The London School of Economics was founded in 1895 by Beatrice and Sidney Webb, initially funded by a bequest of £20,000 from the estate of Henry Hunt Hutchinson. Hutchinson, a lawyer and member of the Fabian Society, left the money in trust, to be put "towards advancing its [The Fabian Society's] objects in any way they [the trustees] deem advisable". The five trustees were Sidney Webb, Edward Pease, Constance Hutchinson, William de Mattos and William Clark.
LSE records that the proposal to establish the school was conceived during a breakfast meeting on 4 August 1894, between the Webbs, Graham Wallas and George Bernard Shaw. The proposal was accepted by the trustees in February 1895 and LSE held its first classes in October of that year, in rooms at 9 John Street, Adelphi, in the City of Westminster.
The School joined the federal University of London in 1900, and was recognised as a Faculty of Economics of the university. The University of London degrees of BSc (Econ) and DSc (Econ) were established in 1901, the first university degrees dedicated to the social sciences. Expanding rapidly over the following years, the school moved initially to the nearby 10 Adelphi Terrace, then to Clare Market and Houghton Street. The foundation stone of the Old Building, on Houghton Street, was laid by King George V in 1920; the building was opened in 1922.
The 1930s economic debate between LSE and Cambridge is well known in academic circles. Rivalry between academic opinion at LSE and Cambridge goes back to the school's roots when LSE's Edwin Cannan (1861–1935), Professor of Economics, and Cambridge's Professor of Political Economy, Alfred Marshall (1842–1924), the leading economist of the day, argued about the bedrock matter of economics and whether the subject should be considered as an organic whole. (Marshall disapproved of LSE's separate listing of pure theory and its insistence on economic history.)
The dispute also concerned the question of the economist's role, and whether this should be as a detached expert or a practical adviser. Despite the traditional view that the LSE and Cambridge were fierce rivals through the 1920s and 30s, they worked together in the 1920s on the London and Cambridge Economic Service. However, the 1930s brought a return to disputes as economists at the two universities argued over how best to address the economic problems caused by the Great Depression.
The main figures in this debate were John Maynard Keynes from Cambridge and the LSE's Lionel Robbins and Friedrich Hayek. Starting off as a disagreement over whether demand management or deflation was the better solution to the economic problems of the time, it eventually embraced much wider concepts of economics and macroeconomics. Keynes put forward the theories now known as Keynesian economics, involving the active participation of the state and public sector, while Hayek and Robbins followed the Austrian School, which emphasised free trade and opposed state involvement.
During World War II, the School decamped from London to the University of Cambridge, occupying buildings belonging to Peterhouse.
The School's arms, including its motto and beaver mascot, were adopted in February 1922, on the recommendation of a committee of twelve, including eight students, which was established to research the matter. The Latin motto, "Rerum cognoscere causas", is taken from Virgil's Georgics. Its English translation is "to Know the Causes of Things" and it was suggested by Professor Edwin Cannan. The beaver mascot was selected for its associations with "foresight, constructiveness and industrious behaviour".
LSE continues to have a wide impact within British society, through its relationships and influence in politics, business and law. The Guardian described such influence in 2005 when it stated:
Once again the political clout of the school, which seems to be closely wired into parliament, Whitehall and the Bank of England, is being felt by ministers.... The strength of LSE is that it is close to the political process: Mervyn King, was a former LSE professor. The chairman of the House of Commons education committee, Barry Sheerman, sits on its board of governors, along with Labour peer Lord (Frank) Judd. Also on the board are Tory MPs Virginia Bottomley and Richard Shepherd, as well as Lord Saatchi and Lady Howe.
Commenting in 2001 on the rising status of the LSE, the British magazine The Economist stated that "two decades ago the LSE was still the poor relation of the University of London's other colleges. Now... it regularly follows Oxford and Cambridge in league tables of research output and teaching quality and is at least as well-known abroad as Oxbridge". According to the magazine, the School "owes its success to the single-minded, American-style exploitation of its brand name and political connections by the recent directors, particularly Mr Giddens and his predecessor, John Ashworth", and raises money from foreign students' high fees, which are attracted by academic stars such as Richard Sennett.
As of 2006, the School was active in opposing British government proposals to introduce compulsory ID cards, researching into the associated costs of the scheme, and shifting public and government opinion on the issue. The institution is also popular with politicians and MPs to launch new policy, legislation and manifesto pledges, prominently with the launch of the Liberal Democrats Manifesto Conference under Nick Clegg on 12 January 2008.
