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University of Lancaster

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University of Lancaster

The University of Lancaster
Motto Patet omnibus veritas
Motto in English "Truth lies open to all"
Established 1964
Type Public
Endowment £5.95 million (2010/11)[1]
Chancellor Sir Christian Bonington
Vice-Chancellor Prof. Mark Smith[2]
Visitor Her Majesty The Queen
Academic staff 1490[3]
Admin. staff 3,025
Students 12,525[4]
Undergraduates 9,020[4]
Postgraduates 3,505[4]
Location City of Lancaster, England

"Quaker Grey" and red



Affiliations 1994 Group, N8 Group, ACU, AACSB, AMBA, NWUA, EQUIS, Universities UK

Lancaster University, officially The University of Lancaster,[5] is a public research university in Lancaster, Lancashire, United Kingdom. The university was established by Royal Charter in 1964 and initially based in St Leonard's Gate until moving to a purpose-built 300 acre campus at Bailrigg in 1968.[6] Lancaster expanded rapidly and now has the 11th highest research quality[7] in the UK and is the 16th highest ranking research institution according to the latest Research Assessment Exercise.[8] The university has an annual income of £180 million,[1] 3,025 staff and 12,525 students.

Along with the universities of Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York, Lancaster is a member of the N8 Group of research universities. Lancaster was ranked 7th in the 2013 Guardian University Guide,[9] 9th in the 2013 Complete University Guide,[10] 8th in the Times Higher Education (THE) Table,[11] and 9th in the 2012 Good University Guide.[12] It was also ranked 124th internationally in The World University Rankings 2011[13] 163rd in the 2012 QS World University Rankings,[14] and 9th best university in the world under 50 years old.[15]

Lancaster is a collegiate university, with its main functions divided between four central faculties and nine colleges. The faculties perform research and provide centralised lectures to students; colleges are responsible for the domestic arrangements and welfare of undergraduates, graduates, post-doctoral researchers and some university staff, though in recent years college responsibilities have been, and continue to be, much eroded in favour of the central administration.


After the Second World War higher education became an important concern of government as it tried to cope with the demands of an expanding population and the advent of a new technological age. Between 1958 and 1961 seven new plate glass universities were announced including Lancaster.

The university was established by Royal Charter in 1964. The charter stipulated that HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent be the first Chancellor. She was inaugurated in 1964. The ceremony also saw the granting of various honorary degrees to dignitaries including Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Princess Alexandra retired as Chancellor in 2004 and was the longest serving chancellor of any British university. On her departure, she gave approval for a Chancellor's Medal to be awarded for academic merit to the highest-performing undergraduates and postgraduates. Each year presentations are made to up to five graduates of taught masters' courses, and up to six to the highest-performing undergraduates.

The university accepted its first students in October 1964 and there were initially 13 professors, 32 additional members of teaching and research staff, 8 library staff and 14 administrators on academic grades. The motto, "patet omnibus veritas", (Truth lies open to all), was adopted. The first science students were admitted in 1965.

The university was temporarily based in the city. A lecture theatre and the university's first Junior Common Room were based in Centenary Church, a former congregational church beside the old factory premises of Waring & Gillow, which were used to accommodate the new students. Many new students were housed in Morecambe. The Grand Theatre was leased as a main lecture room and 112 and 114 in the St Leonard's Gate area became teaching and recreational rooms. The library occupied the old workshops of Shrigley and Hunt on Castle Hill.



