Charitable purposes

Our Mission is to deliver world class research and teaching, educating our students to become future leaders and innovators, and benefiting the wider population through our research, enterprise and influence.

This Mission derives from our constitutional charitable Objects to “advance learning and knowledge by teaching and research, particularly in science and technology, and in close association with industry and commerce”. These Objects are set out in our Royal Charter of 1966 and constitute the University’s charitable purposes for the public benefit.

Members of the University Council, as trustees, have had due regard to the guidance on public benefit published by the Charity Commission in exercising their trustees’ powers or duties. The induction programme for new members of Council includes coverage of the Commission’s guidance. The full Council membership receives periodic briefings on regulatory matters, including the Charity Commission’s guidance and the requirements of the Office for Students.

Our commitment to delivering public benefit is at the core of our Mission. In furtherance of our Mission, our key objective continues to be to deliver excellence in our two primary charitable purposes, research and education.

Excellence in research, for us, means:

  • our research is internationally-renowned – tackling global challenges and attracting world-class researchers to work with us
  • our research collaborations attract prestigious academic and commercial partners – increasing our research power and extending our influence
  • our enterprise and innovation delivers scientific and economic impact – benefiting communities locally, regionally, nationally and internationally
  • our research environment is vibrant and supportive – nurturing talent from doctoral students and early career researchers through to established academics
  • our culture is one of open enquiry and debate – challenging received wisdom and fostering the highest standards of research integrity

Excellence in education, for us, means:

  • our teaching is inspiring and highly valued, delivered through a focussed range of curricula that are academically rigorous, research driven and practice-based
  • our learning is enhanced through high-quality spaces, effective technologies, and support for students’ active participation
  • our community is inclusive, supportive and engaged, enrichedby the diverse and international backgrounds of our students and staff
  • our students are empowered to make positive contributions to society – locally, nationally or internationally – through attributes including awareness, understanding, reflection and intellectual curiosity
  • our graduates have high levels of personal, professional, and academic skills enabling them to fulfil their potential and thrive in their chosen employment


In accordance with our Mission and charitable purposes, we aim to benefit society through our research. Our research ethos has a strong focus on impact, tackling challenges of global significance from sustainability to health and wellbeing. Our faculty comprises some of the finest researchers from around the world. As established in our Royal Charter, we value research partnerships and work with business, industry, the professions, the public sector and the voluntary sector. Consequently, our research benefits a wide range of stakeholders with international as well as national beneficiaries, ranging from individuals with improved health to international corporates with more energy efficient products.

Through advancing knowledge, our research has a wide range of public benefits:

  • stimulating economic development
  • informing public policy and professional practice
  • innovating, informing and inspiring
  • advancing individual and societal wellbeing
  • building international connections

The international excellence of the University’s research was evidenced in 2014-15 by the outcomes of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) evaluation of research quality. In terms of the overall quality of our submission, 32% was judged to be 4, defined as world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour, with a total of 87% judged 4/3*, defined as world-leading/internationally excellent. Our overall grade point average (GPA) was 3.17, placing us 12th in the research quality ranking of UK universities (excluding specialist institutions). The REF methodology also included a national evaluation of research impact for the first time and we performed strongly in this measure.

Our research continues to have tangible economic and social benefits, locally, regionally and nationally. As outlined in previous sections, during 2019/20 the University was able to deploy aspects of its research expertise to support the national response to COVID19. Whilst lockdown undoubtedly had a negative impact on the University’s research activities during the latter half of 2019/20, the resumption of research was one of the University’s top priorities for bringing activity back to campus. Recognising the impact of COVID19 on its doctoral students, one of its key stakeholder groups, the University offered them an automatic 3-month extension.

In continuing to invest in the strategic expansion of our research base we will increase its impact and, hence, its public benefit. Construction work on our new, fully-integrated research facility for the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems at the Bristol and Bath Science Park, has continued, albeit with some COVID19-related delays. The new opening date for these world-class, purpose-built facilities to support our target stakeholders in the automotive industry is now June 2021.

In 2019/20, the value of our research portfolio was around £156 million. Around 55% of our research income is provided by UK research councils and these funders include impact in their criteria for evaluating grant applications. Consequently, the University has an objective view of the potential public benefit of much of its research.