In the early 2010s, its academics have been at the forefront of both national and international government consultations, reviews and policy, including representation on the UK Airports Commission, Independent Police Commission, Migration Advisory Committee, UN Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, London Finance Commission, HS2 Limited, the UK government's Infrastructure Commission and advising on Architecture and Urbanism for the London 2012 Olympics
Craig Calhoun took up the post of Director in September 2012. Its previous Director, Judith Rees, is also chair of the school's Grantham Institute on Climate Change, an adviser to the World Bank as well as sitting on the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation and the International Scientific Advisory Council (ISAC). She is also a former Convenor of the Department of Geography and Environment, and served as Deputy Director from 1998–2004.
In 2013, the LSE was caught in a furore over a BBC Panorama documentary on North Korea, filmed inside the repressive regime by undercover journalists attached to a trip by the LSE's Grimshaw Society, a student society of the international relations department. The trip had been sanctioned by high-level North Korean officials. The trip caused international media attention, as a BBC journalist was posing as a part of LSE. There was debate as to where this put the student's lives in jeopardy in the repressive regime if a reporter had been exposed. The North Korea government made hostile threats towards the students and LSE, after the publicity, which forced an apology from the BBC.
In February of 2016, Calhoun announced his intention to step down at the end of the academic year, in order to become president of the Berggruen Institute. In September of 2016, Bank of England Deputy Governor Nemat Shafik was announced as LSE's new president; she is set to assume the position in September, 2017.
Calhoun's predecessor, Sir Howard Davies stepped down after controversy regarding the school's links to the Libyan regime. In February 2011, LSE had to face the consequences of awarding a PhD to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, one of Muammar Gaddafi's sons, while accepting a £1.5m donation to the university from his family.
In March 2011, Howard Davies resigned over allegations about the institution's links to the Libyan regime. The LSE announced in a statement that it had accepted his resignation with "great regret" and that it had set up an external inquiry into the school's relationship with the Libyan regime and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, to be conducted by the former lord chief justice Harry Woolf.
In August 2015, it was revealed that the university was paid approximately £40,000 for a "glowing report" for Camila Batmanghelidjh's charity, Kids Company. The study was used by Batmanghelidjh to prove that the charity provided good value for money and was well managed. However, the university did not disclose that the study was funded by the charity and claims made by the report have since been discredited.
Since 1902, LSE has been based at Clare Market and Houghton Street in Westminster. It is surrounded by a number of important institutions including the Royal Courts of Justice, Lincoln's Inn, Royal College of Surgeons, Sir John Soane's Museum, British Museum, London's Theatreland and the shops of Covent Garden and the West End. It lies near The City of London financial district and the Houses of Parliament.
In 1920, King George V laid the foundation of the Old Building, which remains the principal building on campus, though the focus of the campus has moved towards the adjacent Lincoln's Inn Fields in recent years. The campus now occupies an almost continuous group of around 30 buildings between Kingsway and the Aldwych. Alongside teaching and academic space, the institution also owns 11 student halls of residence across London, two public houses, a West End theatre (the Peacock), early years centre, NHS medical centre and extensive sports ground in Berrylands, south London. The School's campus is noted for its numerous public art installations which include Richard Wilson's Square the Block, Michael Brown's Blue Rain, Christopher Le Brun's Desert Window.
Since the early 2000s, the entire campus has undergone an extensive refurbishment project and a major fund-raising "Campaign for LSE" raised over £100 million in what was one of the largest university fund-raising exercises outside North America. This process was begun with the £35 million renovation of the Lionel Robbins Building by Sir Norman Foster to house the British Library of Political and Economic Science (BLPES), the world's largest social science and political library and the second largest single entity library in Britain, after the British Library at King's Cross.
In 2003, LSE purchased the former Public Trustee building at 24 Kingsway, and engaged Sir Nicholas Grimshaw to redesign it into an ultra-modern educational facility at a total cost of over £45 million – increasing the size of the campus by 120,000 square feet (11,000 m2). The New Academic Building opened for teaching in October 2008, with an official opening by Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on 5 November 2008. In November 2009 the School purchased the adjacent Sardinia House to house three academic departments and the nearby Old White Horse public house, before acquiring the freehold of the grade-II listed Land Registry Building at 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields in October 2010, which was reopened in March 2013 by HRH The Princess Royal as the new home for the Department of Economics, International Growth Centre and its associated economic research centres.