The purpose-built campus occupies Bailrigg, a 360-acre (0.563 sq mi; 1.457 km2) site[16] donated by Lancaster City Council in 1963.[17] The campus buildings are located on a hilltop, the lower slopes of which are landscaped parkland which includes "Lake Carter" duck pond and the university playing fields. Lake Carter is named after Charles Carter, the first Vice Chancellor of the university, and it was built in the early 1900s.[6] The site is three miles (5 km) south of the city centre. The campus buildings are arranged around a central walkway known as "The Spine".[18] The walkway runs from north to south and is covered for most of its length. The main architect was Gabriel Epstein of Shepeard and Epstein.,[17] on a barren hilltop on a windswept day in 1963 the two architectural partners surveyed the future site of the university, Peter Shepeard recalled that day: 'We went up there on a windy day, and it was freezing cold. Every time we opened a plan it blew away. And we said Christ! What are we going to do with these students, where are they going to sit in the sun and all that? Well, we decided, it's got to be cloisters. All of the buildings have got to touch at the ground. We then devised this system and it had an absolutely firm principle: it had a great spine down the middle where everybody walked. That led everywhere. The cars were on the outside, on both sides. When you came into the spaces things were square, they were rectangular courtyards and they were all slightly different. There were two or three essentials: one was that the covered way had to be continuous, the buildings had to be three or four storeys high and connecting to the next one. I thought it worked very well.'[19] In contrast to some of the other campus universities, Bailrigg was designed to integrate social, residential and teaching areas. Another major feature of the design was that there would not be a large central Students' Union building, but that the individual colleges would be the centre of social and recreational facilities.[20] Vehicular and pedestrian traffic is separated: this is achieved by restricting motor vehicles to a peripheral road with a linking underpass running east-west beneath Alexandra Square. The underpass accommodates the Bailrigg bus station and was refurbished in autumn 2010. Car parking is arranged in cul-de-sacs running off the peripheral road.

Construction of the Bailrigg campus began in November 1965, with the first building completed a year later. The first on-campus student residences opened in 1968.[17] Alexandra Square is the University's main plaza.

Named after the first chancellor, HRH Princess Alexandra, it is situated at the centre of the original campus and contains the library in the south-west corner, designed in 1964 by Tom Mellor and Partners, the first phase opening in September 1966, the second in July 1968 and the third in January 1971.[21] The library was extended in 1997 and in 1998 the Ruskin Library designed by Sir Richard MacCormac was opened. On the west side of the square is University House as well as various banks and shops. To the south-east of the square is the tallest building on campus: the fourteen-storey Bowland Tower, which contains accommodation and disguises the boiler room chimney.

One of the most distinctive of the Bailrigg buildings is the free-standing University Chaplaincy Centre. Opened on 2 May 1969, the architects were the Preston-based firm Cassidy & Ashton. The building has a trefoil plan with a central spire where the three circles meet. The university's logo is based on the spire. A plan existed to have a twin campus with another eight colleges to the east of the M6 motorway at Hazelrigg. this would have been linked to Bailrigg by a flyover. The plan was abandoned in the 1970s during a period of financial difficulties.

Major projects

New accommodation blocks for Furness and Fylde colleges, on the east side of campus, were completed in September 2006, while the near complete rebuilding of Grizedale College and construction of further accommodation for The County College at the northern edge of campus was completed in Summer 2008. Phase 5 of the residence plan began with the refurbishment of the County Main building in early 2008. The aim of Phase 5 is to regenerate older accommodation in the University and will continue into 2009 with the refurbishment of much of Bowland College. The Lancaster University Masterplan 2007–2017[22] envisions improved access across the University with enhanced greenery and the construction of 27 new buildings, which will be largely for academic use. It will cost an estimated £450 million and construction has already been completed on the Information System Services building as well as social space for Grizedale College. In the academic year 2008–2009 work began on a new Management School building, a £21 million sports centre and a new LICA (Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts) building. The sports centre was opened for the academic year 2011–2012. Facilities include state-of-the-art gym equipment and a swimming pool with a moveable floor.[23]

South-west campus

The university began expansion onto the lower slopes of Bailrigg with the development of new buildings for Graduate College in 1998. The is now part of "South-west Campus". Development continued with the construction of "InfoLab 21" and "Alexandra Park" which now houses Lonsdale College, Cartmel College and the en-suite rooms of Pendle College.

The decision to expand onto what is now known as south-west campus was met with protests that it would drive up accommodation prices, both on and off campus. Other complaints were that the site was greenfield, with residents of nearby Galgate being worried about "the impact of the new buildings", flooding of the local area due to increased run-off from the site and increased traffic flow on the A6 and other local roads. The development of InfoLab 21 also met objections with the proposed building being described as a "Dalek factory".[24] Another concern related to the limited amount of new social space. The older accommodation sometimes consisted of approximately 15 students sharing communal bathrooms and kitchens. The communal kitchens were often a source of social interaction, while the new en-suite areas have fewer students per kitchen, and private bathrooms.


