every stage of the decision-making process.

“The new campus represents a new beginning. The Students’ Union remains committed to ensuring that the new campus is an accessible, vibrant place that all our student members can be proud of. UUSU is excited about this new chapter of innovative learning and transformational change at Ulster University.”

Students will arrive on campus from September 19th with classes starting on September 26th.

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