The first new building on the site for more than 40 years, the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, opened in January 2014 following an architectural design competition managed by RIBA Competitions. The building provides new accommodation for the LSE Students' Union, LSE accommodation office and LSE careers service as well as a bar, events space, gymnasium, rooftop terrace, learning café, dance studio and media centre. The building, designed as a showpiece for the City of Westminster and Midtown was recognised as having a low environmental impact receiving an 'Outstanding' status under BREEAM, and in 2012 was one of three winners of the New London Award in the Education category. In May 2014 the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre won the RIBA London Building of the Year Award.
It is currently embarking on redevelopment and expansion with the development of a £120 million new facility designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners following the completion of a global design competition managed by RIBA Competitions. Once complete in 2018 the new development - the Global Centre for the Social Sciences - will house the Departments of Government, International Relations and the European Institute and feature a new square at the centre of the campus.
In September 2013, LSE purchased the freehold of 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields, previously the home of the Francis Crick Institute's laboratories until 2016. The building will be demolished in 2017 to make way for the new Paul Marshall Building which will house academic departments (Management, Accounting and Finance), sports facilities and the new Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship. In 2015 it brought its ownership of buildings on Lincoln's Inn Fields to six with the purchase of 5 Lincoln's Inn Fields on the north side of the square.
LSE is situated in the City of Westminster between Covent Garden, Aldwych and Temple Bar, bordering the City of London. It encompasses much of Lincoln's Inn Fields and lies adjacent to the Royal Courts of Justice and Kingsway on what used to be Clare Market. The School lies within the London Congestion Charge zone.
The nearest London Underground stations are Holborn, Temple and Covent Garden. Charing Cross, at the Trafalgar Square end of Strand, and the City Thameslink entrance at Ludgate Hill are the nearest mainline stations, whilst London Waterloo is a walk or bus across the River Thames. Buses to Aldwych, Kingsway and the Royal Courts of Justice contain stops which are designated as 'alight here for LSE'.
Although LSE is a constituent college of the federal University of London, it is in many ways comparable with free-standing, self-governing and independently funded universities, and it awards its own degrees.
LSE is incorporated under the Companies Act as a company limited by guarantee and is an exempt charity within the meaning of Schedule Two of the Charities Act 1993. The principal governance bodies of the LSE are: the LSE Council; the Court of Governors; the Academic Board; and the Director and Director’s Management Team.
The LSE Council is responsible for strategy and its members are company directors of the school. It has specific responsibilities in relation to areas including: the monitoring of institutional performance; finance and financial sustainability; audit arrangements; estate strategy; human resource and employment policy; health and safety; "educational character and mission", and student experience. The council is supported in carrying out its role by a number of committees which report directly to it.
The Court of Governors deals with certain constitutional matters and has pre-decision discussions on key policy issues and the involvement of individual governors in the school's activities. The court has the following formal powers: the appointment of members of court, its subcommittees and of the council; election of the chair and vice chairs of the court and council and honorary fellows of the School; the amendment of the Memorandum and Articles of Association; and the appointment of external auditors.
The Academic Board is LSE's principal academic body, and considers all major issues of general policy affecting the academic life of the School and its development. It is chaired by the director, with staff and student membership, and is supported by its own structure of committees. The Vice Chair of the Academic Board serves as a non-director member of the council and makes a termly report to the Council.
The director is the head of LSE and its chief executive officer, responsible for executive management and leadership on academic issues. Since 2013, the addition of the name 'president' has also been adopted alongside signalling an additional title more widely understood when travelling or undertaking business globally. The director and president reports to and is accountable to the Council. The director is also the accountable officer for the purposes of the Higher Education Funding Council for England Financial Memorandum. The School's current interim Director is the Professor of Law, Julia Black, who is due to stand down on the 1 September 2017 when she will be replaced by Dame Nemat Shafik.
The director and president is supported by a deputy director and provost who oversees the heads of academic departments and institutes, three pro-directors each with designated portfolios (teaching and learning, research and planning and resources) and the School secretary who acts as company secretary.
LSE's research and teaching is organised into a network of independent academic departments established by the LSE Council, the School's governing body, on the advice of the Academic Board, the School's senior academic authority. There are currently 26 academic departments or institutes.
In the financial year ended 31 July 2014, LSE had a total income of £279.1 million (2012/13 – £263.2 million) and total expenditure of £261 million (2012/13 – £232.6 million). Key sources of income included £153.3 million from tuition fees (2012/13 – £139.8 million), £24.4 million from Funding Council grants (2012/13 – £26.6 million), £27 million from research grants (2012/13 – £23.7 million) and £5.8 million from endowment and investment income (2012/13 – £7.7 million). During the 2013/14 financial year LSE had a capital expenditure of £95 million.