The Bailrigg campus hosts a range of shops and services. Services on campus include Bailrigg post office, Barclays Bank, Santander Bank, UNI TRAVEL (a travel agent which sells rail and bus tickets), a health centre, a pharmacy and a dental practice. Shops on campus include a SPAR supermarket, LUSU Shop, LUSU Central (a small supermarket), a Subway, a charity shop (the proceeds of which go to Cancer Care and St. Johns Hospice), a newsagent, and an ice cream parlour.

Chancellors Wharf

Chancellors Wharf is the name of Lancaster University's off-campus accommodation for students. It consists of three buildings by the Lancaster canal on Aldcliffe Road. The location is near "The Water Witch" pub, B&Q, central bus routes, Lancaster Royal Hospital and the city centre. It is open to members of all of the University's colleges. Residents remain members of their various colleges, with Chancellors Wharf itself being only a hall of residence.[25]

Cultural venues

At the north end of campus, the University’s Great Hall Complex comprises three venues open to both students and the public; the Peter Scott Gallery, the Nuffield Theatre and the Lancaster International Concert Series. In 2009, these three organisations were combined as one department by the University – initially termed ‘The Public Arts’ but later renamed ‘Live at LICA’ – with Matt Fenton at the head since their unification.[26]

The Peter Scott Gallery is open to the public free of charge. The Gallery is located on the Bailrigg campus and houses the University's international art collection, which includes Japanese and Chinese art, antiquities, works by twentieth century British artists including works by artists from the St Ives School, Sir Terry Frost, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Barbara Hepworth and William Scott. Among other British artists whose work is represented are Norman Adams, Patrick Caulfield, Elizabeth Frink, Kenneth Martin and Winifred Nicholson. Within the last fifteen years works by Andy Goldsworthy, Peter Howson and Albert Irvin have been acquired. The university collection also includes prints by significant European artists such as Dürer, Miró, Ernst and Vasarely.

Lancaster International Concert Series is the main provider of classical music in north Lancashire and Cumbria. Concerts are held within the Great Hall. Between October and March each year the series offers a varied diet of music which includes: orchestral concerts, chamber music, events for young people, jazz, family concerts and world music.

The Nuffield Theatre, a black-box theatre, is one of the largest and most adaptable professional studio theatres in Europe. It presents public performances in the fields of theatre, contemporary dance and live art from some of the best-known and respected companies from the UK and abroad. The focus of the work is new and experimental practice, a focus it shares with many of the teaching and research interest of Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA). The Nuffield presents up to 30 visiting professional shows a year, plus public performances by students from Theatre Studies, and the University’s student theatre and dance societies and a range of local community organisations.

The Ruskin Library houses archive material related to the poet, author and artist John Ruskin. It is open to the public, although only a small part of the collection is on public display at once. The building was constructed in 1997 by architect Richard MacCormac. The Whitehouse Collection housed in the Ruskin Library is the largest holding of books, manuscripts, photographs, drawings and watercolours by and related to John Ruskin in the world.

Organisation and administration

The Council of Lancaster University is the governing body, consisting of mainly lay members along with representatives of staff and students. It is responsible for the proper management and financial solvency of the university, with major policy decisions and corporate strategy being subject to its approval. The Senate of Lancaster University is the principal academic authority. It oversees academic management and sets strategy and priorities, including the curriculum and maintenance of standards.


All members of the university are members of a college.[27] Most colleges have about eight or nine hundred members and all on-campus accommodation is linked to a college.[27] The colleges are governed by a "syndicate". The syndicate structures vary, but all include a Principal, a Dean and assistant deans.

The university has eight undergraduate colleges,[27] seven of which are named after regions of the traditional county of Lancashire, and County College is named after Lancashire County Council, which financed its construction. There is a ninth college for graduates.

Name Foundation Named after
Bowland College 1964 Forest of Bowland
Cartmel College 1968 Cartmel peninsula
The County College 1967 Lancashire County Council
Furness College 1966 Furness region
Fylde College 1968 The Fylde peninsula
Graduate College 1992 Status as a postgraduate college
Grizedale College 1975 Grizedale Forest
Lonsdale College 1964 Lonsdale Hundred (River Lune and its valley)
Pendle College 1974 Pendle region

The college buildings accommodate a number of academic departments, but are primarily social and accommodation facilities, each with its own bar and Junior Common Room. A selling-point of the university is that the colleges are more than mere halls of residence, offering a sense of community.[27] Lancaster's organisation differs from that of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham: while Lancaster's students are allocated a college after stating a preference, the latter three universities employ an application system by which a prospective undergraduate must apply directly to a specific college. The Lancaster colleges also serve a more residential function, unlike Oxbridge colleges which are self-contained and governed autonomously.

