University College London

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University College London
Motto Cuncti adsint meritaeque expectent praemia palmae</br>Let all come who by merit most deserve reward
Established 1826
Type Public
Endowment £90 million [1]
Provost Prof. Malcolm Grant
Faculty 3,800
Undergraduates 11,000
Postgraduates 7,273
Location London
Campus Urban
Affiliations University of London, Russell Group, LERU, EUA, ACU, 'Golden Triangle'

University College London, commonly known as UCL, is one of the colleges that make up the University of London. There are 21,800 staff and students at UCL, making the college larger than most universities in the United Kingdom. It is a member of the Russell Group of Universities, and a part of the Golden Triangle along with Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, and Imperial [2] (the three points consisting of Oxford, Cambridge and London (UCL/LSE/IC)). UCL consistently ranks among the top five universities in the UK league tables and in the top thirty global universities. It has an annual turnover of over £550m, and accounts for more than 40% of the Russell Group's research funding. On September 27 2005 UCL was granted the power to award its own degrees, although it continues to award degrees of the University of London.

The main part of the college is located in Bloomsbury, central London, on Gower Street. The area in and around Bloomsbury is also occupied by a constellation of other renowned institutions, including, the British Museum, the British Library, the British Medical Association, the University of London and its schools and institutes, including SOAS, Birkbeck College and the Schools of Advanced Study. The nearest stations on the London Underground are Euston, Euston Square and Warren Street.


[edit] History

[edit] Jeremy Bentham

The Jeremy Bentham auto-icon

The philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832) is considered to be the spiritual and biological father of UCL as he played a major role in the development of the college. Whilst he is often credited with founding the college, Jeremy Bentham played no part in the establishment of the institution. Jeremy Bentham was a strong advocate for making higher education more widely available, and is often linked with the University's early adoption of a policy of making all courses available to anyone (who could pay the fees) regardless of sex, religion or political beliefs.

A further reason for Jeremy Bentham's fame within UCL is due to the fact that his body is on display to the public. Jeremy Bentham specified in his will that he wanted his body to be preserved as a lasting memorial, and this instruction was duly carried out. This 'Auto-Icon' has become famous. Unfortunately, when it came to preserving his head, the process went disastrously wrong and left the head badly disfigured. A wax head was made to replace it, but for many years the real head sat between his legs. However, this head was frequently stolen and subjected to many student pranks, with students from rival King's College London often the culprits. The head is said to have at one time been found in a luggage locker at Aberdeen station, and was even rumoured to have been used as a football by King's students in the Quad. These events led to the head being removed from display and placed instead in the College vaults, where it remains to this day.

Other rumours surrounding the Auto-Icon are that the box containing his remains is wheeled into senior college meetings, and that he is then listed in minutes as 'present but not voting'. He is also said to have a vote on the council, but only when the vote is split, and that he always votes in favour of the motion. When the Upper Refectory was refurbished in 2003, the room became renamed the Jeremy Bentham Room (sometimes abbreviated JBR) in tribute to the man.

[edit] Founding and development

Image:The London University by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd 1827-28.JPG
University College's main building in the late 1820s.

UCL was founded in 1826 under the name "University of London" as a secular alternative to the strictly religious universities of Oxford and Cambridge. It was founded from the beginning as a University, not a College or Institute. However its founders encountered strong opposition from the Church of England which prevented them from securing the Royal Charter that was necessary for the award of degrees, and it was not until 1836, when the University of London was established, that the college was legally recognised and granted the power to award degrees of the University of London<ref>Whether or not UCL is the third oldest university in England is open to some debate. Within England, other higher education institutions can trace institutional ancestry before they were formed as universities, for example what is now the University of Nottingham can trace some elements back to 1798. However, Nottingham only received its Royal Charter (conferring university status) in 1948, making it younger as a university. Conversely, King's College London (KCL) was founded after UCL, but received its Royal Charter before UCL, so arguably KCL is older. This is further confounded by the fact that technically neither UCL nor KCL are universities in their own right (though they are de facto), but members of the federal University of London. All that can really be said is that UCL was part of a rapid expansion of universities in the UK, which also included the University of Durham (founded by Act of Parliament in 1832). UCL was unique in the fact that it was secular.</ref>.