Unlike many other British universities, LSE continues to adopt a three-term structure and has not moved to semesters. Michaelmas Term runs from October to mid-December, Lent Term from mid-January to late March and Summer Term from late April to mid-June. Certain departments operate reading weeks in early November and mid-February.
LSE's present 'red block' logo was adopted as part of a rebrand in the early 2000s, before which the school's coat of arms was used exclusively to represent the institution. As a trademarked brand, it is carefully protected but can be produced in various forms to reflect different requirements. In its full form it contains the full name of the institution to the right of the block with a further small empty red square at the end, but it is adapted for each academic department or professional service division to provide a cohesive brand across the institution.
The school's historic coat of arms is still used on official documentation including degree certificates and transcripts and includes the motto – rerum cognoscere causas, a line taken from Virgil’s Georgics meaning "to know the causes of things", together with the school's mascot – a beaver. Both these symbols, adopted in February 1922, continue to be held in high regard to this day with the beaver chosen because of its representation as "a hard working and industrious yet sociable animal", attributes that the founders hoped LSE students to both possess and aspire to. The school's weekly newspaper is still entitled The Beaver, Rosebery residence hall's bar is called the Tipsy Beaver and LSE sports teams are known as the Beavers. The institution has two sets of colours – brand and academic – red being the brand colour used on signage, publications and in buildings across campus and purple, black and gold for academic purposes including presentation ceremonies and graduation dress.
There are various institutions throughout the world that are in agreement with LSE to award the Diploma in Economics and Social Sciences by LSE after meeting all the academic and institutional requirements along with the use of LSE Logo on their advertising and promotional material.
Admission to LSE is highly competitive: the school receives over 17,000 applications for 1,500 undergraduate places, or over 11.3 applicants per place. All undergraduate applications, including international applications, are made through UCAS. LSE had the 6th highest average entry qualification for undergraduates of any UK university in 2014, with new students averaging 518 UCAS points (pre-2017 tariff), equivalent to just below A*A*AA in A-level grades. The university gives offers of admission to 37.0% of its applicants, the 3rd lowest amongst the Russell Group.
Postgraduate student are required to have (for master's programmes) a first or upper second Class UK honours degree, or its foreign equivalent, while direct entry to the MPhil/PhD programme requires a UK taught master's with merit or foreign equivalent. Admission to the diploma requires as UK degree or equivalent plus relevant experience. The intake to applications ratio for postgraduate programmes varies, from MSc Financial Mathematics with a ratio of just over 4% in 2016 to MSc Political Economy of Europe with a ratio of almost 40% in 2016.
LSE is dedicated solely to the study and research of social sciences, and is the only university in the United Kingdom to be so. LSE awards a range of academic degrees spanning bachelors, masters and PhDs. The post-nominals awarded are the degree abbreviations used commonly among British universities.
The School offers over 140 MSc programmes, 5 MPA programmes, an LLM, 30 BSc programmes, an LLB, 4 BA programmes (including International History and Geography), and 35 PhD programmes. Other subjects pioneered by LSE include anthropology, criminology, social psychology, sociology and social policy; with international relations being first taught as a discipline at LSE. Courses are split across more than thirty research centres and nineteen departments, plus a Language Centre.
Since programmes are all within the social sciences, they closely resemble each other, and undergraduate students usually take at least one course module in a subject outside of their degree for their first and second years of study, promoting a broader education in the social sciences. At undergraduate level, some departments have as few as 90 students across the three years of study. Since September 2010, it has been compulsory for first year undergraduates to participate in LSE 100: Understanding the Causes of Things alongside normal studies.
From 1902, following its absorption into the University of London, and up until 2007, all degrees were awarded by the federal university, in common with all other colleges of the university. This system was changed in 2007 to enable some colleges to award their own degrees. LSE was granted the power to begin awarding its own degrees from July 2008. All students entering from the 2007-8 academic year onwards received an LSE degree, while students who started before this date were issued University of London degrees. In conjunction with NYU Stern and HEC Paris, LSE also offers the TRIUM Executive MBA. This was globally ranked third among executive MBAs by the Financial Times in 2016.
