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University of York

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Type  Public
Endowment  £10.3 million
Chancellor  Malcolm Grant
Undergraduate tuition and fees  9,000 GBP (2016)
Colors  Dark blue, Dark green
Established  1963 (1963)
Total enrollment  15,353 (2014)
Phone  +44 1904 320000
Vice-chancellor  Koen Lamberts
University of York

Motto  In limine sapientiae (Latin)
Motto in English  On the threshold of wisdom
Affiliation  List EUA N8 Sutton 13 Russell Group White Rose University Consortium WUN
Address  Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK
Notable alumni  Greg Dyke, Phil Lester, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, Jung Chang, Harry Enfield
Similar  University of Leeds, University of Sheffield, Durham University, University of Manchester, Lancaster University

The University of York (abbreviated as Ebor. for post-nominals) is a research-intensive plate glass university located in the city of York, England. Established in 1963, the campus university has expanded to more than thirty departments and centres, covering a wide range of subjects.


In the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise, York was named as the 14th best research institution in the United Kingdom. The university also places among the top 20 in the country, top 50 universities in Europe, and ranked 131st in the world, according to the 2016 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. York is described as a "genuinely world class" institution by The Times and The Sunday Times. In 2012 York joined the Russell Group, which represents some of the UK's most prestigious universities.

The university attracts a student body with a wide range of backgrounds (with over 16,000 part-time and full-time students in 2013/14), including a large number of international students, and a relatively high number of state school students in comparison to other well-ranked universities according to The Times Good University Guide.

Situated to the south-east of the city of York, the university campus is about 200 acres (80 hectares) in size, incorporating the York Science Park and the National Science Learning Centre. Its wildlife, campus lakes and greenery are prominent, and the institution also occupies buildings in the city of York. In May 2007 the university was granted permission to build an extension to its main campus, on arable land just east of the nearby village of Heslington. The second campus, known as Heslington East, opened in 2009 and now hosts three colleges and three departments as well as conference spaces, sports village and a business start-up "incubator".

York is a collegiate university and every student is allocated to one of the university's nine colleges. The ninth college was founded in 2014 and was named Constantine after the Roman emperor Constantine I, who was proclaimed Augustus in York in 306 AD. There are plans to build two new colleges in the near future.


The first petition for the establishment of a university in York was presented to James I in 1617. In 1641 a second petition was drawn up but was not delivered due to the English Civil War in 1642. A third petition was created in 1647 but was rejected by Parliament. In the 1820s there were discussions about the founding of a university in York, but this did not come to fruition due to the founding of Durham University in 1832. In 1903 F. J. Munby and the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, amongst others, proposed a 'Victoria University of Yorkshire'.

Oliver Sheldon a director of Rowntree's and co-founder of York Civic Trust, was a driving force behind the campaign to found the university.


Morell and the history of the foundations. In 1963 the university opened with 216 undergraduates, 14 postgraduates, and 28 academic and administrative staff. The university started with six departments: Economics, Education, English, History, Mathematics, Politics. At the time, the university consisted of three buildings, principally the historic King's Manor in the city centre and Heslington Hall, which has Tudor foundations and is in the village of Heslington on the edge of York. A year later, work began on purpose-built structures on the Heslington Campus, which now forms the main part of the university.

Baron James of Rusholme, the university's first Vice-Chancellor, said of the University of York that "it must be collegiate in character, that it must deliberately seek to limit the number of subjects and that much of the teaching must be done via tutorials and seminars". Due to the influence of Graeme Moodie, founding head of the Politics Department, students are involved in the governance of the university at all levels, and his model has since been widely adopted.

York's first two Colleges, Derwent and Langwith were founded in 1965, and were followed by Alcuin and Vanbrugh in 1967 and Goodricke in 1968. In 1972 this was followed by Wentworth College.

The university was noted for its inventive approach to teaching. It was known for its early adoption of joint honours degrees which were often very broad such as history and biology. It also took an innovative approach to social science introducing a five year long degree in the subject.


After 1972 the construction of Colleges ceased until 1990 with the foundation of James College. Initially James was intended to be a postgraduate only college, however the university began to rapidly expand in size almost doubling in size from 4,300 to 8,500 students, in 1993 therefore it was decided that the College should become open to undergraduates. The expansion of student numbers also resulted in the creation of more accommodation by the University which was named 'Halifax Court'; the members of Halifax Court were members of other colleges however soon formed their own Junior Common Room. In 2002 Halifax Court was made a full college of the university and was renamed Halifax College.

In 2003, the university set out plans to create a campus for 5,000 additional students, and to introduce a number of new subjects such as Law and Dentistry. For a number of years, the university's expansion plans were limited by planning restrictions on the Heslington West campus. The City of York planning conditions stipulate that only 20% of the land area may be built upon, and the original campus was at full capacity.

In 2004, plans were finalised for a 117 hectare extension to the campus, provisionally called Heslington East, designed to mirror the existing Heslington West campus. The plans set out that the new campus would be built on arable land between Grimston Bar park and ride car park and Heslington village. The land was removed from the green belt especially for the purpose of extending the university. After a lengthy consultation and a public inquiry into the proposals in 2006, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government gave the go-ahead in May 2007.

