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Who we are

The University of London is the UK’s leading provider of digital and blended distance education internationally, offering programmes to 45,000 students in 190 countries around the world. Although proudly rooted in London, our community and impact are global.
 
We are a national leader in the humanities, and we promote their value to society and the economy through knowledge creation and exchange.
 
We are also a federation of 17 esteemed higher education institutions, with collaboration at the heart of our ethos. The University of London federation is a collective community of more than 240,000 learners and 50,000 staff, delivering world-leading research across all disciplines.
 
Our passion for increasing access to education and mobilising the collective power and expertise of the federation is central to our ability to transform lives around the world and address the global challenges of the future.

We are Global video
You can study with the University of London anywhere in the world.

Our timeline

  • 1836 The University of London is incorporated by Royal Charter
  • 1858 The University of London pioneers long distance learning by allowing students to study for degrees outside of London
  • 1859 University of London examinations are first held outside London, in Liverpool and Manchester
  • 1865 The University of London’s first overseas examinations are held at Royal College, Mauritius
  • 1868 Women are first admitted to sit the ‘special examination’ at the University of London, marking the first time  that women could access university education in the UK
  • 1873 The first University of London students to obtain degrees after taking examinations overseas graduate in Mauritius
  • 1878 The University of London becomes the first UK university to open full degrees for women
  • 1894 Edith Williams establishes the Franco-English Guild, now known as the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP)
  • 1906 University of London graduate Louise Creighton begins to campaign for women’s suffrage in the UK
  • 1916 T.S. Eliot becomes a tutor on the University of London’s Extension Programme
  • 1932 King George V lays the foundation stone of Senate House, which was completed over a period of five years
  • 1939 Senate House is taken over by the Ministry of Information during World War II
  • 1942 University of London examinations are first held in German prisoner of war camps. The University coordinated arrangements for over 6,000 papers over the next three years
  • 1948 Lillian Penson (BBK, QMUL, RHUL, UCL) is appointed as the first woman Vice-Chancellor of the University of London
  • 1955 Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother becomes Chancellor of the University of London
  • 1963 Nelson Mandela passes University of London Intermediate examinations as an External student while in prison awaiting trial
  • 1970 The University of Zimbabwe is the last of seven non-UK institutions to become an independent university after a period of ‘special relation’ with the University of London
  • 1981 HRH The Princess Royal becomes Chancellor of the University of London
  • 1987 Contracts between the University of London and individual colleges are signed, establishing the concept of the ‘Lead College’
  • 2001 The University of London’s Online Library is launched
  • 2005 The University of London Centre for Distance Education is established
  • 2013 The University of London International Programmes launches its first massive open online course (MOOC) programme on the Coursera platform
  • 2019 Registrations open for the University of London’s fully online BSc Computer Science programmes
  • 2021 The University of London celebrates HRH The Princess Royal’s 40th anniversary as Chancellor

Our purpose

Founded on the ideals of inclusivity, diversity and collaboration, the University of London is a pioneering institution committed to increasing access to education, championing research excellence and delivering social good.

Grounded by a sense of community and the notion that collective expertise and power can transform people’s lives, what makes us unique is our ability to impart the power of learning, sharing and connection at an unparalleled scale.

Together, we are diverse, but with a common purpose. We are comprised of students, academics and staff from all walks of life, but form one inclusive community. We have a footprint in more than 190 countries, but act as one global network. We are a collective of 17 Member Institutions, acting as one Federation.

We are many, we are one.

Our Federation of Member Institutions

When studying with us you belong to a particular Member Institution as well as the University of London.

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Our Federation of Member Institutions

We are a federation of 17 independent Member Institutions of outstanding global reputation, ranging from larger universities such as UCL or King’s College London to smaller specialised institutions such as the Royal Academy of Music or the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Our students

The University of London is a world-leading university with more than 45,000 students studying across more than 190 countries. We offer a range of flexible and affordable learning opportunities to study in London, at our institute in Paris, independently anywhere in the world, or with one of our trusted global network of Recognised Teaching Centres.  

Our programmes are accessible and designed by academics who are leaders in their field. We are a pioneering institution committed to increasing access to education, and we enhance students’ employability through industry-relevant programmes and outstanding careers support. 

Our graduates become part of our global network of influential alumni, which includes distinguished politicians, leaders in industry and Nobel Prize winners.

Find out more

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Our strategy

Through our pioneering education and research infrastructure, we empower our diverse academic community to positively transform lives and society. 

Our strategic aim is to enrich our academic work in the pursuit of excellence in education, research and knowledge exchange through collaboration with our Member Institutions; developing academic programmes, networks and partnerships that further our federation’s goals across London, the UK and internationally.

Chancellor HRH The Princess Royal speaks at the graduation ceremony

Our people

The University of London community is united by a strong sense of social good, both for individuals and society as a whole.

We are committed to widening access to higher education and world-class training opportunities, so that everyone, regardless of their background, can experience the transformational power of education.  We believe in the power of community and collaboration, harnessing the collective power of our Federation, our Staff and our global network to drive innovation and advocate for public and social good.

Sir William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Burlington (later 7th Duke of Devonshire), Chancellor 1930

Our history

We are proud of our rich heritage as one of the world’s most academically and socially pioneering educational institutions. Faced with an increasingly complex and rapidly changing global landscape, we are set to mobilise our worldwide community, as we have done with pride in the past, to help address some of today’s most pressing issues. 

A student researching in Senate House library

Our research

The University of London is a national leader in the humanities: our School of Advanced Study is the only UK institution that is nationally funded by Research England to promote and facilitate humanities research. We steer the national conversation through knowledge exchange and public engagement, contributing creativity and inspiration from across the world to a growing economy, a constructive civil discourse and a rich cultural infrastructure for the UK.