University College London
|Latin: Collegium Universitatis Londinensis|
|London University (1826–1836)|
University College, London (1836–1907)
University of London, University College (1907–1976)
University College London (1977–2005; remains legal name)
|Motto||Latin: Cuncti adsint meritaeque expectent praemia palmae|
Motto in English
|Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward|
|Type||Public research university|
|Endowment||£158.8 million (2022)|
|Budget||£1.656 billion (2021/22)|
|Chancellor||Anne, Princess Royal|
(as Chancellor of the University of London)
|Chair of the council||Victor L. L. Chu|
|Visitor||Sir Geoffrey Vos|
(as Master of the Rolls ex officio)
|Colours||Purple and blue celeste|
University College London, which operates as UCL, is a public research university in London, United Kingdom. It is a member institution of the federal University of London, and is the second-largest university in the United Kingdom by total enrolment and the largest by postgraduate enrolment.
Established in 1826, as London University, by founders inspired by the radical ideas of Jeremy Bentham, UCL was the first university institution to be established in London, and the first in England to be entirely secular and to admit students regardless of their religion. UCL has made the contested claim to being the third-oldest university in England[note 1] and was among the first university colleges to admit women in 1878, two years after University College, Bristol. In 1836, UCL became one of the two founding colleges of the University of London, and was granted a royal charter in the same year, incorporating the college. It has grown through mergers, including with the Institute of Ophthalmology (in 1995), the Institute of Neurology (in 1997), the Royal Free Hospital Medical School (in 1998), the Eastman Dental Institute (in 1999), the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (in 1999), the School of Pharmacy (in 2012) and the Institute of Education (in 2014).
UCL has its main campus in the Bloomsbury area of central London, with a number of institutes and teaching hospitals elsewhere in central London and satellite campuses at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, East London and in Doha, Qatar. UCL is organised into 11 constituent faculties, within which there are over 100 departments, institutes and research centres. UCL operates several museums and collections in a wide range of fields, including the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, and administers the annual Orwell Prize in political writing. In 2021/22, UCL had a total income of £1.75 billion, of which £525 million was from research grants and contracts. The university generates around £10 billion annually for the UK economy, primarily through the spread of its research and knowledge (£4 billion) and the impact of its own spending (£3 billion).
UCL is a member of numerous academic organisations, including the Russell Group and the League of European Research Universities, and is part of UCL Partners, the world's largest academic health science centre. It is considered part of the "golden triangle" of research-intensive universities in southeast England. UCL has publishing and commercial activities including UCL Press, UCL Business and UCL Consultants.
UCL has many notable alumni, including the founder of Mauritius, the first Prime Minister of Japan, and one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA. UCL academics discovered five of the naturally occurring noble gases, discovered hormones, invented the vacuum tube, and made several foundational advances in modern statistics. As of 2022[update], 30 Nobel Prize winners and three Fields medallists have been affiliated with UCL as alumni, faculty or researchers.
1826 to 1836 – London University
UCL was founded on 11 February 1826 as an alternative to the Anglican universities of Oxford and Cambridge. It took the form of a joint stock company, with shares sold for £100 to proprietors, under the name of London University, although without legal recognition as a university and the associated right to award degrees. London University's first warden was Leonard Horner, who was the first scientist to head a British university.
Despite the commonly held belief that the philosopher Jeremy Bentham was the founder of UCL, his direct involvement was limited to the purchase of share No. 633, at a cost of £100 paid in nine instalments between December 1826 and January 1830. In 1828, he did nominate a friend to sit on the council, and in 1827, attempted to have his disciple John Bowring appointed as the first professor of English or History, but on both occasions his candidates were unsuccessful. However, Bentham is commonly regarded as the "spiritual father" of UCL, as his ideas on education and society were influential with the institution's founders, particularly James Mill (1773–1836) and Henry Brougham (1778–1868).
In 1828, the chair of political economy at London University was created, with John Ramsay McCulloch as the first incumbent. In 1829, the university appointed the first professor of English in England, although the course concentrated on linguistics and the modern teaching of English – studying English literature – was introduced by King's College London in 1831. In 1830, London University founded the London University School, which would later become University College School. In 1833, the university appointed Alexander Maconochie, secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, as the first professor of geography in Britain. Classes in medicine began at the opening of the college in 1828, and in 1834 University College Hospital (originally North London Hospital) opened as a teaching hospital for these classes, which were organised into a faculty of medicine in 1836.
1836 to 1900 – University College, London
After almost a decade of attempting to win recognition as a university and the right to award degrees, including an Address to the Crown from the House of Commons, the proprietors of London University accepted the government's proposal to establish the University of London as an independent examining body, accepting the status of a college for their institution. As a result, the proprietors of London University were incorporated by royal charter under the name University College, London on 28 November 1836. On the same day, the University of London was created by royal charter as a degree-awarding examining board for students from affiliated schools and colleges, with University College and King's College, London being named in the charter as the first two affiliates. The first students from UCL and King's matriculated as undergraduates in 1838 and the first degrees were awarded to students of the two colleges in 1839.
There had been an intention to establish a course in engineering at the college's opening but no professor was appointed until 1840 or 1841, after engineering courses had started at Durham University (1837) and King's College London (1838).
In 1878, the University of London gained a supplemental charter making it the first British university to be allowed to award degrees to women. The same year, UCL admitted women to the faculties of Arts and Law and of Science, although women remained barred from the faculties of Engineering and of Medicine (with the exception of courses on public health and hygiene). While UCL claims to have been "1st in England to welcome women to university education", its admission of women in 1878 came after the establishment of women's colleges such as Bedford College, London (1849) and Girton College, Cambridge (1869), as well as the admission of women alongside men at the University of Bristol from its foundation (as University College Bristol) in 1876. Armstrong College (a predecessor institution of Newcastle University) also allowed women to enter from its foundation in 1871, although none actually enrolled until 1881, Women were finally admitted to medical studies during the First World War in 1917, although limitations were placed on their numbers after the war ended.
A new royal charter granted to the University of London in 1858 effectively removed the affiliation of colleges to the university. Dissatisfaction from the colleges and the desire for a "teaching university" in London led to royal commissions that reported in 1888 and 1892 and the reconstitution of the university under the University of London Act 1898.
1900 to 1976 – University of London, University College
In 1900, the University of London was reconstituted as a federal university with new statutes drawn up under the University of London Act 1898. UCL, along with a number of other colleges in London, became a school of the University of London. While most of the constituent institutions retained their autonomy, UCL chose to be merged into the university in 1907 under the University College London (Transfer) Act 1905 and surrendered its legal independence in return for gaining a greater say in the running of the university. Its formal name became University of London, University College, although for most informal and external purposes the name "University College, London" (or the initialism UCL) was still used. As of 2022,[update] it remains listed as "University of London: University College" on US Federal Student Aid applications.
1900 also saw the decision to appoint a salaried head of the college. The first incumbent was Carey Foster, who served as Principal (as the post was originally titled) from 1900 to 1904. He was succeeded by Gregory Foster (no relation), and in 1906 the title was changed to Provost to avoid confusion with the principal of the University of London. Gregory Foster remained in post until 1929. In 1906, the Cruciform Building was opened as the new home for University College Hospital. UCL opened the first department and chair of chemical engineering in the UK, funded by the Ramsay Memorial Fund in 1923.