The College was the first UK higher education institution to accept students of any race or religious or political belief. It was possibly the first to accept women on equal terms with men (the University of Bristol also makes this claim - as both were admitting students to University of London degrees at the time, it is quite possible that this was a simultaneous action), the first in England to establish a students' union (although men and women had separate unions until 1954), and the first to have professorships in chemical engineering, chemistry, Egyptology, electrical engineering, English, French, geography, German, Italian, papyrology, phonetics, psychology, and zoology.

In 1907 the University of London was reconstituted and many of the colleges, including UCL, lost their separate legal existence. This continued until 1977 when a new charter restored UCL's independence. In 1985 the main Gower Street building was finally finished - 158 years after the foundations were laid.

In 1973, UCL became the first international link to the ARPANET, the precursor of today's internet. UCL was also one of the first universities in the world to conduct space research. It is the driving force of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory managed by UCL's Department of Space and Climate Physics.

In August 1998 the medical school at UCL merged with The Royal Free Hospital Medical School to create the new Royal Free and University College Medical School. This, together with the incorporation of several major postgraduate medical institutes (Institute of Child Health, Institute of Neurology, Eastman Dental Institute and the Institute of Ophthalmology) make UCL one of the leading centres for biomedical research in the world. Indeed, 65% of UCL's turnover resides within biomedicine. 10 Nobel Laureates in Physiology and Medicine either studied at or carried out their research at UCL. UCL is particularly strong in cell biology, neuroscience, physiology, pediatrics, neurology and ophthalmology. UCL's strengths in biomedicine will be significantly augmented with the move of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) from Mill Hill to UCL. Founded in 1913 and the Medical Research Council’s first and largest laboratory, its scientists have garnered five Nobel prizes. NIMR today employs over 700 scientists and has an annual budget of £27 million.

Even today UCL retains its strict secular position, and unlike most other UK universities has no designated Muslim prayer rooms, although it has recently (2005) gained a Christian chaplaincy. Due to this, in general, secularistic attitude, UCL has also been known as "the godless institution of Gower Street". However, there is no restriction on religious groups among students, and a quiet room allows prayer for staff and students of all faiths. The very reason for secularity was that students of different denominations (specifically Catholics and Protestants) could study alongside each other without conflict. The tradition is continued today, where many of the students who attend UCL come from London, and reflect both its ethnic and religious diversity.

Newton's Principia, of which UCL has a first edition

The UCL Library is famous in its own right, its collection including a first edition of Newton's Principia.

In October 2002, a plan to merge UCL with Imperial College London was announced by the universities. The merger was widely seen as a de facto takeover of UCL by Imperial College and was opposed by both staff and UCL Union, the students' union; but what particularly angered many staff and students was the perceived lack of consultation before the proposal was made. At an Emergency meeting organised by University College London Union to discuss the merger and the union's stance on it, the then provost Sir Derek Roberts stormed out of the Bloomsbury theatre, refusing to listen to a speaker who opposed the merger. He himself had just finished delivering a speech in favour. One month later after a vigorous campaign the merger was called off.

On 1 August 2003, Professor Malcolm Grant took the role of President and Provost (the principal of UCL), taking over from Sir Derek Roberts, who had been called out of retirement as a caretaker provost for the college.

Shortly after his inauguration, UCL began the 'Campaign for UCL' initiative, in 2004. It aimed to raise £300m from alumni and friends. This kind of explicit campaigning is traditionally unusual for UK universities, and is similar to US university funding. UCL had a financial endowment in the top ten among UK universities at £81m, according to the Sutton Trust (2002). Professor Malcolm Grant has also aimed to enhance UCL's global links, declaring UCL London's Global University. Significant interactions with France's Ecole Normale, Columbia University, NYU, University of Texas and universities in Osaka, Japan have developed during the first few years of his tenure as provost.

UCL was named Sunday Times University of the Year in 2004. The Sunday Times 2005 University Guide describes UCL as "physically and academically at the centre of the University of London. Mergers with a number of medical and other academic schools have created a multidisciplinary college that rivals Oxford and Cambridge for breadth, exclusivity and cutting-edge teaching and research."

