UCA’s 2023

It’s that time of year again – as we head towards the end of the year, we’ve wrapped up our biggest moments of 2023 to look back on.

20 Dec 2023

We don’t know about you, but at this time of year we get a little nostalgic, and like to reflect on the changes and achievements of the old year before looking ahead to our goals for the new one. In that spirit, we’ve rounded up our top ten stories from 2023 to celebrate all the developments in our amazing creative community. Thanks for being a part of it –  we hope you enjoy our review of the year!

1) Farewell… and welcome!

We said goodbye to our President & Vice-Chancellor Bashir Makhoul this year, after six years of service to UCA. He’s now moved onto a role in Canada, and in his place, it was announced that Professor Jane Roscoe would be taking the helm. Prof Roscoe arrives in February, and we’re excited to see what creativity she brings!

2) Expansion at Epsom

In July, we announced an exciting new expansion of our Epsom campus, with the acquisition of two new buildings – the Wells Building and Parkside House. These are currently being converted into teaching studios, workshops, staff offices, and break-out areas, and they’re expected to be ready for the 2024-25 academic year.

3) Filming was a real Heartstopper

If you’re an avid fan of the Netflix series, Heartstopper, you might have felt a sense of familiarity in season 2. That’s because our Farnham campus was used as a location for the show, doubling up as the fictional Lambert School of Art.

Behind the scenes filming. Heartstopper Season 2. Image courtesy ©Netflix
UCA was used as a location for the second season of Netflix’s Heartstopper.

4) Achievements unlocked for Games

UCA’s School of Games and Creative Technology celebrated two big wins this year – firstly opening the University’s new Virtual Production Studio, with technology used by Industrial Light and Magic and other games and film studios, and then securing almost half a million pounds in grant funding as part of a wider research project to ignite innovation in the industry.

5) UCA legends celebrate the end of an era

As UCA’s time in Rochester came to an end in 2023, the legacy of its iconic hilltop campus was celebrated with a stunning exhibition by its best-known graduates – including Chancellor Emerita, Dame Zandra Rhodes, and famed fashion designer Wendy Dagworthy OBE, among many others.

6) UCA fashion in Vogue (no, literally!)

Mckenna Marsden, a 2023 UCA fashion graduate, had his incredible work featured in not one, but three editions of British Vogue this year, as part of its emerging designer profile feature. And later in the year, he and four other grads – Ewa Besciak, Emil Sumovskij, Zeshaan Iqbal, and Sara Hegyi – had showcased their work at London Fashion Week.

© Mckenna Marsden
Fashion graduate Mckenna Marsden featured in three episodes of British Vogue.

7) Funding boost for architecture facilities

We were excited this year to secure a £1m grant from UK Research and Innovation to create a state-of-the-art TrakLab facility at the School of Architecture and Design in Canterbury. It will be used for activities that address current challenges in the sector, and the climate emergency. 

8) Fashion students get Starstruck with tailoring challenge

Fashion students had their work showcased on national television thanks to a collaborative project with comedian Jason Manford. As one of the hosts of TV singing contest Startstruck, Jason turned to UCA students Katie Butler, Annamarie Wheeler, Reiss Martin, Andreea Colan, Emma Foster and Jone Vzesniauskaite to create the eye-catching bespoke suits he wore on the show.

9) Performing arts courses step into the spotlight

New partnerships with leading names in the performing arts industry have given extra gravitas to our suite of performing arts courses. This year, new relationships with the National Theatre, Equity and Spotlight mean extra exciting opportunities for our students. They have also taken part in workshops with some of the industry's leading theatre companies - the incredible Talawa, Improbable and Complicité.

10) Mural design breathes new life onto Farnham campus

Over the summer, we were thrilled  to have UCA Farnham’s Film and Media Centre transformed with a riot of colour courtesy of MA Fine Art student, Oluwafemi Babalola. His mural is now a focal point of our campus, and a celebration of the creativity our students produce every day.