As it acknowledged and apologised for in 2021, UCL played "a fundamental role in the development, propagation and legitimisation of eugenics" during the first half of the 20th century. Among the prominent eugenicists associated with UCL were major donor Francis Galton, who coined the term "eugenics", and Karl Pearson, first Galton Professor of Eugenics at UCL. An annual eugenics conference, the London Conference on Intelligence was held at UCL as an external paid event between 2014 and 2017. An enquiry in 2018 found that the organiser, an honorary lecture, did not correctly follow the room booking procedure, including claiming that no controversial topics would be discussed, leaving the university unaware of the nature of the conference. Due to its failure to address the situation on campus at the time, a majority of the authors of the 2020 report on eugenics at UCL that led to the university's apology refused to sign the final report. The Galton Lecture Theatre, Pearson Lecture Theatre and Pearson Building were all renamed in 2020.
In 1911, UCL received an anonymous donation of £30,000 for a building for its school of architecture. In 1919 the donor consented to being named as Herbert Bartlett and the school was renamed in his honour.
UCL sustained considerable bomb damage during the Second World War, including the complete destruction of the Great Hall, the Carey Foster Physics Laboratory and the Ramsay Laboratory. Fires gutted the library and destroyed much of the main building, including the dome. The departments were dispersed across the country to Aberystwyth, Bangor, Gwynedd, Cambridge, Oxford, Rothamsted near Harpenden, Hertfordshire and Sheffield, with the administration at Stanstead Bury near Ware, Hertfordshire. The first UCL student newspaper, Pi, was founded in 1946. The Institute of Jewish Studies relocated from Manchester to UCL in 1959.
The Mullard Space Science Laboratory was established in 1967. In 1973, Peter Kirstein's research group at UCL became one of two international nodes on the ARPANET. UCL's interconnection between the ARPANET and early British academic networks was the first international resource sharing network. UCL adopted TCP/IP in 1982, a year ahead of ARPANET, and played a significant role in the very earliest experimental Internet work.
The college's senior common room, the Housman Room, remained men-only until 1969. After two unsuccessful attempts, a motion was passed that ended segregation by sex at UCL. This was achieved by Brian Woledge (Fielden Professor of French at UCL from 1939 to 1971) and David Colquhoun, at that time a young lecturer in pharmacology.
1976 to 2005 – University College London
In 1976, a new charter restored UCL's legal independence, although still without the power to award its own degrees. Under this charter the college became formally known as University College London. This name abandoned the comma used in its earlier name of "University College, London".
In 1993, a reorganisation of the University of London meant that UCL and other colleges gained direct access to government funding and the right to confer University of London degrees themselves. This led to UCL being regarded as a de facto university in its own right.
Mergers were a major feature of this period of UCL's history. In 1986, the college merged with the Institute of Archaeology. In 1988, UCL merged with the Institute of Laryngology & Otology, the Institute of Orthopaedics, the Institute of Urology & Nephrology and Middlesex Hospital Medical School. Middlesex and University College hospitals, together with the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital and the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, formed the University College London Hospitals NHS Trust in 1994.
Mergers continued in the 1990s, with the Institute of Child Health joining in 1995, the School of Podiatry in 1996 and the Institute of Neurology in 1997. In 1998, UCL merged with the Royal Free Hospital Medical School to create the Royal Free and University College Medical School (renamed the UCL Medical School in October 2008). In 1999, UCL merged with the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and the Eastman Dental Institute.
Proposals for a merger between UCL and Imperial College London were announced in 2002. The proposal provoked strong opposition from UCL teaching staff and students and the AUT union, which criticised "the indecent haste and lack of consultation", leading to its abandonment by UCL provost Sir Derek Roberts. The blogs that helped to stop the merger are preserved, though some of the links are now broken: see David Colquhoun's blog and the Save UCL blog, which was run by David Conway, a postgraduate student in the department of Hebrew and Jewish studies.
UCL was granted its own taught and research degree awarding powers in 2005,and all UCL students registered from 2007/08 qualified with UCL degrees. The same year, UCL adopted a new corporate branding under which the name University College London was replaced by the initialism UCL in all external communications.
UCL established the UCL School of Energy & Resources in Adelaide, Australia, in 2008 as the first campus of a British university in the country. The school was based in the historic Torrens Building in Victoria Square and its creation followed negotiations between UCL Vice Provost Michael Worton and South Australian Premier Mike Rann. In 2011, the mining company BHP Billiton agreed to donate AU$10 million to UCL to fund the establishment of two energy institutes – the Energy Policy Institute, based in Adelaide, and the Institute for Sustainable Resources, based in London. The UCL Australia satellite campus closed in December 2017, with academic staff and student transferring to the University of South Australia. As of 2019[update] the University of South Australia and UCL are offering a joint masters qualification in Science in Data Science (international).
In 2011, UCL announced plans for a £500 million investment in its main Bloomsbury campus over 10 years, as well as the establishment of a new 23-acre campus (UCL East) next to the Olympic Park in Stratford in the East End of London. The plans were revised in 2014 to 11 acres with up to 125,000m2 of space on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. UCL East was conceived as part of plans to transform the Olympic Park into a cultural and innovation hub, where UCL will open its first school of design, a centre of experimental engineering and a museum of the future, along with a living space for students. In 2018, UCL opened UCL at Here East, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offering courses jointly between the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and the Faculty of Engineering Sciences and a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate master's degrees. The first undergraduate students, on a new Engineering and Architectural Design MEng, started in September 2018. One Pool Street, the first building on the campus, opened in November 2022, with the opening of Marshfield, completing the first phase of UCL East, expected in autumn 2023.
UCL continued to grow through mergers with smaller colleges in the University of London. On 1 January 2012 the School of Pharmacy, University of London merged with UCL, becoming the UCL School of Pharmacy within the Faculty of Life Sciences. UCL and the Institute of Education formed a strategic alliance in October 2012, followed by a full merger in December 2014.
In October 2017, UCL's council voted to apply for university status while remaining part of the University of London. UCL's application to become a university was subject to Parliament passing a bill to amend the statutes of the University of London, which received royal assent on 20 December 2018. Following approval of UCL's application for university title from the Office for Students, the UCL Council voted to submit a petition for a supplemental charter to the Privy Council to formally implement this, along with permission to revise the statutes. The supplemental charter was approved by the Privy Council on 14 December 2022 and an order made that it be prepared for the king's signature.
Campus and locations
UCL is primarily based in the Bloomsbury area of the London Borough of Camden, in Central London. The main campus is located around Gower Street and includes the UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences, economics, geography, history, languages, mathematics, management, philosophy and physics departments, the preclinical facilities of the UCL Medical School, the London Centre for Nanotechnology, the Slade School of Fine Art, the UCL Union, the main UCL Library, the UCL Science Library, the Bloomsbury Theatre, the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, the Grant Museum of Zoology and the affiliated University College Hospital. Close by in Bloomsbury are the UCL Cancer Institute, the UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences, the UCL Faculty of the Built Environment (The Bartlett), the UCL Faculty of Laws, the UCL Institute of Archaeology, the UCL Institute of Education, the UCL School of Pharmacy, the UCL School of Public Policy and the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies.
The area around Queen Square in Bloomsbury, close by to the main campus, is a hub for brain-related research and healthcare, with the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and UCL Institute of Neurology located in the area along with the affiliated National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. The UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and the affiliated Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children are located adjacently, forming a hub for paediatric research and healthcare. The UCL Ear Institute, the UCL Eastman Dental Institute and the affiliated Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital and Eastman Dental Hospital are located nearby in east Bloomsbury along Gray's Inn Road and form a hub for research and healthcare in audiology and dentistry respectively.
Historic UCL buildings in Bloomsbury include the grade I listed UCL Main Building, including the original Wilkins building designed by William Wilkins, and, directly opposite on Gower Street, the grade II listed Cruciform Building, the last major building designed by Alfred Waterhouse. Much of the estate falls within the Bloomsbury Conservation Area, designated in 1968.
In 2014, it was announced that UCL would be building an additional campus at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, referred to as UCL East, as part of the development of the so-called Olympicopolis site at the southern edge of the park. UCL master planners were appointed in spring 2015, and the first University building was, at that time, estimated to be completed in time for academic year 2019/20.