Following a similar move by Imperial College London, UCL applied to the Privy Council for the power to award degrees in its own right. This was granted in September 2005 although the powers are being held in reserve and will only be used should the college find it necessary to change its status within the federation of the University of London.

In January 2006, UCL decided to become a member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), a network of research-intensive universities with common viewpoints on higher education and research policy. Membership of LERU, which is by invitation, is periodically evaluated against a broad set of quantitative and qualitative criteria, such as research volume, impact and funding, strengths in PhD training, size and disciplinary breadth, and peer-recognised academic excellence. Professor Malcolm Grant, President and Provost of UCL, said:

"European research universities have common values and common cause, and we welcome this opportunity to become part of so outstanding a network of research institutions. I think that groupings such as this are particularly important at a time when the EU is thinking seriously about the function of research-intensive universities, about the European Research Commission and a possible European Institute of Technology. It also reflects UCL's global vision and our extensive collaborative engagement with continental universities through research and student exchanges, including the recently announced programme in neurosciences with three Parisian institutions."

[edit] Famous alumni

See also List of UCL Alumni

UCL alumni include legions of the "Great and Good", ranging from Mahatma Gandhi to the members of Coldplay and Ricky Gervais. A historical bent towards the arts has tended to mean a higher output of authors, including Robert Browning and Raymond Briggs, than scientists and engineers, although it still has its fair share, such as Francis Crick, John Ambrose Fleming, Colin Chapman, and perhaps most notably Alexander Graham Bell. Politicians figure highly in the lists, notably both the first prime minister of Japan, Hirobumi Ito and the former Japanese Prime-Minister Junichiro Koizumi. In recent years UCL fooball fields have been graced by the renowned talent that is Tom OsPorn.

[edit] UCL buildings

UCL operates in many separate buildings. Whilst most of the buildings are concentrated in the Bloomsbury area of Central London (near Euston station), others can be found as far away as Old Street. Some of the buildings have been acquired through mergers with other colleges, and others have been newly built. The newest include the Engineering Wing on Malet Place and the Andrew Huxley Building within the Gower Street Site. UCL's newest buildings include the London Centre for Nanotechnology on Gordon Street, aimed for completion in 2006 and a new building for the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (formerly at Senate House) which was opened (by Princess Anne and the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus) in October 2005 on Taviton Street. The Institute of Ophthalmology opened a new wing in 2005 funded by the Wellcome Trust. The Institute of Cancer Sciences is currently undergoing construction at the site of the disused Nurses' Home on Huntley Street and is due for completion by early 2006.

Image:UCL Portico Building.jpg
The UCL Main Building
Image:UCL Bedford Way.jpg
UCL Bedford Way - The Psychology and Geography Departments
Image:UCL Frances Gardner House.jpg
UCL Newest House Hall of Residence - Frances Gardner
Image:UCL Flaxman Gallery and sculpture.jpg
The Flaxman Gallery of UCL main library in the Octagon building
Image:UCL Flaxman Gallery and Jeremy Bentham.jpg
Jeremy Bentham overseeing the construction of UCL in the Flaxman gallery

Notable buildings:

  • The UCL Main Building, including the Octagon, Quad, Cloisters and the Wilkins building designed by Architect William Wilkins
  • 1-19 Torrington Place
  • Alexandra House (17 Queen Square) Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit
  • Arthur Tattersall House (Gower Street)
  • Astor College (99 Charlotte St)
  • Bedford Way Buildings
  • Bentham House (Endsleigh Street)
  • Bernard Johnson House (78 Fortis Green)
  • The UCL Bloomsbury Theatre
  • Campbell House East and West (Taviton Street)
  • Chadwick House
  • The Cruciform Building - a red-brick building notable for being built in a cross shape (Medicine)
  • Drayton House
  • Engineering Building (Malet Place) renamed to Roberts building in 2005
  • Ifor Evans & Max Rayne Student Residences (Camden Road)
  • Foster Court (Languages)
  • Frances Gardner House and Langton Close (Gray's Inn Road)
  • Christopher Ingold Building (Gordon Street)
  • Institute of Archaeology (Gordon Square)
  • London Centre for Nanotechnology (Gordon Street)
  • Medawar (named after Peter Medawar)
  • Ramsay Hall Student Residence (Maple Street)
  • Institute of Ophthalmology Buildings (Old Street)
  • Rayne Buildings
  • Rockefeller (Science)
  • Schafer House Student Residence (Drummond Street)
  • University College Hospital (recently re-built)
  • UCLU (Gordon Street)
  • Wates House (Endsleigh Gardens)
  • DMS Watson Science Library
  • The Malet Place Engineering Building (completed in 2005, primarily Computer Science and Medical Physics departments)
  • The department of Haematology in Chenies Mews converted from an old dance studio

