Universities Minister pays virtual visit to 'best education institution' for games

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Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, joined Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis for a virtual visit to Staffordshire University’s computer games facilities in support of Stoke-on-Trent’s ambition to become a UK hub for the industry.

They were greeted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Liz Barnes CBE DL who spoke about Staffordshire University’s plan to become the foremost digital university in the UK and the institution’s backing for Silicon Stoke, which aims to stimulate growth and investment by tech companies and create high quality jobs in Stoke-on-Trent.

As part of the visit, Associate Professor Bobbie Fletcher led a virtual tour of specialist facilities including the Epic Games Centre, Virtual Reality Centre, Motion Capture Studio and Esports Hub where the Minister and Mr Gullis heard from academics and students about exciting innovations in games education and the wider industry.

Ms Donelan also gave an interview with student radio station OMG and met with officers of the Students’ Union and students to hear about their experiences through the pandemic.

The Universities Minister said: “Protecting the health, wellbeing and education of students has been my priority from the start of the pandemic, and it was important for me to hear directly from Staffordshire’s students on their experiences throughout this time.

“I am delighted to see the state-of-the art video gaming facilities on offer at the University, and I thank staff for their tireless efforts to prepare them, and the rest of the campus, in time for the return of practical students this week.”

Jonathan Gullis MP added: “The University has been ahead of the game since the 1960s, when it became the first UK university to offer a computing degree. Over the last decade the University has invested £100m in state-of-the-art facilities to ensure it stays at the front of the pack – some of which I was delighted to tour with the Minister today.

“Here in Stoke-on-Trent we have the potential to become the hub of the UK’s video games industry and a key part of this is having the UK’s leading games university here in the city. Staffordshire University is the biggest video games university in the UK, with 17 different degree courses with a total of 2,000 students enrolled. Each year the University plays host to the UK’s largest Global Games Jam, which is a great stage for Stoke-on-Trent and highlights our digital potential. The University continues to invest and innovate, such as its recent launch of a new London campus, and I am excited to see what they do next.”

Professor Barnes said: “It was a delight to showcase Staffordshire University and give an insight into our first-class facilities, an overview of our future-facing courses and, of course, offer the Minister and Jonathan the opportunity to speak to some of our staff and students.

“As a Civic University committed to the economic prosperity of the region, we recognise the critical role we can play in Stoke-on-Trent’s bid to become a UK gaming hub.

“We only wish the visit could have happened in person, but we have extended an invitation for the Minister and Mr Gullis to visit our Staffordshire University London campus which presents both the University and the city with exciting possibilities for collaboration.”

Staffordshire University Students’ Union President Connor Bayliss said: “We’re really pleased the Universities Minister made time to hear from students about how difficult it has been for them working and studying through the pandemic. We hope she enjoyed her visit and hope that she took away with her the strong sense of community and pride that we have here at Staffs.”

Staffordshire University was named ‘Best Educational Institution’ at the prestigious TIGA Games Awards 2020. This follows successes at the Grads in Games 2020 Awards where Staffordshire University was also named overall winner in the Higher Education Institution category. It is also ranked 13th in The Rookies 2020 Best Game Development Schools and Colleges in the World

Maria Scrivens

Communications Manager

t: 01782 294375

m: 07766 520339


Staffordshire University is the Connected University; connected to the needs of students, academic partners, business and society. Our main city campus in Stoke-on-Trent features excellent learning and teaching facilities and good transport links. We have specialist Centres of Excellence in Healthcare Education at Stafford and Shrewsbury.  

We were recognised with a Gold award in the 2019 Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for students.  

We were shortlisted for University of the Year at the THE Awards 2020 and were named ‘Midlands University of the Year’ at the Midlands Business Awards 2020. 
Staffordshire University has signed up to the Civic University Agreement, pledging to play a leading role in improving the regional economy and enhancing quality of life in local communities. We were recognised in the top 15 for social inclusion in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. We aim to be a leading university for digital technologies building on our proud computing heritage and in 2019 launched Staffordshire University London’s Digital Institute which is committed to preparing students for careers in new and emerging tech industries. 

We are a Top 250 Young University (Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2020) and are connected globally, with more than 11,000 people studying Staffordshire University degrees overseas.