It was revealed in June 2016 that the UCL East expansion could see the university grow to 60,000 students. The proposed rate of growth was reported to be causing concern, with calls for it to be slowed down to ensure the university could meet financial stability targets.
Outline planning permission for UCL East was submitted in May 2017 by the London Legacy Development Corporation and UCL, and granted in March 2018. Construction of the first phase of buildings is (as of March 2018) expected to begin in 2019 with the first building (Pool Street West) expected (at the time) to be completed for the start of the 2021 academic year and the second building (Marshgate 1) opening in phases from September 2022. As of March 2018, phase 1 is intended to have 50,000 m2 of space, and to house 4,000 extra students and 260 extra academic staff, while the entire UCL East campus, when completed, is expected to have 180,000 m2 of space, 40% of the size of UCL's central London campus. The outline planning permission is for up to 190,800 m2 of space with up to 160,060 m2 of academic development and research space (including up to 16,000 m2 of commercial research space), up to 50,880 m2 of student accommodation, and up to 4,240 m2 of retail space. According to the planning documents, construction of phase 2 (Pool Street East and Marshfield 2, 3 and 4) is expected to begin in 2030 and be completed by 2034, and the whole project will support 2,337 academic staff and 11,169 students. The campus will include residences for up to 1,800 students. In June 2018, UCL revealed that the UK government would be providing £100 million of funding for UCL East as part of its £151 million contribution to the £1.1 billion redevelopment of the Olympic Park as a cultural and education district to be known as the East Bank. Construction work on UCL East began on 2 July 2019 with a ground breaking ceremony by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and work on Pool Street West began on 28 February 2020.
In 2018, UCL opened a campus within Here East, the Olympic Park's former Media Centre.
The first building at UCL East, renamed One Pool Street, was due to open in September 2022. However, this did not occur as planned, with students being relocated to other accommodation on short notice. According to the university, this was due to "supply chain challenges", leading to a delay in the building being handed over by the contractors. One Pool Street was handed over to UCL by the contractors in October 2022, with the first students moving into accommodation and teaching starting in November 2022.
Elsewhere in Central London are the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology adjacent to Moorfields Eye Hospital in Clerkenwell, the UCL Institute of Child Health adjacent to Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Royal Free Hospital and the Whittington Hospital campuses of the UCL Medical School, and a number of other associated teaching hospitals. The UCL School of Management is on levels 38 and 50 of One Canada Square in the financial district of Canary Wharf. The UCL Observatory is in Mill Hill and the Mullard Space Science Laboratory is based in Holmbury St Mary, Surrey. The UCL Athletics Ground is in Shenley, Hertfordshire.
Organisation and administration
The two main bodies in UCL's governance structure are the council and the academic board, both of which are established by the royal charter and with powers defined by the statutes. There is also a University Management Committee, which is the executive committee responsible for the day-to-day operations of the institution.
UCL's council comprises 20 members, of whom 11 are members external to UCL; seven are UCL academic staff, including the provost, three UCL professors and three non-professorial staff; and two are UCL students. The chair is appointed by council for a term not normally exceeding five years. The chair is ex officio chair of the honorary degrees and fellowships committee, nominations committee and remuneration and strategy committee. The current chair of the council is international businessman and UCL alumnus Victor Chu.
The academic board plays a role similar to the senate in other institutions. It is the senior academic body responsible for advising council on academic matters and also elects academic members to council.
UCL's principal academic and administrative officer is the President and Provost, who is also UCL's designated 'Accountable Officer' for reporting to the Office for Students on behalf of UCL. The provost is appointed by Council after consultation with the academic board, and is ex officio a member of council and chair of the academic board. The president and provost since January 2021 is Michael Spence, formerly vice chancellor of The University of Sydney, who replaced Michael Arthur.
Vice-provosts are appointed by the provost, through the council, to assist and advise the provost as required. The vice-provosts are members of the provost's senior management team. There are presently six vice-provosts (for education, enterprise, health, international, research, and operations).
The deans of UCL's faculties are appointed by the council and, together with the vice-provosts and the director of finance and business affairs, form the members of the provost's senior management team. The deans' principal duties include advising the provost and vice-provosts on academic strategy, staffing matters and resources for academic departments within their faculty; overseeing curricula and programme management at faculty level; liaising with faculty tutors on undergraduate admissions and student academic matters; overseeing examination matters at faculty level; and co-ordinating faculty views on matters relating to education and information support.
List of provosts
- Sir Gregory Foster (1906–1929)
- Sir Allen Mawer (1930–1942)
- David Pye (1943–1951)
- Sir Ifor Evans (1951–1966)
- Lord Annan (1966–1978)
- Sir James Lighthill (1979–1989)
- Sir Derek Roberts (1989–1999; 2002–2003)
- Sir Christopher Llewellyn Smith (1999–2002)
- Sir Malcolm Grant (2003–2013)
- Michael Arthur (2013–2021)
- Michael Spence (2021–present)
Faculties and departments
UCL's research and teaching is organised into eleven faculties, each of which contains a number of schools, departments and institutes. The establishment of faculties and academic departments is formally the responsibility of UCL's council, with advice from the academic board.
|Faculty||Academic and research staff
(as at 30 April 2012)
|Arts and Humanities||328||2,157||1,075|
|Bartlett (Built Environment)||355||570||1,241|
|IOE (Education and Society)||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Mathematical and Physical Sciences||754||2,187||677|
|Population Health Sciences||1,092||64||815|
|Social and Historical Sciences||621||2,539||1,894|
|Total||5,277 (ex. IOE)||13,772 (ex. IOE)||11,087 (ex. IOE)|
There are also two academic units outside of the faculty structure:
- Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour
- School of Slavonic and East European Studies
UCL operates a number of disciplinary-specific research centres in partnership with other research institutions and private enterprises. These include:
UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies
The UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies (CBT) is an academic research centre involving academics from eight UCL Departments. It was founded in 2015 by Paolo Tasca, and focuses on research into the effects of Distributed Ledger Technologies and Blockchain on the global socio-economic systems and into the promotion of safe and organic development and adoption of Blockchain-based platforms.
Since 2018, the centre has been part of Ripple Labs' University Blockchain Research Initiative, under which Ripple is supporting research and development in blockchain and related technologies at a number of universities around the world by providing financial and technical resources and by collaborating on projects.
London Centre for Nanotechnology
The London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) is a multidisciplinary research centre in physical and biomedical nanotechnology based at UCL's campus in Bloomsbury. It is a partnership between UCL, Imperial College London and King's College London. The LCN was established as a joint venture between UCL and Imperial College London in 2003, and King's College London joined the LCN in 2018.
Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership
The Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership was established at UCL with the support of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. It incorporates two earlier projects: the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project (2009–2012) and the Structure and significance of British Caribbean slave-ownership 1763–1833 project (2013–2015).
Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour
The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour (SWC) is a neuroscience research centre established at UCL with funding from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and Wellcome Trust and opened in 2016.
In the financial year ended 31 July 2020, UCL had a total income (excluding share of joint ventures) of £1.54 billion (2018/19 – £1.49 billion) and a total expenditure of £1.34 billion (2018/19 – £1.67 billion). Key sources of income included £467.7 million from research grants and contracts (2018/19 – £481.1 million), £613.7 million from tuition fees and education contracts (2018/19 – £564.9 million), £227.9 million from funding body grants (2018/19 – £213.5 million) and £26.6 million from donations and endowments (2018/19 – £40.5 million). At year end UCL had endowments of £143.2 million (31 July 2019 – £138.7 million) and total net assets of £1.49 billion (31 July 2019 – £1.29 million).
