A Generation of Success

Professor Sir Steve Smith has led the University of Exeter for 18 years, during which time it attained Russell Group membership, witnessed turnover increase five-fold to £450 million, expanded student numbers by 150% to 25,000, and rose from an average league table position of 35th to become a regular top-10 university. Sir Steve retires in August 2020.


Campaign donations reach £60 million target one year ahead of schedule.

Mireille Gillings Neuroimaging Centre opens.

Student numbers reach 25,000.


£12 million Stella Turk Building opened on Penryn campus.


The single largest gift to Exeter, of £10 million, is received from the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation to support the Medical School.

Campaign volunteering target of 60,000 hours is reached two years early.

More than 2,000 academic staff now in post.


University injects £1.1billion into the economy, generating 11,000 South West jobs.


Living Systems Institute opens.

22,000 students.


Exeter is named Times/SundayTimes Sports University of the Year 2015/16 in recognition of excellence in sport across teaching, research and performance

Exeter reaches the global top 100 of the THE World University Rankings for the very first time.


£27.5 million Research, Innovation, Learning and Development (RILD) building was opened by alumnus Sir Dennis Gillings.

Strong research performance leads to third highest funding gain amongst English universities.


Exeter named University of the Year in The Sunday Times University Guide 2013.

Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) opens in Penryn and Exeter Medical School opens on St Luke’s campus.


Exeter joins the Russell Group.

The Forum is opened by Her Majesty the Queen as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour.


Sir Steve is knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to higher education locally and nationally.


Exeter makes it into the top 10 universities in the UK for the first time, according to The Times league table. £300m capital investment programme of campus development gets underway, including the Forum, Business School, and improvements to Geoffrey Pope Building.


Nearly 90% of Exeter’s research is rated as being at internationally recognised levels.


Exeter is voted Times Higher Education University of the Year.

First students graduate from the University’s Cornwall campus and the Peninsula School of Medicine.

The INTO University of Exeter joint venture launched and attracts 250 international students in its first year of operation.


Golden Jubilee year.

The first ever National Student Survey sees Exeter placed in the top 10 of institutions nationally.

Student numbers reach 13,500.


The £69 million Cornwall campus in Penryn opens.


Professor Sir Steve Smith joins as Vice-Chancellor.

10,000 students.

The Steve Smith Scholars Fund

Exeter is to create a permanent endowment in an area close to Sir Steve’s heart. The Sir Steve Smith Scholars Fund will help talented

students from backgrounds similar to his own. Individuals from underrepresented socio-economic backgrounds will be able to achieve their potential at Exeter far into the future.

We wish to disburse six Sir Steve Smith Scholarships in perpetuity. There will be one scholar in each of the University’s six Colleges at any one time, each receiving an award of £10,000 per year for the duration of their studies.

Please consider donating to this fund: exeter.ac.uk/donate