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 during 2020/21 was 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, enriched by 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 developing our new University Strategy 2021-26, we have reaffirmed in our new Vision Statement that our charitable objectives are undertaken for the public benefit:

Our Vision is to be an outstanding and inclusive University community, characterised by excellence in education, research and innovation, working in partnership with others for the advancement of knowledge, in support of the global common good.


In accordance with our Mission and charitable purposes, we aim to benefit society through our research. Our research ethos has a strong focus upon impact, tackling challenges of global significance from sustainability to health and wellbeing. One of the four strategic pillars of our new University Strategy is ‘driving high-impact research’. 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. ‘Enhancing strategic partnerships’ is also one of the four strategic pillars of our new University Strategy.

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* or 3*, defined as world-leading or 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. During 2020/21, we submitted our research for peer review as part of REF2021. The outcomes are due to be published in April 2022.

Our research continues to have tangible economic and social benefits, locally, regionally and nationally. As outlined in previous sections, during 2020/21 the University was able to deploy aspects of its research expertise to support the national response to COVID-19. The resumption of research was one of the University’s top priorities for bringing activity back to campus over summer 2020. Recognising the impact of COVID-19 on its doctoral students, one of its key stakeholder groups, the University offered them an automatic three-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 COVID-19 and other construction-related delays. The new opening date for these world-class, purpose-built facilities to support our target stakeholders in the automotive industry is now 2022. During 2020/21, our Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies (CSCT) was confirmed as a partner in the £20m Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC), a national focal point for industrial decarbonisation involving industry and academia.

In 2020/21, the value of our research portfolio was around £156m. Around 57% of our research income is provided by UK research councils and these funders include impact in their criteria for evaluating grant applications. Consequently, we have 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. See further examples of how our research is delivering public benefit. 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, including the impacts of the pandemic.

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

One of the strategic pillars in the new University Strategy is 'driving excellence in education'. 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. National publications in the form of the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Graduate Outcomes Survey indicate that the University’s graduates do well in the employment market. In May 2021, the Office for Students published a new dataset, Projected Completion and Employment from Entrant Data (Proceed), a composite measure drawing together these two metrics. The University’s overall Proceed measure was 84.3% and this absolute value was the seventh highest of the providers for which data was published.

In response to the high demand for our programmes, our student population has been growing. Despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was growth in our core headcount student population between 2019/20 and 2020/21 of 1.0%. In 2020/21, our core student population comprised 13,589 undergraduates, 3,798 taught postgraduates and 1,654 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 86% in the National Student Survey 2021, the 4th highest score for Universities UK (UUK) member organisations. Council receives annual reports on completion and employability performance. National data shows that the percentage of our full-time first-degree entrants who do not continue or qualify with us following their year of entry (2018/19) is around 1.9% compared with a benchmark of 3.1% (Source: HESA Performance Indicators - Table T3a).

Beneficiaries of our teaching activities range from school age (aspiration raising and mentoring) through to mature learners (Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) and continuing professional development), and include undergraduates, taught postgraduates, and research postgraduates. We recruit internationally and are committed to promoting a diverse student population. The 2020/21 session saw the third 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 COVID-19 pandemic, and in developing our new Bath Blend model for 2020/21.

During 2019/20, our Access and Participation Plan for 2020 to 2025 was approved by the Office for Students (OfS). 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 POLAR4(Participation Of Local Areas)/IMD (Index of Multiple Deprivation) quintile 5 compared with those from POLAR4/IMD quintiles 1 and 2. We are also committed to encouraging access for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students, students with disabilities and mature students, care leavers, refugees, estranged students, carers, and student parents.

In November 2020, we were recognised as a University of Sanctuary by the charity City of Sanctuary, in recognition of our commitment to being a welcoming and safe place for refugees and asylum seekers, to ensuring academic teaching and research flourish in this area, and to developing our collaboration with the wider local community. We also established a Race Equality Taskforce to work towards a Race Equality Charter award and submitted an application for a Silver Athena SWAN award.

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 Open Days. In 2020/21 we provided £4.06m of financial support to 1,288 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 £804k of support to 167 students in receipt of our Gold Scholarship Programme, which started in 2017/18 and is jointly funded by the University and sponsors. Our Alumni Funds provided £224k of financial support to 136 undergraduates with an HRI of £42,875 and below. In total, £4.3m of financial support was awarded to 1,356 undergraduate students.

Employers are also beneficiaries of our teaching activities through the skillset of our graduates. In the 2022 QS World University Rankings, the University of Bath was ranked 97th 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. In 2020/21 we launched our second-degree apprenticeship, the Level 7 Architecture Integrated Degree, and undertook development work on a new Level 7-degree apprenticeship in Artificial Intelligence. Our first 9 apprentices successfully completed their integrated degree apprenticeships.

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. 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 were involved in the development of our Climate Action Framework (CAF). During 2020/21 we have developed a new Masters course in Zero Carbon Transitions and the CAF team has been working to embed sustainability in our curricula.

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 the 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. Several students develop business models or launch their own businesses whilst studying.

In 2020/21, the Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications announced its new Innovation Motion Capture Studio would be based in the Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol, supporting the local and regional small and medium-sized enterprises from the creative sector. Specific collaboration areas will include; development of high-end and affordable motion capture and analysis technologies for creative content generation for gaming, film, TV, virtual reality, and augmented reality; dual location real-time streaming of motion capture data for live performances; development of intelligent tools for post-production in visual effects; development of next-generation performance analysis and physical rehabilitation tools for the sports and healthcare sectors. 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. Our public lecture series has been delivered online during the pandemic, with lectures being made available on Soundcloud, which has increased the number of individuals accessing them.

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 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.

Other impacts of our activities

We are the second largest employer in Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES), with around 3,800 employees. Our 2016 Staff Satisfaction Survey showed that 87% of respondents thought the University was a good place to work. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have conducted regular Wellbeing Surveys and have benchmarked the outcomes against the Office for National Statistics (ONS) index. Our survey in June 2021 found that 78% of our staff were ‘proud to work for the University’. During 2020/21, we received an Athena SWAN Silver award, an internationally recognised gender equality scheme.

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 B&NES area. During 2020/21, we continued to liaise with B&NES Council over the development of our new Campus Masterplan, undertaking additional work on the potential visual and ecological impacts of further development. Our Masterplan was included in the B&NES Local Plan: Partial Update 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 hometowns 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, B&NES Council. During 2020/21, we made space available in one of our buildings in the city for a public COVID-19 testing facility.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to direct work by our community to produce and supply vital Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to local hospitals and healthcare workers, with 200,000 items being made by staff within the Faculty of Engineering & Design, while local business 4Ground made a similar number using designs developed at Bath. Items made in secure labs on campus ranged from eye protectors to face shields, while our colleagues also worked with Bath Spa University and local sewing groups to create medical gowns. 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 several 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 per 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 GIA (efficiency measure), total water use, and water use per m2 GIA. During 2020/21, Council noted reductions in all four measures between 2018/19 and 2019/20, noting that the figures for 2019/20 were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and should be treated with some caution.

During 2020/21, we published our Climate Action Framework, building on our target of having net-zero carbon emissions in Scope 1 and 2 activities, and cutting our Scope 3 emissions by 50% by 2030. Core CAF team members were appointed.

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 2020/21, we published our seventh 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.

See our statement in response to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 section 54(1).