In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, LSE had the joint highest percentage of world-leading research among research submitted of any institution that entered more than one unit of assessment and was ranked third by cumulative grade point average with a score of 3.35, beating both Oxford and Cambridge. It was ranked 23rd in the country for research power by Research Fortnight based on its REF2014 results, and 28th in research power by the Times Higher Education. This followed the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008 where the School was placed second equal nationally on GPA, first for fraction of world-leading (4*) research and fourth for fraction of world-leading or internationally excellent (3* and 4*) research in LSE's analysis of the results, fourth equal for GPA and 29th for research power in Times Higher Education's analysis, and 27th in research power by Research Fortnight's analysis.
According to analysis of the REF 2014 subject results by Times Higher Education, the School is the UK's top research university in terms of GPA of research submitted in business and management; area studies; and communication, cultural and media studies, library and information management, and second in law; politics and international studies; economics and econometrics; and social work and social policy.
The School houses a number of notable centres including the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion, the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, the Centre for Macroeconomics, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE Health and Social Care, the Financial Markets Group (founded by former Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King), the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (chaired by Lord Stern), LSE Cities, the UK Department for International Development funded International Growth Centre and one of the six the UK government-backed 'What Works Centres' – the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth.
In late 2014, LSE hired Erik Berglöf, former Chief Economist and Special Advisor to the EBRD to establish a new Institute of Global Affairs with seven regional research centres focusing on Africa, East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia and the United States. It is joined by the LSE IDEAS think tank, which in a global survey conducted by the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 was jointly ranked as world's second-best university think tanks for the third year running alongside the LSE Public Policy Group, after Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
In February 2015, Angelina Jolie and William Hague launched the UK's first academic Centre on Women, Peace and Security, based at the School. The Centre aims to contribute to global women's rights issues, including the prosecution of war rape and women's engagement in politics, through academic research, a post-graduate teaching program, public engagement, and collaboration with international organisations. Furthermore, in May 2016 it was announced that Jolie-Pitt and Hague would join Jane Connors and Madeleine Rees as Visiting Professors in Practice from September 2016.
LSE has academic partnerships in teaching and research with six universities – with Columbia University in New York City and University of California, Berkeley, in Asia with Peking University in Beijing and the National University of Singapore, in Africa with the University of Cape Town and Europe with Sciences Po in Paris
Together they offer a range of double or joint degree programmes including an MA in International and World History (with Columbia) and an MSc in International Affairs with Peking University, with graduates earning degrees from both institutions. The School also offers joint degrees for specific departments with various other universities including Fudan University in Shanghai, USC in Los Angeles and a Global Studies programme which is offered with a consortium of four European universities – Leipzig, Vienna, Roskilde and Wroclaw. It offers the TRIUM Global Executive MBA programme jointly with Stern School of Business of New York University and HEC School of Management, Paris. It is divided into six modules held in five international business locations over a 16-month period. LSE also offers a Dual Master of Public Administration (MPA) with Global Public Policy Network schools such as Sciences Po Paris, the Hertie School of Governance and National University of Singapore.
The school also runs exchange programmes with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Fuqua School of Business, Kellogg School of Management, Stern School of Business and Yale School of Management as part of its MSc in International Management and an undergraduate student exchange programme with the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science. It also participates in Key Action 1 of the European Union-wide Erasmus+ programme, encouraging staff and student mobility for teaching, although not the other Key Actions in the programme. The School is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, the European University Association, the G5, the Global Alliance in Management Education, the Russell Group and Universities UK, and is often considered part of the 'Golden Triangle' of British universities.
The School's main library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science is located in the Lionel Robbins Building and contains over 4 million print volumes, 60,000 online journals and 29,000 electronic books. The Digital Library contains digitised material from LSE Library collections and also born-digital material that has been collected and preserved in digital formats. Founded in 1896, it is the world's largest social and political sciences library and the national social science library of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. Its collections are recognised for their outstanding national and international status and hold 'Designation' status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). BLPES responds to around 7,500 visits from students and staff each day. In addition, it provides a specialist international research collection, serving over 12,000 registered external users each year.
The Shaw Library, housed in LSE's Founders Room in the Old Building contains the School's collection of fiction and general readings. It also hosts a weekly series of lunchtime music concerts and press launches and is the home of the Fabian Window which was unveiled by Tony Blair in 2003.
In 2013, LSE purchased the Women's Library, Britain's main library and museum resource on women and the women's movement and a UNESCO classified resource from London Metropolitan University, moving the resources and artefacts into a new purpose-built facility within the Lionel Robbins Building complete with its own reading room and exhibition space. Several subject specific libraries also exist including the Seligman Library for Anthropology, the Himmelweit Library for Social Psychology, the Leverhulme Library for Statistics, the Robert McKenzie library for Sociology, the Michael Wise Library for Geography and the Gender Institute Library. Additionally, students are permitted to use the libraries of any other University of London college, and the extensive facilities at Senate House Library, situated in Russell Square.