In 2014/15, UCL had the third-highest total income of any British university (after the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford), and the third-highest income from research grants and contracts (after the University of Oxford and Imperial College London). For the 2015/16 academic year, UCL was allocated a total of £171.37 million for teaching and research from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the highest amount allocated to any English university, of which £39.76 million is for teaching and £131.61 million is for research. According to a survey published by the Sutton Trust, UCL had the eighth-largest endowment of any British university in 2012.
UCL launched a 10-year, £300 million fundraising appeal in October 2004, at the time the largest appeal target set by a university in the United Kingdom. UCL launched a new £600 million fundraising campaign in September 2016 titled "It's All Academic – The Campaign for UCL".
In April 2016, UCL signed a £280 million 30-year loan with the European Investment Bank, the largest loan ever borrowed by a UK university and largest ever loan by the EIB to a university. The monies are to be used to fund a £1.25 billion capital expenditure programme in Bloomsbury and Stratford. Some UCL academics oppose the expansion plans.
A report by London Economics in 2022 found that UCL generates around £10 billion annually for the UK economy. The largest contributor to this is through the spread of its research and knowledge, which is worth £4 billion, with another £3 billion being added by the impact of UCL's own spending. Other contributions come from encouraging graduates to create jobs and investment, and from nurturing company spin-offs and start-ups. The report found that in 2018–19, UCL had supported 234 graduate start-ups and 83 spinout companies, with a total turnover of £110 million and employing almost 3,000 people. The report also found that UCL's spending supported 19,000 jobs across the UK, with over 7,000 of these being outside of London.
The UCL academic year is divided into three terms. For most departments except the medical school, Term One runs from late September to mid December, Term Two from mid January to late March, and Term Three from late April to mid June. Certain departments operate reading weeks in early November and mid February. Term 3 is widely dedicated for summer assessments only. The venue used to cope with the great numbers of students sitting exams is the ExCeL London conference centre in East London.
Logo, arms and colours
Whereas most universities primarily use their logo on mundane documents but their coat of arms on official documents such as degree certificates, UCL exclusively uses its logo. The present logo was adopted as part of a rebranding exercise in August 2005. Prior to that date, a different logo was used, in which the letters UCL were incorporated into a stylised representation of the Wilkins Building portico.
UCL formerly made some use of a pseudo-heraldic "coat of arms" depicting a raised bent arm dressed in armour holding a green upturned open wreath. A version of this badge (not on a shield) appears to have been used by UCL Union from shortly after its foundation in 1893. However, the arms have never been the subject of an official grant of arms, and depart from several of the rules and conventions of heraldry. They are no longer formally used by the college, although they are still occasionally seen in unofficial contexts, or used in modified form by sports teams and societies. The blazon of the arms might be rendered as: Purpure, on a wreath of the colours Argent and Blue Celeste, an arm in armour embowed Argent holding an upturned wreath of laurel Vert, beneath which two branches of laurel Or crossed at the nombril and bound with a bowed cord Or, beneath the nombril a motto of Blue Celeste upon which Cuncti adsint meritaeque expectent praemia palmae. The motto is a quotation from Virgil's Aeneid, and translates into English as "Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward".
UCL's traditional sporting and academic colours of purple [rgb(96,40,153)] and light blue [rgb(102,204,255)] are derived from the arms.
From its foundation the college was deliberately secular; the initial justification for this was that it would enable students of different Christian traditions (specifically Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Nonconformists) to study alongside each other without conflict. UCL has retained this strict secular position and, unlike most other UK universities, has no specific religious prayer rooms. There is, however, a Christian chaplain (who also serves as interfaith advisor) and there is no restriction on religious groups among students. A "quiet contemplation room" also allows prayer for staff and students of all faiths.
Sexual harassment cases and policies
In recent years, the university has paid tens of thousands of pounds to settle sexual harassment claims but announced in 2018 that it would abandon non-disclosure settlements. The university made the decision after physicist Emma Chapman sued the institution for sexual harassment through the law firm of Ann Olivarius and then won the legal right to speak freely about her abuse at the university. Chapman settled the case for £70,000. In 2020, UCL became the first Russell Group university to ban romantic and sexual relationships between lecturers and their students.
Memberships, affiliations and partnerships
UCL is a constituent college of the federal University of London, of which it was one of the two founding members in 1836 (the other being King's College London).
UCL is a founding member of the Russell Group, an association of 24 British research universities established in 1994, and of the G5 lobbying group, which it established in early 2004 with the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, Imperial College London and the London School of Economics. UCL is regarded as forming part of the ‘golden triangle’, an unofficial term for a set of leading universities located in the southern English cities of Cambridge, London and Oxford including the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, Imperial College London, King's College London and the London School of Economics.
UCL has been a member of the League of European Research Universities since January 2006 and it is currently one of five British members (the others being the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford and Imperial College London). Other international groupings that UCL is a member of include the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association and the Universities Research Association. UCL has hundreds of research and teaching partnerships, including around 150 research links and 130 student-exchange partnerships, and has a major collaboration with Yale University, the Yale UCL Collaborative, and strategic partnerships with Peking University and the University of Toronto.
UCL has been a member of the SES engineering and physical sciences research alliance since May 2013, which it formed with the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Southampton and Imperial College London (King's College London subsequently joined in 2016). UCL is a member of the Thomas Young Centre, an alliance of London research groups working on the theory and simulation of materials; the other members are Imperial College London, King's College London and Queen Mary University of London. UCL is one of the five founding members of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK's national institute for data sciences (together with the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford and Warwick). UCL operates the London Centre for Nanotechnology, a multidisciplinary research centre in physical and biomedical nanotechnology, in partnership with Imperial College London. UCL is also a member of the Screen Studies Group together with Goldsmiths, Birkbeck, King's College London, Royal Holloway, SOAS, Queen Mary, and the London School of Economics.
In the field of Mathematics, University College London has a joint venture with Imperial College London and King's College London running the London School of Geometry and Number Theory, an EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training. This offers a wide range of 4-year PhD research projects in different aspects of number theory, geometry and topology.
UCL has a close partnership with University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; the trust's hospitals are teaching sites for the UCL Medical School, UCL and the trust are joint partners in the UCLH/UCL Biomedical Research Centre and the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health, and both are members of the UCL Partners academic health science centre. UCL is a founding member of the Francis Crick Institute, a major biomedical research centre in London which is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Imperial College London, King's College London, the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and UCL. UCL also operates the Bloomsbury Research Institute, a research institute focused on basic to clinical and population studies in bacteriology, parasitology and virology, in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
UCL offers joint degrees with numerous other universities and institutions, including The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Columbia University, Facebook AI Research (FAIR), the University of Hong Kong, Imperial College London, New York University, Peking University, the University of Toronto and Yale University.
UCL is the sponsor of the UCL Academy, a secondary school in the London Borough of Camden. The school opened in September 2012 and was the first in the UK to have a university as sole sponsor. UCL also has a strategic partnership with Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre. UCL founded University College School in 1830 and the school inherited many of UCL's progressive and secular views, although there is now no formal link between the two institutions.
UCL is a founding member of Knowledge Quarter, a partnership of academic, cultural, research, scientific and media organisations based in the knowledge cluster in the Bloomsbury and King's Cross area of London. Other members of the partnership include the British Library, the British Museum, Google and the Wellcome Trust.
In the 2018/19 academic year, UCL had an average of 7,700 academic staff, the highest number of any UK university, of whom 5,845 were full-time and 1,855 part-time. UCL has 840 professors, the largest number of any British university. As of August 2016, there were 56 Fellows of the Royal Society, 51 Fellows of the British Academy, 15 Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering and 121 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences amongst UCL academic staff.
UCL has made cross-disciplinary research a priority and orientates its research around four "Grand Challenges", Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.