We will continue to strengthen our international networks and partnerships to enhance our international profile and our ability to sustain a world class research capability. In 2019/20, for example, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, Singapore’s lead public sector R&D agency, to establish a collaboration in sustainable food technologies.

Further examples of how our research is delivering public benefit can be found on our research page.

We believe that there is a clear secondary order public benefit in having an informed population, both nationally and internationally, particularly where complex global issues are concerned. We are proactive in engaging the media with our research work and providing expert comment on topical issues.

We work actively to ensure that our research is disseminated and understood beyond the world of academia. Our Institute for Policy Research has published a series of Policy Briefs which are circulated to key decision-makers. Our Public Engagement unit also plays a key role in disseminating our research. We utilise a wide variety of media to disseminate knowledge beyond the confines of campus, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS), Twitter and Facebook.


In advancing and disseminating knowledge, our teaching has a wide range of public benefits:

  • developing people
  • providing skills for the workforce
  • informing professional practice
  • innovating, informing and inspiring
  • building international connections

The University was awarded Gold in Year 2 of the Teaching Excellence Framework and the TEF Panel found that: “The provider metrics supplemented by the submission indicate that students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes. Very high proportions of students continue with their studies and progress to employment, highly skilled employment or further study, notably exceeding the provider benchmark. The metrics indicate outstanding levels of satisfaction with teaching on my course, academic support and assessment and feedback from a diverse body of students, notably exceeding the provider benchmarks.” This confirms that the main beneficiaries of our teaching (by volume), our undergraduates, are receiving a high quality experience.

We are a first choice university destination for students in an increasingly competitive, international recruitment market. Students are attracted by our excellent academic reputation, our outstanding graduate employment record, our world class sports facilities, and the wide array of other social, recreational and personal development opportunities we offer. Our ability to offer placement options across our discipline base, and with leading organisations, is one of the features that distinguishes us from other top UK research-intensive universities. Our graduates have excellent employment prospects, not only because of their discipline-specific knowledge and skills but also because of the emphasis we place on developing well-rounded, enterprising individuals with high aspirations. As a result, our graduates are well-equipped to contribute to economic growth and policy development, as well as making a positive social contribution. Recently published Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data on the employment and earnings outcomes in the 2017/18 tax year for UK-domiciled first degree graduates from 2015/16, 2013/14 and 2011/12 indicate that the University’s graduates do well in the employment market. This conclusion is supported by the initial releases of experimental data from the national Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18.

In response to the high demand for our programmes, our student population has been growing. The growth in our core headcount student population between 2018/19 and 2019/20 was 4.2%. In 2019/20, our core student population comprised 13,619 undergraduates, 3,669 taught postgraduates and 1,580 research postgraduates.

Our students are key beneficiaries of our teaching activities and we measure our success in terms of their retention rates, their employability and their satisfaction. Our completion and employment rates are some of the best in the sector and our students had an overall satisfaction rating of 88.3% in the National Student Survey 2020. Council receives annual reports on completion and employability performance. National data shows that the percentage of our full-time first degree entrants who continue or qualify with us following their year of entry is around 96.3% (Source: HESA Performance Indicators - Table T3a).

Beneficiaries of our teaching activities range from school age (aspiration raising/mentoring) through to mature learners (continuing professional development and MOOCS), and include undergraduates, taught postgraduates and research postgraduates. We recruit internationally and are committed to promoting a diverse student population. The 2019/20 session saw the second year of delivery of our new online programmes in partnership with Wiley. This partnership enables us to deliver teaching in a mode that is likely to be more convenient for mature students and those with caring responsibilities. We are currently working on an expansion of our online provision. The lessons we learned from this initiative helped us in moving to remote delivery of teaching when the UK moved into lockdown in response to the COVID19 pandemic, and in developing our new Bath Blend model for 2020/21.

During 2019/20, our Access and Participation Plan for 2020-25 was approved by the Office for Students. We have identified that the main area we need to focus on is recruiting more students from lower socio-economic groups and, specifically, narrowing the gap between the percentage of students from the top participation of local areas (POLAR4) or Indices of multiple deprivation (IMD) quintile 5 compared with those from POLAR4/IMD quintiles 1 and 2. We are also committed to encouraging access to the University for BAME students, students with disabilities and mature students, care leavers, refugees, estranged students, carers and student parents.