[edit] Museums and collections

UCL is responsible for several museums and collections in a wide range of fields across the arts and sciences:

  • 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.
  • 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, under whom Charles Robert Darwin studied. Open at limited fixed times and by appointment.
  • Geology Collections: founded around 1855. Primarily a teaching resource and may be visited by appointment.
  • Art Collections: these date from 1847 when a collection of sculpture models and drawings of the Neo-classical 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.
  • 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.

UCL is developing a new facility called The Panopticon which will allow public access to its collections to be greatly improved. UCL Library's Special Collections, which encompass a large and diverse collection of rare books, incunabula and medieval manuscripts, including Jewish Collections of over 15,000 items, will also move into the new building. The Panopticon will feature permanent galleries for the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, galleries devoted to the Art and Library Special Collections, a gallery for temporary exhibitions from the other collections, lecture theatres and study rooms. Planning permission was granted in 2004 and it is scheduled to open in 2009.

[edit] Campus networking

UCL provides students and staff with wired and wireless internet access at a number of locations on campus, through a service called RoamNet. However, access to this service requires the use of a proprietary Cisco VPN client, which is not supported on handhelds, non-Intel GNU/Linux systems, or other alternative platforms.

UCL provides computer "cluster rooms" to provide free internet and computer access for its students, using a managed Windows environment referred to as "WTS" (Windows Terminal Service). An interesting fact is that these student computers are actually part of a large Condor cluster, and when not being used, they may well be running algorithms on behalf of researchers at UCL and elsewhere.

From early 2006, UCL has also started to operate a remote login system for students to access WTS from home, called Remote WTS. Similar services had previously been available for some departments (such as Computer Science), but unlike previous systems, Remote WTS allows students to access exactly the same desktop and software from home (or elsewhere) as they can access on campus.

UCL user names are seemingly random 7-character codes (e.g. "ucxxxxx") although they follow a pattern based on the user's home department, staff/student status, and personal name. Network users in student halls are not allowed to: participate in IRC, network game playing, or chain mail; host services such as HTTP, mail, FTP, NNTP, or telnet; run software that uses RPC-based services (such as NFS) or IP multicast services; connect more than one machine at a time to a single network jack, or attach any device other than their personal workstation to the jack. Plugging a machine into another active port without authorization will cause a security violation, and the port will be disabled. In order to use the Internet in halls of residence, students must purchase an Internet Connection Voucher (available online from Information Systems ( or from the UCL Shop) which enables the Ethernet network sockets in the student's room. There are 3 types of vouchers: 4 weeks (priced at £9, and ONLY available online, starting from the date of activation), 16 weeks (priced at £36, starting from the date of activation), and Annual (priced at £70 per year, and valid until 31st August the following year). Vouchers cannot be refunded (once opened) or issued at any discounted price.

[edit] Bloomsbury Television

Bloomsbury Television, also known as BTV, is UCL's student television station. BTV is responsible for broadcasting content over the UCL Union television system, along with content shown by IPTV station SubTV (not to be confused with Finnish SubTV). This represents a viewership of up to 20,000 UCL students, along with students from other colleges of the University of London.

BTV produces original content including news, comedy, and drama. This is done both around the campus and at the Bloomsbury Studio, located in the Bloomsbury Building (Gordon Street).

[edit] Filming at UCL

Due to its position within London and the attractiveness of the front quad, UCL has been frequently used as a location for film and television recording.