In 2014/15, UCL had a total research income of £427.5 million, the third-highest of any British university (after the University of Oxford and Imperial College London). Key sources of research income in that year were BIS research councils (£148.3 million), UK-based charities (£106.5 million), UK central government, local/health authorities and hospitals (£61.5 million), EU government bodies (£45.5 million), and UK industry, commerce and public corporations (£16.2 million). In 2015/16, UCL was awarded a total of £85.8 million in grants by UK research councils, the second-largest amount of any British university (after the University of Oxford), having achieved a 28% success rate. For the period to June 2015, UCL was the fifth-largest recipient of Horizon 2020 EU research funding, and the largest recipient of any university, with €49.93 million of grants received. UCL also had the fifth-largest number of projects funded of any organisation, with 94.
UCL submitted a total of 2,566 staff across 36 units of assessment to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment, in each case the highest number of any UK university (compared with 1,793 UCL staff submitted to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008)). In the REF results 43% of UCL's submitted research was classified as 4* (world-leading), 39% as 3* (internationally excellent), 15% as 2* (recognised internationally) and 2% as 1* (recognised nationally), giving an overall GPA of 3.22 (RAE 2008: 4* – 27%, 3* – 39%, 2* – 27% and 1* – 6%). In rankings produced by Times Higher Education based upon the REF results, UCL was ranked 1st overall for "research power" and joint 8th for GPA (compared to 4th and 7th respectively in equivalent rankings for the RAE 2008).
UCL has offered courses in medicine since 1834, but the current UCL Medical School developed from mergers with the medical schools of the Middlesex Hospital (founded in 1746) and the Royal Free Hospital (founded as the London School of Medicine for Women in 1874). Clinical medicine is primarily taught at the Royal Free Hospital, University College Hospital and the Whittington Hospital, with other associated teaching hospitals including the Eastman Dental Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Moorfields Eye Hospital, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital.
UCL is a major centre for biomedical research. In a bibliometric analysis of biomedical and health research in England for the period 2004–13, UCL was found to have produced by far the highest number of highly cited publications of any institution, with 12,672 (compared to second-placed Oxford University with 9,952). UCL is part of three of the 20 biomedical research centres established by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) in England – the UCLH/UCL Biomedical Research Centre, the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, and the NIHR Great Ormond Street Biomedical Research Centre. In the latest round of Department of Health funding for the 5 years from April 2017, the three UCL-affiliated biomedical research centres secured £168.6 million of the £811 million total funding nationwide, the largest amount awarded to any university and significantly higher than second-placed Oxford University (with £126.5 million).
UCL is a founding member of UCL Partners, the largest academic health science centre in Europe with a turnover of approximately £2 billion. UCL is also a member of the Francis Crick Institute based next to St Pancras railway station. It is one of the world's largest medical research centres, housing 1,250 scientists, and the largest of its kind in Europe.
|Offer Rate (%)||42.8||56.6||52.3||53.3||55.7|
|Yield (%) (calculated from)||33.8||19.0||19.8||21.3||24.8|
|Average Entry Tariff||n/a||n/a||185||175||187|
Admission to UCL is highly selective with an average entry tariff for 2019–20 of 185 UCAS points (approximately equivalent to AAAB at A-level), the 4th highest in the country. According to a Freedom of Information request response, UCL's offer rate for 2021 admission was 36.1% at undergraduate level and 23.5% at postgraduate level across all applicants.[note 2] UCL was one of the first universities in the UK to make use of the A* grade at A-Level (introduced in 2010) for admissions to courses including Economics, European Social and Political Studies, Law, Mathematics, Medicine, Theoretical Physics and Psychology. The university gave offers of admission to 56.6% of its UK domiciled applicants in 2017, and had the 6th lowest offer rate in the Russell Group in 2015.
Of UCL's young UK domiciled undergraduates, 32.7% were privately educated in 2019–20, the eighth highest proportion amongst mainstream British universities. In the 2016–17 academic year, the university had a domicile breakdown of 59:12:30 of UK:EU:non-EU students respectively with a female to male ratio of 58:42.
Undergraduate law applicants are required to take the National Admissions Test for Law and undergraduate medical applicants are required to take the BioMedical Admissions Test. Applicants for European Social and Political Studies are required to take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) should they be selected for an assessment day. Some UCL departments interview undergraduate applicants prior to making an offer of admission.
Undergraduate subjects with the highest applicants to places ratio at UCL in 2015 included Architecture BSc (14:1 ratio), Economics BSc (Econ) (11:1 ratio), Engineering (Mechanical with Business Finance) MEng (10:1 ratio), English BA (10:1 ratio), Fine Art BA (23:1 ratio), Law LL.B (16:1 ratio) and Philosophy, Politics and Economics BSc (30:1 ratio).
UCL runs intensive one-year foundation courses called the Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate that are aimed at international students who do not have suitable qualifications for direct admission to UCL. There are two pathways – one in science and engineering called the UPCSE; and one in the humanities called UPCH. In 2022, 53% of students progressed to an undergraduate programme at UCL and 38% at another British university.
The UCL library system comprises 17 libraries located across several sites within the main UCL campus and across Bloomsbury, linked together by a central networking catalogue and request system called Explore. The libraries contain a total of over 2 million books. The largest library is the UCL Main Library, which is located in the UCL Main Building and contains collections relating to the arts and humanities, economics, history, law and public policy. The second largest library is the UCL Science Library, which is located in the DMS Watson Building on Malet Place and contains collections relating to anthropology, engineering, geography, life sciences, management and the mathematical and physical sciences. The Cruciform Hub contains books and periodicals in the subjects of clinical medicine and medical science. It holds the combined collections of the former Boldero and Clinical Sciences libraries which developed within the Middlesex Hospital, University College Hospital and Royal Free & University College Medical Schools up until their merger in 2005. Other libraries include the UCL Bartlett Library (architecture and town planning), the UCL Eastman Dental Institute Library (oral health sciences), the UCL Institute of Archaeology Library (archaeology and egyptology), the UCL Institute of Education's Newsam Library (education and related areas of social science), the UCL Institute of Neurology Rockefeller Medical Library (neurosurgery and neuroscience), the Joint Moorfields Eye Hospital & the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology Library (biomedicine, medicine, nursing, ophthalmology and visual science), the UCL Language & Speech Science Library (audiology, communication disorders, linguistics & phonetics, special education, speech & language therapy and voice) and the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies Library (the economics, geography, history, languages, literature and politics of Eastern Europe).
UCL staff and students have full access to the main libraries of the University of London—the Senate House Library and the libraries of the institutes of the School of Advanced Study—which are located close to the main UCL campus in Bloomsbury. These libraries contain over 3.7 million books and focus on the arts, humanities and social sciences. The British Library, which contains around 14 million books, is also located close to the main UCL campus and all UCL students and staff can apply for reference access.
Since 2004, UCL Library Services has been collecting the scholarly work of UCL researchers to make it freely available on the internet via an open access repository known as UCL Eprints. The intention is that material curated by UCL Eprints will remain accessible indefinitely.
Museums and collections
UCL's Special Collections contains UCL's collection of historical or culturally significant works. It is one of the foremost university collections of manuscripts, archives and rare books in the UK. It includes collections of medieval manuscripts and early printed books, as well as significant holdings of 18th-century works, and highly important 19th- and 20th-century collections of personal papers, archival material, and literature, covering a vast range of subject areas. Archives include the Latin American archives, the Jewish collections, the papers of composer Mary Louisa White, and the George Orwell Archive. Collections are often displayed in a series of glass cabinets in the Cloisters of the UCL Main Building.
UCL's most significant works are housed in the Strong Rooms. The special collection includes first editions of Isaac Newton's Principia, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species and James Joyce's Ulysses. The earliest book in the collection is The crafte to lyve well and to dye well, printed in 1505.