We recognise that undergraduate tuition fees may be a barrier to accessing our teaching. We publicise the financial support that we can provide to prospective students through our website and Public Benefit Statement 2019/20 Annual Report & Accounts 2020 Open Days. In 2019-20 we provided £3.92m of financial support to 1,190 undergraduate students in the form of bursaries for individuals paying fees under the 2012 fee regime with a household residual income (HRI) of £25,000 or below. This included £603k of support to 126 students in receipt of the University’s Gold Scholarship Programme, which started in 2017-18 and is jointly funded by the University and sponsors. Our Alumni Funds provided £349k of financial support to 179 undergraduates with an HRI of £42,875 and below. In total, £4.3m of financial support was awarded to 1,311 undergraduate students.

Employers are also beneficiaries of our teaching activities through the skillset of our graduates. In the 2021 QS world ranking, the University of Bath was ranked 101st in the world in the employer reputation performance measure. We also measure our success in delivering the skills that employers want in terms of our ability to maintain our network of placement sponsors. In 2018/19 we launched our first degree apprenticeship, the Level 7 Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist Integrated Degree, and during 2019/20 we extended the number of employers with whom we partnered to deliver this provision.

The wider community also benefits from our ability to attract high quality, engaged students. Working in close partnership with the Students’ Union, the University offers a wide range of opportunities for personal development, including volunteering, summer internships, personal development and skills training. In providing a wide range of opportunities to learn through experience and enhance personal development and career prospects, we are producing graduates who are well-equipped to act as good citizens and members of local, national and international society.

Students can volunteer to help with outreach activities, encouraging gifted and talented young people from socio-economic groups under-represented in Higher Education, to raise their educational aspirations. We provide a supportive learning environment, with central student services and academic departments working in partnership, and have one of the highest retention and success rates in the UK. We have an excellent record for supporting students with disabilities to the successful completion of their studies. Our low non-continuation rates are reflected in our TEF metrics for our total full-time undergraduate population and also our population of students with disabilities. We encourage students from diverse backgrounds and provide financial support.

Students can also volunteer to help with our public engagement activities, particularly the annual ‘Bath taps into Science’ event in the city which is designed to enthuse members of the community about science.

We are keen to ensure that our students and graduates have a strong awareness of the environmental impact of their actions. Students in campus residences are encouraged to take part in an annual competition to reduce energy use and students are involved in the development of our Climate Action Framework.

Creativity, enterprise and innovation

The knowledge that we generate through our research and teaching activities can be exploited to achieve a number of public benefits:

  • innovating, informing and inspiring
  • engaging communities and working in partnership
  • stimulating local economic and social development
  • building international connections

We are sector leaders in knowledge exchange, applying fresh thinking to accelerate economic growth and social advances. Our Innovation Centre is helping to diversify the economic profile of the city by incubating high yield businesses. We are a member of the SETsquared partnership which in February 2018 was ranked as the world’s leading University-linked business incubator, a position it has occupied since 2015.

Enterprise@Bath, a resource for our whole University community, is aimed at creating tomorrow’s business leaders and fostering an innovative culture. It signposts sources of skills development, funding and support. We offer enterprise education for students and they are encouraged to develop entrepreneurial skills. A number of students develop business models or launch their own businesses whilst studying.

As part of our culture of creativity, enterprise and innovation, we seek to make a positive social, as well as economic, impact. We have outstanding sports facilities and offer a programme of community sport, TeamBath Tribe, encouraging young people in particular to engage in sporting activities. We also offer a public arts programme, including visual arts, theatre, dance and music.

International engagement

We believe that there is a benefit to our academic activities and, hence our charitable objectives, in having a truly international culture on campus. Our international culture also has benefits locally and regionally. Our ability to attract internationally renowned researchers contributes to our capacity to contribute to the regional and national knowledge economy. Through our international connections we can provide a conduit to disseminate best international practice and cutting edge research locally, regionally and nationally. We also believe that a culturally diverse student population makes a positive impact on the experience of all of our students.