The original LSE Summer School was established in 1989 and has since expanded to offer over 70 three-week courses in accounting, finance, economics, English language, international relations, government, law and management each July and August. It is advertised as the largest and one of the most well-established university Summer Schools of its kind in Europe.
In recent years, the School has expanded its summer schools both abroad and into executive education with the LSE-PKU Summer School in Beijing (run with Peking University, the LSE-UCT July School in Cape Town (run with the University of Cape Town) and the Executive Summer School at its London campus. In 2011, it also launched a Methods Summer Programme. Together these courses welcome over 5,000 participants from over 130 countries and some of the top colleges and universities around the world, as well as professionals from several multinational institutions. Participants are housed in LSE halls of residence or their overseas equivalents, and the Summer School provides a full social programme including guest lectures and receptions.
LSE is famous for its programme of public lectures. These lectures, organised by the LSE Events office, are open to students, alumni and the general public. As well as leading academics and commentators, speakers frequently include prominent national and international figures such as ambassadors, CEOs, Members of Parliament, and heads of state. A number of these are broadcast live around the world via the School's website. In 2015-16 academic year, LSE organised over 200 public events.
Recent prominent speakers have included Kofi Annan, Ben Bernanke, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Noam Chomsky, Bill Clinton, Philip Craven, Niall Ferguson, Vicente Fox, Milton Friedman, Muammar Gaddafi, Julia Gillard, Alan Greenspan, Tenzin Gyatso, Lee Hsien Loong, Boris Johnson, Angelina Jolie, Paul Krugman, Dmitri Medvedev, Mario Monti, George Osborne, Robert Peston, Sebastián Piñera, Kevin Rudd, Jeffrey Sachs, Gerhard Schroeder, Carlos D. Mesa, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Aung San Suu Kyi, Amartya Sen, George Soros and Rowan Williams. Previously, the School has hosted figures including Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher.
The iXXi Briefings (from 9/11, written in Roman numerals) are private discussions which are attended by around 40 distinguished people, chaired by Lord Desai. At the briefings, two speakers talk for 15 minutes each before discussion is opened to all attendees, operating under Chatham House Rules. iXXi briefings provide an opportunity for the LSE to exhibit its resources and engage with experts and prominent figures. The iXXi briefings are run by LSE Enterprises.
Disparities between national and international league tables have caused LSE to offer public explanations for the difference, including the statement in 2012:
At mid-2012, LSE has seen pleasing improvements over the last couple of years in our standing in all the main global rankings: those produced by Times Higher Education, QS and Shanghai Jiaotong University. We have also seen good rises in the domestic UK rankings. But we remain concerned that all of the global rankings – by some way the most important for us, given our highly international orientation – suffer from inbuilt biases in favour of large multi-faculty universities with full STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) offerings, and against small, specialist, mainly non-STEM universities such as LSE.
LSE ranked 3rd overall in the Sunday Times University Guide cumulative ranking over a ten-year period (1997–2007), and ranked 3rd in the Complete University Guide 2014. The QS World University Rankings for 2015-16 saw LSE jumping 36 places from 71st to 35th globally in the overall ratings and retaining its number one position in the UK for social sciences ahead of Oxbridge. In the overall QS rankings, employers rated LSE as the 5th best university worldwide. QS also ranked LSE as second globally in social sciences, ranking it after only Harvard, and ahead of Oxford and Cambridge. The 2016-17 Times World University Rankings ranked LSE higher, ranking it 25th globally and placing it 5th in the country. When looking specifically at social sciences, Times ranks LSE at 15th globally and 4th in the country.
A number of LSE departments are also ranked among the top three in subject rankings, including but not limited to Media & Communications (2nd), Law (2nd), Philosophy (2nd), Economics (2nd), Social Policy (1st), Accounting and Finance (2nd), History (3rd), Geography (2nd) and International Development (3rd). Its Department of International Relations has also been ranked amongst the top ten in the world in recent years, and second only to Harvard in 2013 according to THE-QS World University Rankings, making it the best such department in Europe. ForeignPolicy.com has consistently ranked LSE's IR Department as the only non-US one to be in its top ten for MSc in International Relations.