UCL is responsible for several museums and collections in a wide range of fields across the arts and sciences, including:
- Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology: one of the leading collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world. Open to the public on a regular basis.
- UCL Art Museum: the art collections date from 1847, when a collection of sculpture models and drawings by the neoclassical artist John Flaxman was presented to UCL. There are over 10,000 pieces dating from the 15th century onwards including drawings by Turner, etchings by Rembrandt, and works by many leading 20th-century British artists. The works on paper are displayed in the Strang Print Room, which has limited regular opening times. The other works may be viewed by appointment.
- Flaxman Gallery: a series of plaster casts of full-size details of sculptures by John Flaxman is located inside the Main Library under the central dome of the UCL Main Building.
- Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy: a diverse Natural History collection covering the whole of the animal kingdom. Includes rare dodo and quagga skeletons. A teaching and research collection, it is named after Robert Edmund Grant, UCL's first professor of comparative anatomy and zoology from 1828, now mainly noted for having tutored the undergraduate Charles Robert Darwin at the University of Edinburgh in the 1826–1827 session.
- Geology Collections: founded around 1855. Primarily a teaching resource and may be visited by appointment.
- Institute of Archaeology Collections: items include prehistoric ceramics and stone artefacts from many parts of the world, the Petrie collection of Palestinian artefacts, and Classical Greek and Roman ceramics. Visits by appointment only.
- Ethnography Collections: this collection exemplifying Material Culture holds an enormous variety of objects, textiles and artefacts from all over the world. Visits by appointment only.
- Galton Collection: the scientific instruments, papers and personal memorabilia of Sir Francis Galton. Housed in the department of biology. Visits by appointment only.
- Science Collections: diverse collections primarily accumulated in the course of UCL's own work, including the operating table on which the first anaesthetic was administered. Items may be a viewed by appointment.
Rankings and reputation
|Times / Sunday Times (2022)||7|
In the 2022 QS World University Rankings, UCL is ranked 8th in the world, 2nd in London, 3rd in the United Kingdom and joint 4th in Europe. In the 2019/20 Rankings by Subject, UCL has 38 subjects in the world top 100. It is ranked in the world top 10 for nine subjects: anthropology (10th), archaeology (3rd), architecture (1st), anatomy and physiology (5th), education and training (1st), geography (7th), medicine (9th), pharmacy and pharmacology (7th), and psychology (10th). In broad subject areas, it is ranked 10th for life sciences and medicine, 15th for arts and humanities, 34th for social sciences and management, 49th for engineering and technology, and 63rd equal for natural sciences. In the QS Graduate Employability Ranking, UCL is ranked 22nd.
In the 2020 Academic Ranking of World Universities, UCL is ranked 16th in the world (and 4th in Europe). In the 2016 subject tables it was ranked 8th in the world (and 2nd in Europe) for Clinical Medicine & Pharmacy, joint 51st to 75th in the world (and joint 10th in Europe) for Engineering, Technology and Computer Sciences, 9th in the world (and 2nd in Europe) for Life & Agricultural Sciences, joint 51st to 75th in the world (and joint 14th in Europe) for Natural Sciences and Mathematics and joint 51st to 75th in the world (and joint 12th in Europe) for Social Sciences.
In the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, UCL is ranked 16th in the world (and 5th in Europe). In the 2016/17 subject tables it was ranked 4th in the world (and 2nd in Europe) for Arts and Humanities, 6th in the world (and 4th in Europe) for Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health, 12th in the world (and 6th in Europe) for Computer Science, joint 38th in the world (and 12th in Europe) for Engineering and Technology, 12th in the world (and 4th in Europe) for Life Sciences, joint 23rd in the world (and 8th in Europe) for Physical Sciences and 14th in the world (and 3rd in Europe) for Social Sciences. In the 2017 Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, UCL is ranked 16th in the world. In the 2015 Times Higher Education Global Employability University Ranking, UCL is ranked 48th in the world.
In 2020, UCL ranked 8th among the universities around the world by SCImago Institutions Rankings. UCL is ranked 18th in the world (2nd in Europe) for number of publications and 18th in the world (6th in Europe) for quality of publications in the 2019 CWTS Leiden Ranking. UCL is ranked 3rd in the world (1st in Europe) in the 2019/20 University Ranking by Academic Performance. UCL is ranked 6th in the world (2nd in Europe) in the 2019 National Taiwan University Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities. UCL is also ranked 10th in the world (4th in Europe) in the 2020 Round University Ranking. In the 2018 U.S. News & World Report Best Global University Ranking, UCL is ranked 22nd in the world (4th in Europe).
UCL is ranked as one of the top 10 multi-faculty universities in two of the three main UK university league tables. These place more emphasis on the undergraduate student experience than global rankings, using criteria such as teaching quality and learning resources, entry standards, employment prospects, research quality and dropout rates. In the 2019 Times Higher Education "Table of Tables", which is based on the combined results of the UK's three main domestic university rankings, UCL is ranked 10th. Historically, in The Sunday Times 10-year (1998–2007) average ranking of British universities based on their league table performance, UCL was ranked 5th overall in the UK. UCL was also one of only eight universities (along with the other members of the G5, Bath, St Andrews and Warwick) to have never been outside the top 15 in one of the three main domestic rankings between 2008 and 2017.
In the 2021 Complete University Guide subject tables, UCL was ranked in the top 10 in 23 subjects out of 40 offered (57.5%). In a 2015 Times Higher Education study UCL was chosen as the 8th best university in the UK for the quality of graduates according to recruiters from the UK's major companies. According to data released by the Department for Education in 2018, UCL was rated as the 7th best university in the UK for boosting female graduate earnings with female graduates seeing a 15.5% increase in earnings compared to the average graduate, and the 10th best university for males, with male graduates seeing a 16.2% increase in earnings compared to the average graduate.
Publishing and commercial activities
UCL has significant commercial activities and in 2014/15 these generated around £155 million in revenues. UCL's principal commercial activities include UCL Press, UCL Business, UCL Consultants, and catering and accommodation services. UCL has also participated in a number of commercial joint ventures, including EuroTempest Ltd and Imanova Ltd (now part of Invicro).
UCL Business (UCLB) is a technology transfer company which is wholly owned by UCL. It has three main activities: licensing technologies, creating spin-out companies, and project management. UCLB supports spin-out companies in areas including discovery disclosure, commercialisation, business plan development, contractual advice, incubation support, recruitment of management teams and identification of investors. In the area of licensing technoloiges, UCLB provides commercial, legal and administrative advice to help companies broker licensing agreements. UCLB also provides UCL departments and institutes with project management services for single or multi-party collaborative industry projects.
UCLB had a turnover of £8 million in 2014/15 and as at 31 July 2015 had equity holdings in 61 companies.
UCL Consultants (UCLC) is an academic consultancy services company which is wholly owned by UCL. It provides four main service offerings: Academic Consultancy, Bespoke Short Courses, Testing & Analysis and Expert Witness. As of 31 July 2018, UCLC had over 1,900 registered consultants.
UCLC had a turnover of £17.8 million in 2018/19.
Launched in 2015, UCL Press is a university press wholly owned by UCL. It was the first fully open access university press in the UK, and publishes monographs, textbooks and other academic books in a wide range of academic areas which are available to download for free, in addition to a number of journals. As of October 2022, UCL Press had had more than 6.5 million downloads of its open access books in 247 countries and territories worldwide.
Imanova was a joint venture company of UCL, Imperial College London, King's College London and the Medical Research Council that owned and manages the Clinical Imaging Centre located at Imperial College London's Hammersmith Hospital campus. It was acquired by the imaging services provider Invicro in 2017.