List of Chancellors

List of Vice-Chancellors

  • Professor Sir Charles Carter (1964–1980)
  • Professor Philip Reynolds CBE (1980–1985)
  • Professor Harry Hanham (1985–1995)
  • Professor William Ritchie OBE (1995–2002)
  • Professor Paul Wellings CBE (2002–2011)
  • Professor Mark Smith (incumbent)


The Visitor of the University of Lancaster is Her Majesty The Queen. The visitor is the final arbiter of any dispute within the university, except in those areas where legislation has removed this to the law courts or other ombudsmen. Student complaints and appeals were heard by the visitor until the Higher Education Act 2004 came into force.[28] All student complaints are now heard by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

Academic profile

The four faculties are:

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences with the School of Law and the departments of Applied Social Science, Educational research, English and Creative Writing, European Languages and Cultures, History, Linguistics and English Language, Politics, Philosophy & Religion and Sociology. It also includes the Institutes for Cultural Research, for Health Research, Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts, for Art, Design, Film, Music & Theatre Studies and the Ruskin centre.

  • Faculty of Health and Medicine, which has partnerships with other departments such as neuroscience (Psychology), medical ethics (Law), NHS leadership (Management School), disability studies (Applied Social Science) and environment and health (Lancaster Environment Centre). The Faculty's Centre for Medical Education (part of Lancaster Medical School) collaborates with the University of Liverpool, the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Cumbria to establish undergraduate medical education in north Lancashire and Cumbria. Around 50 undergraduate medical students are enrolled each year for an MBChB degree of the University of Liverpool. Teaching is however in Cumbria and north Lancashire.[29]
  • Faculty of Science and Technology, including Biological Sciences; Chemistry, Engineering; Lancaster Environment Centre (including Environmental Sciences; Geography; and Biology); Mathematics and Statistics; Natural Sciences; Physics; Psychology, and School of Computing and Communications
  • Faculty of Management (Lancaster University Management School) comprises Accounting and Finance; Economics; Management Learning and Leadership; Management Science; Marketing and Organisation, Work and Technology; the Institute for Entrepreneurship & Enterprise Development and the centres for e-Science; for Excellence in Leadership (CEL); for the Study of Technology & Organisation (CSTO); International Centre for Research in Accounting (ICRA); Lancaster Centre for Forecasting (LCF); Lancaster Centre for Strategic Management; Lancaster China Management Centre (LCMC); Lancaster Leadership Centre (LLC), Health Leadership Centre (HLC) and Centre for Performance-Led HR (CPHR).

Reputation and rankings

(2013, national)
(2013, world)
(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2014, national)
The Guardian[34]
(2014, national)
Times/Sunday Times[35]
(2014, national)

In the 2011 QS World University Rankings, Lancaster University was ranked 153rd, moving up 28 positions from 2010. In April 2008, Lancaster was ranked 10th in the UK in The Independent Good University Guide 2009.[36] In 2007, The Sunday Times named Lancaster the top university in the north-west of England.[37] Lancaster is also currently top in the North-West of England in The Independent, The Guardian and The Times university guides. Lancaster University Management School is, along with London Business School one of only two 6* Management Schools in the UK. THE World University Rankings 2011 placed Lancaster 124th in the World and 31st for Arts and Humanities.[38] In 2012 The Complete University Guide ranked Lancaster University as being the top university in the UK for Linguistics, ahead of Oxford University and Edinburgh University who were placed 2nd and 3rd respectively.[39] The average entry standard at Lancaster is around 439 UCAS points, with almost all courses requiring at least AAA or AAB at A-level.