In the THE-QS World University Rankings, the School was ranked 11th in the world in 2004 and 2005, but dropped to 66th and 67th in the 2008 and 2009 edition. The School administration asserts that the fall was due to a controversial change in survey method which was detrimental to the ratings of social science institutions. In January 2010, THE concluded that the method employed by Quacquarelli Symonds, who conducted the survey on their behalf, was flawed in such a way that bias was introduced against certain institutions, including LSE. A representative of Thomson Reuters, THE's new partner, commented on the controversy: "LSE stood at only 67th in the last Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings – some mistake surely? Yes, and quite a big one." Nonetheless, after the change of data provider to Thomson Reuters the following year, LSE fell even further to 86th place, with the ranking described by a representative of Thomson Reuters as 'a fair reflection of their status as a world class university'.
In the 2012 rankings, LSE was 69th in the QS table, 47th in the Times Higher Education table and in the range 101-150 in the ARWU table. It has since risen in the QS and Times Higher Education tables due to changed methodology, while the ARWU remains unchanged. LSE has continued to attain these lower rankings (reaching 69th in 2013/14), which place it behind eleven other British universities, with this being described as a 'pleasing improvement' by LSE. In the (now separated from QS) THE 2014 ranking the school climbed up to 32nd in the world.
In its first world ranking prepared by the US News & World Report 2015, the school was ranked 328th in the world, and 32nd in the country. In 2016 ranking, the school moves upward to 327th in the world, but drops to 33rd in the country. Nevertheless, the school was the only one of its type to finish in the top 200 universities, and was thus stated to be the best "medium sized specialised research university" in the world. The 2017 U.S. News & World Report ranks LSE 261st in the world (tied with the International School for Advanced Studies, in Italy, Pohang University of Science and Technology, in South Korea, and the University of Oregon, in the United States).
LSE is ranked 22nd globally for reputation and often scores very highly in the social science specific section of the ranking. The Fulbright Commission and QS World University Rankings have stated that LSE is "the world's leading dedicated social science institution". LSE is ranked as the 6th best university in the UK for the quality of graduates according to recruiters from the UK's major companies. According to Wealth-X and UBS's "Billionaire Census", LSE ranked 10th in the list of 20 schools that have produced the most billionaire alumni. The LSE was the only UK university to make the list.
In the 2015–16 academic year there were 10,833 full-time students and around 700 part-time students at the school. Of these, approximately 7,500 came from outside the United Kingdom (approximately 70% of the total student body). Hence, making LSE a highly international school, with over 160 countries represented. LSE had more countries represented by students than the UN. 32% of LSE's students come from Asia, 10% from North America, 2% each from South America and Africa. Combined over 100 languages are spoken at LSE. Over half of LSE's students are postgraduates, an unusually high proportion in comparison with other British institutions. There is approximately an equal split between genders with 51% male and 49% female students. Alumni total over 160,000, covering over 190 countries with more than 80 active alumni groups.
The LSE Students' Union (LSESU) is affiliated to the National Union of Students and is responsible for campaigning and lobbying the School on behalf of students as well providing student support and the organisation and undertaking of entertainment events and student societies. It is often regarded as the most politically active in Britain – a reputation it has held since the well documented LSE student riots in 1966–67 and 1968–69, which made international headlines. In 2015, the School was awarded the top spot for student nightlife by The Guardian newspaper due in part to its central location and provision of over 200 societies, 40 sports clubs, a Raising and Giving (RAG) branch and a thriving media group. In 2013, the Union moved into a purpose-built new building – the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre on the Aldwych campus.
A weekly student newspaper The Beaver, is published each Tuesday during term time and is amongst the oldest student newspapers in the country. It sits alongside a radio station, Pulse! which has existed since 1999 and a television station LooSE Television since 2005. The Clare Market Review one of Britain's oldest student publications was revived in 2008. Over £150,000 is raised for charity each year through the RAG (Raising and Giving), the fundraising arm of the Students' Union, which was started in 1980 by then Student Union Entertainments Officer and former New Zealand MP Tim Barnett.
Sporting activity is coordinated by the LSE Athletics Union, which is a constituent of British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS).
LSE owns or operates 10 halls of residence in and around central London and there are also two halls owned by urbanest and five intercollegiate halls (shared with other constituent colleges of the University of London) within a 3 mile radius of the School, for a total of over 4,000 places. Most residences take both undergraduates and postgraduates, allhough Carr-Saunders Hall and Passfield Hall are undergraduate only, and Butler's Wharf Residence, Grosvenor House, Lillian Knowles House and Sidney Webb House are reserved for postgraduates. There are also flats available on Anson and Carleton roads, which are reserved for students with children.