In the 2020/21 academic year, UCL had a total of 45,715 students, of whom 21,775 were undergraduate and 23,940 were postgraduate. In that year, UCL had the second-largest total number of students of any university in the United Kingdom (after the Open University) and the largest number of postgraduate students.
In 2020/21, 87% of UCL's students were full-time and 13% part-time, although among undergraduates only 0.3% were part-time. The student body was split 59% female and 41% male. In 2020/21, 20,170 UCL students (44%) were from outside the UK, of whom 14,620 were from Asia, 4,880 from the European Union, 940 from North America, 870 from elsewhere in Europe, 740 from the Middle East, 410 from Africa, 250 from South America, and 120 from Australasia. Over half of overseas students at UCL – 10,820 – came from China.
Founded in 1893, Students' Union UCL, formerly the UCL Union, is one of the oldest students' unions in England, although postdating the Liverpool Guild of Students which formed a student representative council in 1892. UCL Union operates both as the representative voice for UCL students, and as a provider of a wide range of services. It is democratically controlled through General Meetings and referendums, and is run by elected student officers. The union also supports a range of services, including numerous clubs and societies, sports facilities, an advice service, and a number of bars, cafes and shops.
As of 2021,[update] there are over 250 clubs and societies under the umbrella of the UCL Union. These include: UCL Snowsports (one of the largest sports society at UCL, responsible for organising the annual UCL ski trip), Pi Media (responsible for Pi Magazine and Pi Newspaper, UCL's official student publications), the UCL Union Debating Society, UCL's second oldest society (established 1829), The UCL M&A Group (The UK's largest society dedicated towards enhancing access into careers in investment banking), and the UCL Union Film Society, one of the country's oldest film societies with past members including Christopher Nolan.
The union runs over 70 sports clubs, including the UCL Cricket Club (Men's and Women's), UCL Boat Club (Men's and Women's clubs), UCL Running, Athletics and Cross Country Club (RAX), and UCL Rugby Club (Men's and Women's), as well as RUMS sports clubs, open for Medical students.
UCL clubs compete in inter-university fixtures in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) competition in a range of sports, including athletics, basketball, cricket, fencing, football, hockey, netball, rugby union and tennis. In the 2021/22 season, UCL finished in 16th position in the final BUCS rankings.
The UCL mascot is Phineas MacLino, or Phineas, a wooden tobacconist's sign of a kilted Jacobite Highlander stolen from outside a shop in Tottenham Court Road during the celebrations of the relief of Ladysmith, part of the Second Boer War, in March 1900. In 1922, Phineas was stolen by students from King's, marking the start of 'mascotry', leading to an hour-long battle and the eventual return of Phineas. In 1993, the students' union's centenary year, Phineas was placed in the third floor bar of 25 Gordon Street and the bar named after him.
Rivalry with King's College London
UCL has a long-running, mostly friendly rivalry with King's College London, which has historically been known as "Rags". UCL students have been referred to by students from King's as the "Godless Scum of Gower Street", in reference to a comment made at the founding of King's, which was based on Christian principles. UCL students in turn referred to King's as "Strand Polytechnic".
Shortly after the 1922 kidnapping of Phineas, King's adopted their own mascot – initially a large papier mâché beer bottle, soon replaced by Reggie the Lion. During the 1927 rag, Reggie was captured by UCL students and his body filled with rotten apples. During the same year, an attempt by King's students to capture Phineas led to the impressive "Battle of Gower Street," caught on camera by British Pathe. On another occasion, Reggie was castrated by UCL students.
King's students stole the embalmed head of Jeremy Bentham in October 1975, only returning it after UCL paid a ransom to charity. The head is now kept in the UCL vaults.
In 2010, protests by students and staff led UCL to promise to pay a living wage to all UCL staff.
As part of the protests against the UK government's plans to increase student fees, around 200 students occupied the Jeremy Bentham Room and part of the Slade School of Fine Art for over two weeks during November and December 2010. The university successfully obtained a court order to evict the students but stated that it did not intend to enforce the order if possible.
The late 2010s saw student campaigns around the cost of university-run accommodation. In 2016, over 1000 students took part in a rent strike in protest against high rents and poor conditions. Organisers claimed to have won over £1 million in rent cuts, freezes and grants from UCL in the settlement that ended the strike. Another rent strike in 2017 lead to UCL pledging around £1.4 million in bursaries and rent freezes, mostly in the form of accommodation bursaries for less well-off students totalling £600,000 per year for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic years. Another rent strike was held at two halls of residence in the third term of the 2017/18 academic year due to complaints over conditions at those halls.
UCL owns 26 halls of residence with around 7,000 student beds. The university guarantees accommodation to single full-time first-year undergraduate students who have not previously lived in London while studying at a university, and who make a firm acceptance of a place and apply for accommodation by 10 June each year, and to single overseas first-year postgraduates at UCL who have not previously lived in London while studying at a university, and who make a firm acceptance of a place and apply for accommodation by 30 June each year. Accommodation is also guaranteed for students who are under 18 at the start of the academic year and for students who are care-leavers. There is only limited accommodation available in university halls for returning students and others who do not meet the criteria for a guaranteed place. UCL students are also eligible, as students of a member institution of the University of London, to apply for places in the University of London intercollegiate halls of residence.
In 2013, a new student accommodation building on Caledonian Road was awarded the Carbuncle Cup and named the country's worst new building by Building Design magazine, with the comment "this is a building that the jury struggled to see as remotely fit for human occupation". Islington Council had originally turned down planning permission for the building, but this had been overturned on appeal.
UCL alumni include Francis Crick (co-discoverer of the structure of DNA), William Stanley Jevons (an early pioneer of modern economics) and Charles K. Kao ("Godfather of broadband"). Notable former staff include Peter Higgs (proposer of the Higgs mechanism which predicted the existence of the Higgs boson), Lucian Freud (artist) and Sir William Ramsay (discoverer of all of the naturally occurring noble gases).
Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 30 UCL academics (including visiting academics) and alumni (16 in Physiology or Medicine, seven in Chemistry, five in Physics and one each in Literature and Economic Sciences) as well as three Fields Medals in Mathematics.
In the 19th century UCL operated as a college, with many students taking individual lecture courses rather than studying for degrees. These included well-known alumni such as Mahatma Gandhi[note 3] and John Stuart Mill.[note 4]
Notable UCL alumni include:
- Academic administrators including Edith Clara Batho (Principal of Royal Holloway College 1945–1962); and Marc Tessier-Lavigne (current president of Stanford University);
- Actors, entertainers and filmmakers including Ken Adam (designer famous for set designs for the James Bond films), Ricky Gervais (comedian and actor), Christopher Nolan (director of films including The Dark Knight saga), Franny Armstrong (director), Jim Loach (film and television director), and James Robertson Justice (actor);
- Archaeologists including Christine E. Morris;
- Architects including Arthur Ling;
- Artists including Dora Carrington (painter), Sir William Coldstream (realist painter), Wyndham Lewis (vorticist painter),[note 5] Antony Gormley (sculptor), Augustus John (painter, draughtsman and etcher), Gerry Judah (artist and designer), Ben Nicholson (abstract painter), Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (sculptor and artist), and Ibrahim el-Salahi (artist painter and former diplomat);
- Authors including Raymond Briggs, Robert Browning, Amit Chaudhuri, G. K. Chesterton, David Crystal, Stella Gibbons, Clive Sansom, Helen MacInnes, Chioma Okereke, Rabindranath Tagore,[note 6] Demetrius Vikelas (who was also the first President of the International Olympic Committee), Cecil William Davidge, and Marianne Winder;
- Business people including Colin Chapman (founder of Lotus Cars), Demis Hassabis (co-founder and CEO of DeepMind), Lord Digby Jones (former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry), Edwin Waterhouse (founding partner of the professional services firm PwC), Dame Sharon White (chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and former chief executive of Ofcom), and billionaire Farhad Moshiri (Everton F.C. part owner);
- Engineers and scientists including Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the telephone),[note 7] Margaret Burbidge (one of the founders of stellar nucleosynthesis and first author of the influential B2FH paper) Francis Crick (co-discoverer of the structure of DNA), Hans Eysenck (psychologist who created the modern scientific theory of personality),[failed verification] John Ambrose Fleming (inventor of the vacuum tube), David Jewitt (co-discoverer of the Kuiper belt), Jaroslav Heyrovský (father of the electroanalytical method), Charles Kuen Kao (pioneer of the use of fibre optics in telecommunications), Arthur Blok (first administrative head of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology), Israel Dostrovsky (Israeli physical chemist and fifth president of the Weizmann Institute of Science), Edgar Claxton (part of the 1960s team which electrified mainline British railways); Sue Jones (Bioinformatics group leader at the James Hutton Institute), William Nigel Bonner an ecologist and zoologist specialised in marine mammals, retired from British Antarctic Survey. Freda Nkirote, Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) and President of the Pan-African Archaeological Association.