Joint programmes

Lancaster University has entered into a dual degree program with the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Lahore. It simultaneously offers two degrees, from CIIT and Lancaster University. Students will be alumni of both Universities.This is the first programme between a UK and a Pakistani university.[40] [41]


In 2012, Lancaster University announced a partnership with the UK's biggest arms company, (BAE Systems), and four other North-Western universities (Liverpool, Salford, UCLAN and Manchester) in order to work on the Gamma Programme which aims to develop "autonomous systems". According to the University of Liverpool when referring to the programme, "autonomous systems are technology based solutions that replace humans in tasks that are mundane, dangerous and dirty, or detailed and precise, across sectors, including aerospace, nuclear, automotive and petrochemicals".[42]

Student life

Students' Union

Lancaster University Students' Union ("LUSU") is the representative body of students at the university. Unusually, there is no main union building – instead the union is organised through the eight college JCRs, each of which has its own social venues and meeting spaces. The union is, however, allocated an administration building by the university. Scan is the Students' Union newspaper. LUSU owns a nightclub in Lancaster called The Sugarhouse, operates two shops on the campus on LUSU Shop and LUSU Central and also an off campus housing agency LUSU Living.

LUSU also helps to support LUSU Involve, which is one of the leading volunteering units in Higher Education institutions in the UK. It provides unique, valuable and effective opportunities for Lancaster University students to improve their skills by engaging with the local and international community.

There are over 200 different societies operating within the University of Lancaster. Common areas include sports, hobbies, politics, academic, culture and religion. There are several fairs during the freshers period in which various clubs and societies promote themselves. Bailrigg FM is the student radio station and Lancaster University Cinema is the student union's on-campus cinema, based in Bowland College Lecture Theatre.


Every summer term the students take part in the Roses Tournament against the University of York. The venue of the event alternates annually between Lancaster and York. Other sporting activities are focused on inter-college competition rather than on national leagues. The colleges compete for the Carter Shield and the George Wyatt Cup. In 2004 the Founder's Trophy was played for the first time between the university's two founding colleges, Bowland and Lonsdale. The university also has a representative club, Furness Rovers, in division 2 of the North Lancashire and District Football League.

Lancaster University Athletics Club (LUAC) was formed in May 2011. The start of the 2011/12 academic year saw the first athletes join the club and by the end of the year receive awards for LUSU 'Society of the Year 2012' and were winners of the Lancaster Athletics Cup 2012. This academic year (2012/13) the club has been given the opportunity to compete in BUCS and Roses along with other sporting societies at Lancaster University.[43]

Religious groups

The Islamic Prayer Rooms are located across from the Chaplaincy Centre, in Ash House. There are Mormon, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Bahá'í and Pagan societies which hold regular events and meetings.

Notable people



  • Robin Chater, Educational Research, 1976,Bowland, Sec-General: Federation of European Employers
  • Jon Moulton, Chemistry, 1973, Furness - Founder, Better Capital
  • Antony Burgmans, Marketing, 1971, Bowland - Former Chairman of Unilever (until 2007)
  • Mark Price, Classics & Archaeology, 1982, Bowland - Managing Director of Waitrose
  • Bruce Sewell, Psychology, 1979, Bowland - Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Apple
  • Nahed Taher, Economics, 2001, Graduate College - CEO, Gulf One Investment


  • James May, Music, 1985, Pendle - Television presenter
  • Robert Fisk, English Literature, 1968, Lonsdale - Middle East correspondent, The Independent
  • Richard Allinson, Economics, 1980, Fylde - Radio presenter


Politics and law

  • Simon Danczuk, Sociology, 1992, Cartmel - MP for Rochdale
  • Alan Campbell, Politics, 1978, Furness - MP for Tynemouth
  • Hilton Dawson, Social Admin, 1982, Pendle - Former MP for Lancaster
  • Rami Hamdallah, Linguistics, 1988, Graduate College - Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority
  • Joan Humble, History, 1972, Lonsdale - Former MP for Blackpool North & Fleetwood
  • Alan Milburn, History, 1979, Pendle - Former MP for Darlington
  • Colin Pickthall, Creative Writing, 1967, Lonsdale - Former MP for Lancashire West
  • Helen Southworth MP, English, 1978, Lonsdale - Former MP for Warrington South


  • Jason Queally MBE, Biological Sciences, 1992, PhD Biological Sciences, Bowland - Cyclist


  • Alfred Morris, Accounting and Finance, 1970, Graduate College- Former Vice-Chancellor of University of West of England (until 2006)



  • Masterplan 2007–2017 Part 1
  • Masterplan 2007–2017 Part 2

External links

  • Lancaster University – Official website

Coordinates: 54°00′37″N 2°47′08″W / 54.01028°N 2.78556°W / 54.01028; -2.78556

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