[edit] Fiction

[edit] Non-fiction

  • Derren Brown: The Heist, shown at 9.00p.m. on Channel 4 on Wednesday 4th January 2006, featured brief exterior shots of the main Quad and University Street. It was implied one experiment conducted was filmed inside one UCL building, although which one was not established, it was most likely to be the Cruciform Building which is located opposite the Front Quad.
  • BBC News chose to film in and around UCL to provide some of the footage used to cover the news regarding nationwide strike action by university staff when the story finally hit the headlines on Saturday 13th May 2006. Ongoing news coverage of this story has used shots of UCL and two notable maths students Harry Singleton and Ryan Topping, for example on Channel 4 News on Tuesday 6th June 2006.

[edit] Students' accommodation

Many UCL students are accommodated in the college's own halls of residence or other accommodation; UCL students are also eligible to apply for places in the University of London intercollegiate halls of residence, such as Connaught Hall.

Most students in college or university accommodation are first-year undergraduates. The majority of second and third-year students and postgraduates find their own accommodation in the private sector.

There is also limited UCL accommodation available for married students and those with children at Bernard Johnson House, Hawkridge, Neil Sharp House and the University of London's Lilian Penson Hall.

[edit] Trivia

  • Life Thru a Lens, the debut album by Robbie Williams features UCL in the album artwork, including the front cover.
  • There is a pub named the Jeremy Bentham, after the UCL auto-icon, in University Street, London.
  • The current UCL provost, Professor Malcolm Grant, agreed to shave off his moustache if UCL students raised £1500 for Comic Relief, on Red Nose Day, 2005. Unfortunately for his moustache - of 33 years - students and staff duly donated over £2000.
  • The spiritual father of UCL, Jeremy Bentham, is also famous for designing Prisons most notably the Panopticon
  • UCL has a long-running, mostly friendly rivalry with King's College London. UCL is often referred to by students from the latter using nicknames such as the "Godless Scum of Gower Street", in reference to a comment made at the founding of KCL, which was based on Christian principles. UCL students and staff also refer to King's as "Strand Polytechnic" in a similar vein. KCL's mascot, "Reggie", was lost for many years in the 1990s. It was recovered after being found dumped in a field, restored at the cost of around £15,000 and placed on display in the students' union. It is in a glass case and filled with concrete to prevent theft, particularly by UCL students who once castrated it. (KCL, to be fair, had also stolen one UCL mascot, Phineas.) It is often claimed that KCL students played football with the head of Jeremy Bentham. Although the head was indeed stolen, the football story is a myth which is denied by official UCL documentation about Bentham found next to his display case in the college cloisters. The head is now kept in the UCL vaults away from public display.
  • Amongst UCL's many clubs and societies are Rare FM and BTV, both of which broadcast online. Rare FM shows can be listened to live by clicking on the 'Listen Live' tab and selecting your streaming settings at Pre-recorded BTV shows can be watched at
  • Guy Berryman, Jon Buckland, Will Champion, and Chris Martin of the band Coldplay met within the halls of residence during their schooling at UCL.

[edit] External links

[edit] References

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Recognized bodies of the University of London

Birkbeck | Courtauld Institute of Art | Central School of Speech and Drama | Goldsmiths | Heythrop | Imperial | Institute of Cancer Research | Institute of Education | King's | London Business School | LSE | London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Queen Mary | Royal Academy of Music | Royal Holloway | Royal Veterinary College | St George's | SOAS | School of Pharmacy | UCL

Listed bodies

University of London Institute in Paris | School of Advanced Study | University Marine Biological Station, Millport

Russell Group
(of British research universities)
Birmingham | Bristol | Cambridge | Cardiff | Edinburgh | Glasgow | Imperial College London | King's College London | Leeds | Liverpool | London School of Economics | Manchester | Newcastle | Nottingham | Oxford | Queen's | Sheffield | Southampton | University College London | Warwick

Coordinates: 51°31′29.24″N, 00°08′00.88″Wcs:University College London de:University College London es:University College de Londres fr:University College de Londres it:University College di Londra nl:University College London ja:ユニヴァーシティ・カレッジ・ロンドン no:University College London fi:University College London sv:University College London tr:University College London zh:伦敦大学学院

University College London

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