In addition to the international profile of our teaching and research activities, we are forging international connections through our alumni network and our world class sports facilities. We have around 120,000 alumni, representing 173 countries. Our alumni are encouraged to make philanthropic donations to enhance the student experience, our physical infrastructure and our research capacity. This enhances our capacity to deliver our charitable objectives. We also have around 1,500 Alumni Experts, spread across 140 countries who support other alumni and students via our online mentoring platform, Bath Connection. During 2019/20, our alumni contributed £65K which enhanced our hardship funding for students who found themselves in financial difficulties as a result of COVID19.

Other impacts of our activities

We are the second largest employer in Bath & North East Somerset (BANES), with 3,442 full time equivalent employees. Our 2016 Staff Satisfaction Survey showed that 87% of respondents thought the University was a good place to work.

We do not believe that there is any direct harm or detriment to the public arising from our Mission and corporate goals. However, our success in attracting students does mean that our student population puts a significant demand on the residential accommodation in the Bath and North East Somerset area. During 2019/20, we continued to liaise with Bath and North East Somerset Council over the development of our new Campus Masterplan, undertaking additional work on the potential visual and ecological impacts of further development. Our Emerging Masterplan was included in the BANES Local Plan Options Consultation.

During 2019/20, we announced a plan to develop a Civic University Agreement. In signing up to such agreements, universities commit to prioritising the economy and quality of life in their home towns or cities, working alongside partners including schools, colleges, local authorities, charities, the NHS, civil society and businesses. On 13 January 2020, we launched a new initiative, “Our Shared Future”, in collaboration with our local authority, Bath and North East Somerset Council.

We hold three meetings a year of the Local Residents’ Forum to ensure that our nearest neighbours are briefed on our capital plans and our programme of events for campus. In this way, we try to mitigate the impact of our activities on our immediate community.

We also recognise that our activities have environmental consequences and we have made a number of commitments to promote effective environmental management:

  • continually improve our environmental performance as far as the constraints of our physical infrastructure and estate will permit
  • make the most efficient and effective use of all resources, encouraging members of our community to develop a sustainable approach
  • minimise carbon emissions from regular commuting to and from campus by encouraging the use of public transport, cycling or walking
  • implement effective energy and water conservation measures
  • reduce overall waste production and increase the recycled component of the waste stream
  • implement a procurement policy that includes consideration of sustainability in all tender evaluations
  • work with our suppliers to help us achieve our sustainable and socially responsible procurement policy aspirations in the delivery of our products and services
  • support the principles of fair trade and maintain our Fairtrade status
  • manage our grounds in an environmentally and biodiversity-sensitive manner

We are fully committed to minimising carbon emissions and were the first UK Higher Education Institution (HEI) to undertake the Carbon Trust’s Higher Education Carbon Management process in its ‘pre-pilot’ phase in 2003. Our initial carbon reduction target was to reduce CO2 emissions from gas combustion and electricity usage by 12.5% from a 2003/04 baseline of 0.11 tonnes/m2 building floor area by 2010, which we achieved by December 2010. Council monitors four Key Performance Indicators in relation to sustainability – total carbon emissions (total impact), carbon emissions per m2 Gross Internal Area (GIA) (efficiency measure), total water use, and water use per m2 GIA. During 2019/20, Council noted reductions in all four measures between 2017/18 and 2018/19.

During 2019/20, we continued to develop our Climate Action Framework. Our Council approved a new target of having net zero carbon emissions in Scope 1 and 2 activities, and cutting the University’s Scope 3 emissions by 50%, by 2030. Council also declared a Climate Emergency and approved the key principles underpinning the emerging Climate Action Framework.

We seek to promote the highest standards of scientific and professional integrity and to give due consideration to the ethical, social and environmental issues arising from our activities. In 2019/20, we published our sixth annual statement on research integrity. In advancing knowledge to improve health and wellbeing, we undertake various projects in medical research and medically-associated biological research. This work is funded by the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and major medical charities including the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Arthritis Research UK and Diabetes UK. Research in the UK involving vertebrate animals is regulated, within the framework of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, by the Home Office Animals Scientific Procedures Division and Inspectorate. All work on vertebrate animals is conducted under Home Office Licence. This means that any projects we undertake have been through an ethical review process, and have then been assessed by a Home Office Inspector. The University is committed to the three Rs – Refinement, Reduction and Replacement of experiments involving animals.

Our statement in response to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 section 54(1) is published on our website.