University History

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In the beginning...

University College Hull was founded in 1927 through the support of local benefactors, such as Thomas Robinson Ferens (who gave the land and £250,000), G F Grant and the City Council.

The Duke of York laying the foundation stone

The Duke of York laying the foundation stone

Duke of York (George VI) laid the foundation stone in 1928 and the College opened in October with 39 students and 14 ‘one-man’ departments. There were 100 students in 1931.

Located on Cottingham Road in Hull, with just one building (now the Venn Building), the new University College Hull was an outpost of the University of London and offered courses in the arts and pure sciences.

During its early years, the College faced the changing economic trends of the 1930s and then the outbreak of war, which led to falling student numbers, buildings being commandeered and books being evacuated for safe-keeping.

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Royal Charter

The first Principal, Arthur Morgan, was succeeded in 1935 by John Nicholson (‘Nicky’), who led the campaign to achieve the College's independence, which eventuated on 13 May 1954. A Royal Charter was granted and the University of Hull became a separate institution with the right to award its own degrees – it was Yorkshire’s third university and England's 14th.

The number of applications doubled within a year, and in 1956, the student population topped 1,000 for the first time.

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Part of the inside of the University library, June 1954

Part of the inside of the University library, June 1954

Expansion

A new library (later named after Sir Brynmor Jones, once the University’s Vice-Chancellor) was opened by the Queen Mother in 1960.

The Larkin and Wilberforce buildings, were guided by the Martin Plan of 1967, which envisaged a landscaped pedestrian centre for the campus and ‘cascaded’ buildings diminishing in height towards the perimeter. The library tower extension opened in 1970.

Needler Hall including first extension, August 1952

Needler Hall including first extension, August 1952

No new academic buildings were built from 1974 to 1996. Student numbers more than doubled during that time, and Hull became a more efficient user of space than other British universities.

The next big development was the University’s merger with University College Scarborough in 2000. The college (originally a teacher training institution) became the University of Hull’s Scarborough Campus. This now represented a significant extension of the University’s geographical reach and academic portfolio.

Scarborough offers specialist undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the arts, business, coastal studies, education and internet computing.

The biggest-ever single expansion occurred in September 2003 with the acquisition of the University of Lincoln’s Hull campus (next door to the main campus on Cottingham Road), increasing the size of the Hull campus by more than a third.

The site houses the recently-established Hull York Medical School, a pioneering joint initiative involving the Universities of Hull and York, and the rapidly-growing Business School.

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Developments in Research

Research excellence has developed alongside teaching from the University's earliest days, particularly in the physical sciences. In 1979, the School of Chemistry received the Queen’s Award for Industry for Professor George Gray's work in the development of liquid crystals (which now have applications in everything from scientific equipment to LCD displays on mobile phones).

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the University’s Research Centre in Surface Engineering pioneered the development of a new discipline of crucial importance to the manufacturing industry. The University has also developed expertise in the field of robotics and virtual reality systems. Research expertise is not confined to pure science – History, Law, English, Geography, Asian Studies, Politics and Music were all awarded a Grade 5 ('internationally excellent') in the last national Research Assessment Exercise.

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A university for the 21st century

The University of Hull is providing a cutting-edge educational experience for over 18,000 students a year. The academic portfolio contains 50 disciplines across the arts and humanities, business, education, health, the sciences and the social sciences.

As one of the major players in the regeneration of Hull and Scarborough, the University also has a significant impact on local economic and social growth.

Selection of historical images

^ Top banner image: Venn building under construction and now.

The Duke and Duchess of York, the Archbishop of York, the President (Mr Ferens) and the Principal, 1928

The Duke and Duchess of York,
the Archbishop of York, the President
(Mr Ferens) and the Principal, 1928


Aerial view of the University, May 1954

Aerial view of the University, May 1954.


Old chemistry labs, 1954

Old chemistry labs, 1954.

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