The School guarantees accommodation for all first-year undergraduate students and many of the school's larger postgraduate population are also catered for, with some specific residences available for postgraduate living. Whilst none of the residences are located at the Aldwych campus, the closest, Grosvenor House is within a five-minute walk from the School in Covent Garden, whilst the farthest residences (Nutford and Butler's Wharf) are approximately forty-five minutes by Tube or Bus.
Each residence accommodates a mixture of students both home and international, male and female, and, usually, undergraduate and postgraduate. New undergraduate students (including General Course students) occupy approximately 55% of all spaces, with postgraduates taking approximately 40% and continuing students about 5% of places.
The largest LSE student residence, Bankside House, opened in 1996 and is fully catered, accommodating 617 students across eight floors overlooking the River Thames. It is located behind the Tate Modern art gallery on the south bank of the river. The second-largest residence, the High Holborn Residence in High Holborn, was opened in 1995 and is approximately 10 minutes walk from the main campus. It is self-catering, accommodating 447 students in flats of four our five bedrooms with shared facilities. Other accommodation is located in the surrounding area – Butler's Wharf is situated next to Tower Bridge, Rosebery Hall is located in the London Borough of Islington close to Sadler's Wells, and Carr-Saunders Hall, named after the LSE professor, is approximately 5 minutes from Telecom Tower in the heart of Fitzrovia.
Since 2005, the school has opened three new residences to provide accommodation for all first-year students. Lilian Knowles, independently operated in Spitalfields, is home for approximately 360 students and opened in 2006. It is located in a converted Victorian night refuge; the remnants of which can still be seen on the outside facade. It is a common stop on Jack the Ripper tours as one of his victims is commonly believed to have been a one-time resident. Planning permission was sought to convert the Grade II listed Northumberland House, on Northumberland Avenue into a new residence in June 2005, and the accommodation opened to students in October 2006. It was formerly a Victorian grand hotel and lately government offices.
The closest residence to the Aldwych campus is reserved for postgraduate students and is located on the eastern side of Drury Lane at the crossroads of Great Queen Street and Long Acre. Grosvenor House, converted from a Victorian office building, opened in September 2005. The residence is unique in that all of its 169 rooms are small, self-contained studios, with private toilet and shower facilities and a mini-kitchen.
LSE has a long list of notable alumni and staff, spanning the fields of scholarship covered by the school. Among them are eighteen Nobel Prize winners in Economics, Peace and Literature. The school has over 50 fellows of the British Academy on its staff, while other notable former staff members include Brian Barry, Maurice Cranston, Anthony Giddens, Harold Laski, Ralph Miliband, Michael Oakeshott, A. W. Philips, Karl Popper, Lionel Robbins, Susan Strange, Bob Ward and Charles Webster. Mervyn King, the former Governor of the Bank of England, is also a former professor of economics.
In the political arena notable alumni and staff include, 53 past or present heads of state, 20 members of the current British House of Commons and 46 members of the current House of Lords. Former British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee taught at the school from 1912 to 1923. In recent British politics, former LSE students include Virginia Bottomley, Yvette Cooper, Edwina Currie, Frank Dobson, Margaret Hodge and former UK Labour Party leader Ed Miliband. Internationally, Brazilian defence minister Celso Amorim, Costa Rican President Óscar Arias, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, 'Architect of the Indian Constitution' & eminent economist B. R. Ambedkar, President of India K. R. Narayanan, President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen, Italian Prime Minister and President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, French Foreign Minister and President of the Constitutional Council Roland Dumas as well as Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Tharman Shanmugaratnam all studied at LSE. A notable number of LSE students have also played a role in the Barack Obama administration including; Pete Rouse, Peter R. Orszag, Mona Sutphen, Paul Volcker and Jason Furman. Physician Vanessa Kerry and American journalist Susan Rasky are also alumnae of the LSE. Notable American Monica Lewinsky pursued her MSc in Social Psychology at the LSE.
Business people who studied at LSE include the CEO of AirAsia Tony Fernandes, former CEO of General Motors Daniel Akerson, Director of Louis Vuitton Delphine Arnault, founder of easyJet Stelios Haji-Ioannou, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch Michael S. Jeffries, Greek business magnate Spiros Latsis, American banker David Rockefeller, CEO of Newsmax Media Christopher Ruddy, founder of advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi Maurice Saatchi, hedge fund managers George Soros and Michael Platt.Nobel Laureates associated with the London School of Economics