- Journalists and commentators including A. A. Gill (columnist), Walter Bagehot (former editor of The Economist), Jonathan Dimbleby (television and radio current affairs presenter), Roly Drower (satirist and activist), Tom Dyckhoff (architecture critic and TV presenter),[failed verification] former ITN Home Affairs Correspondent Sarah Cullen and Simon Inglis (architectural historian and sports writer);
- Lawyers including a Lord Chancellor (Lord Herschell); a Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales (Lord Woolf, also Master of the Rolls); Chief Justices of Hong Kong (Sir William Meigh Goodman, and Sir Yang Ti-liang), the British Supreme Court for China and Japan (Sir Nicholas John Hannen), India (A. S. Anand), Malaysia (Arifin Zakaria), Nigeria (Taslim Olawale Elias), Ghana (Samuel Azu Crabbe), The Straits Settlements (Sir G. Aubrey Goodman; died before taking office) and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Rt. Hon. Sir Vincent Floissac); four Masters of the Rolls (Lord Cozens-Hardy, Lord Nathaniel Lindley, Sir George Jessel and Lord Woolf, also Lord Chief Justice); a permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong, Joseph Fok; and Attorneys-General of England (Lord Goldsmith and Baroness Scotland), Grenada (Dia Forrester), Singapore (Tan Boon Teik and Chao Hick Tin), Hong Kong (Thomas Chisholm Anstey), Gambia (Hassan Bubacar Jallow), and Sri Lanka (Dappula de Livera);
- Medical researchers and specialists including G. Marius Clore (molecular biophysicist and structural biologist at the National Institutes of Health, pioneer of biological NMR spectroscopy), Archie Cochrane (medic, researcher, and pioneer of evidence-based medicine), Jane Dacre (past president of the Royal College of Physicians), Jeremy Farrar (current Director of the Wellcome Trust), Clare Gerada (previous president of the Royal College of General Practitioners), Joseph Lister (pioneer of antiseptic surgery), Barbara Low (founder member of the British Psychoanalytical Society), Clare Marx (former president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England) and Kirsten McCaffery (Principal Research Fellow and Director of Research at the Sydney School of Public Health);
- Musicians and composers including Brett Anderson (lead singer of the band Suede), Justine Frischmann (lead singer of the band Elastica), Gustav Holst (composer),[note 8] all of the members of the band Coldplay (Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion), Tim Rice-Oxley and Richard Hughes (members of the band Keane);
- Political figures and politicians including Mahatma Gandhi (leader of the Indian independence movement),[note 3] Jomo Kenyatta (first Prime Minister, first president and "Father of the Nation" of Kenya), Kwame Nkrumah (first prime minister, president and "Founder" of Ghana and "Father" of African Nationalism), Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (first Prime Minister and "Father of the Nation" of Mauritius), Chaim Herzog (former President of Israel),<ref"10th anniversary for Israel alumni group". UCL. 29 November 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2023.</ref> Itō Hirobumi (first Prime Minister of Japan), Junichiro Koizumi (former prime minister of Japan), Wu Tingfang (acting premier during the early years of the Republic of China), Sir Stafford Cripps and Nadhim Zahawi (former Chancellors of the Exchequer), and Thérèse Coffey (former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom);
- Religious figures including Francis Lyon Cohen (first Jewish chaplain in the British Army), and Michael Adler (first Jewish chaplain to serve in a Theatre of War);
- Revolutionaries and political campaigners including Aliza Ayaz (world's youngest United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and leader of the campaign for UCL to divest from fossil fuels) and Madan Lal Dhingra (Indian revolutionary and pro-independence activist),[note 9] and Marie Stopes (campaigner for eugenics and women's rights);
- Sports people including David Gower (former captain of the England cricket team), Patrick Head (co-founder of the Williams Formula One team), Andrew Simpson (sailor and Olympic gold medalist), and Christine Ohuruogu (Olympic and World 400 metres gold medalist); and
- Statisticians including Kirstine Smith (credited with the creation of optimal design of experiments).
Notable former UCL academics include John Austin (legal philosopher), A.J. Ayer (philosopher), William Bayliss and Ernest Starling (discoverers of hormones at UCL), William Henry Bragg (Nobel Prize winner), Jocelyn Bell Burnell (co-discoverer of radio pulsars), A. S. Byatt (writer), Jack Drummond (noted for his work on nutrition as applied to the British diet under rationing during the Second World War), Ronald Dworkin (legal philosopher and scholar of constitutional law), Tom Dyckhoff (writer, broadcaster and historian on architecture), Sir Ambrose Fleming (inventor of the first thermionic valve, the fundamental building block of electronics), Lucian Freud (painter), Hannah Fry (data scientist, mathematician and BBC presenter), Carl Gombrich (opera singer and co-founder of the London Interdisciplinary School), Andrew Goldberg (chairman of Medical Futures), Otto Hahn (Nobel prize winner), Peter Higgs (Nobel prize winner and the proposer of the Higgs mechanism, which predicted the existence of the Higgs boson), A. E. Housman (classical scholar, and poet), Andrew Huxley (physiologist and biophysicist), William Stanley Jevons (economist), David Kemp (the first scientist to demonstrate the existence of the otoacoustic emissions), Frank Kermode (literary critic), Peter T. Kirstein (computer scientist, significant role in the creation of the Internet), Dadabhai Naoroji (Indian Parsi leader, the second Asian to be elected to UK House of Commons), Karl Pearson (eugenicist and founder of the world's first university statistics department at UCL), George R. Price (population geneticist), Sir William Ramsay (discoverer of the naturally occurring noble gases), and Edward Teller ("Father of the Hydrogen Bomb").
Heads of state, government and international organisations
- The title of third-oldest university in England is claimed by three institutions: Durham University as the third-oldest officially recognised university (1832) and the third to confer degrees (1837), the University of London as the third university to be granted a Royal Charter (1836), and University College London as it was founded as London University (1826) and was the third-oldest university institution to start teaching (1828). A fourth institution, King's College London, officially claims to be the fourth-oldest university in England; it was the third university institution to receive a Royal Charter (1829) and some claim it as third oldest on that basis. Deciding which is the "third oldest university" depends largely on the definition of university status.
- The UCAS offer statistics given in the table above cover only UK domiciled applicants
- took English classes with Henry Morley in 1888–89
- Attended lectures on jurisprudence by John Austin
- Dropped out without completing course
- studied law 1878–1879, did not graduate
- 1868–1870; dropped out without completing studies
- took classes in Sanskrit in 1909
- executed before completing studies
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