In May 2008 the City of York planners approved the design for the first residential college, Goodricke. In The Press on 28 July 2008, Shepherd Construction was named as the preferred contractor for the Goodricke College buildings. The proposal included landscaping the whole area, constructing a lake with marsh borders, planting light woodland and many specimen trees, and maximising biodiversity.

Construction began in 2008, with the first buildings, including Goodricke college, coming into use in October 2009. It was decided that rather than create a new College that an existing College should be moved. Goodricke College was selected for this and moved onto the new campus in 2009 with James taking over its building on Heslington West. Goodricke was officially opened by the Duke of York in April 2010. In 2012 the same process took place with Langwith moving to Heslington East and Derwent taking over its previous buildings. In 2014 Heslington College saw the establishment of the ninth college and was named Constantine after the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, who was proclaimed Augustus in York in 306 AD.

Heslington West campus

In 1964, work began on the campus facilities in the grounds of Heslington Hall. The marshy land was drained, the winding lake which dominates the campus was built, and the area was landscaped. The original buildings were designed by architects Sir Andrew Derbyshire and Stirrat Johnson-Marshall, with input also from the Vice-Chancellor Lord James and the Registrar John West-Taylor. The new structures were assembled using the CLASP system of prefabricated construction, hence York's inclusion among the so-called plate glass universities. The buildings are connected by numerous covered walkways and bridges. Most of the university's arts departments occupy premises in the college buildings, while many of the science departments have their own buildings.

A landmark building is Central Hall, a half-octagonal concert hall used for convocations and examinations, as well as theatrical and musical performances. It has played host to The Wailers, George Melly, Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, and Paul McCartney. Performances by big-name acts have been rarer at the university following a 1985 The Boomtown Rats concert, during which the cover of the orchestra pit was damaged. A ban on pop performances, and in particular dancing, in Central Hall was imposed by the university, although it has occasionally been relaxed. Central Hall is still used for classical concerts and since a rock concert was held there in on 13 March 2010 it has been available again for full booking. Public concerts are regularly held in the music department's Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, the Arthur Sykes Rymer Auditorium and in some of the colleges. The Raymond Burton Library was also recently nominated for a SCONUL Design award.

The campus lake is the largest plastic-bottomed lake in Europe. The decision by Sir Andrew Derbyshire and Stirrat Johnson-Marshall to give the university a lake had two motivations: one, to give the university a distinct image and identity while also creating areas to foster community; and two, more practically to create a drainage basin as the site of the Heslington West was built on generally flat agricultural land and it was feared the construction of the new buildings would increase the risk of flooding. The lake has attracted a large population of wild and semi-wild waterfowl, including greylag, Canada, barnacle and snow geese, coots, moorhens and large numbers of ducks, including mallards, tufted duck, and common pochards. There is also a growing population of black swans and a few great crested grebe. Herons have also been sighted on the lake. The southern end of the lake has been established as a bird sanctuary. Fishing is permitted in season, on purchase of a licence.

Other parts of the campus support a large rabbit population. On at least one occasion, students have been cautioned by the university for hunting rabbits.

The Heslington campus has both indoor and outdoor sports facilities, including an all weather AstroTurf pitch and County standard cricket pitch. A large, tent-like structure allows for indoor sport, gymnastics and dance.

The university is currently planning a major redevelopment of the Heslington West campus which would also result in the creation of a tenth college.

Heslington Hall

Heslington Hall is a Grade II* listed rebuilt manor house consisting of a central nine bay two-storey block with attics and two two-storey wings at each end. It is built of brick in English bond with sandstone ashlar dressings. The original Manor house was constructed in 1568 for Sir Thomas Eynns, the Secretary and Keeper of the Seal to the Council of the North; and his wife Elizabeth.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the house was vacated by the family, allowing it to be taken over by the Royal Air Force as the headquarters of No. 4 Group RAF, part of RAF Bomber Command. The hall was not re-occupied by the family after the war. In 1955 the hall was given Grade II* listed building status. When the university was founded Sir Bernard Feilden supervised its conversion into the administrative headquarters of the university. The Hall and University were at that time in the East Riding of Yorkshire although they are now part of the City of York.

King's Manor

Located in York city centre, about 2 miles (3 km) from the main Heslington West campus, the historic King's Manor began as the Abbot's House of St Mary's Abbey and went on to become the headquarters of the Council of the North following the dissolution of the monasteries. It is home to the Archaeology, Medieval Studies and Eighteenth Century Studies departments, and is regularly used by other related departments such as History. It has a public restaurant and is used for art displays.

Not far from the King's Manor is the Minster Library, in Dean's Park. Students and staff of the university are able to use the Minster Library, which shares staff and cataloguing with the main University library, and holds the huge collection of early books belonging to the Dean and Chapter of York Minster.

Heslington East campus

Several departments have purpose-built facilities on Heslington East, including Law and the York Management School. In October 2010, several departments moved into new facilities on Heslington East including the Department of Theatre, Film and Television and the Department of Computer Science.

Heslington East also includes the York Sports Village and a new purpose built £1.1 million Olympic-sized outdoor velodrome, the only one in Yorkshire or the North East of England.

Science Park and on-campus organisations

Next door to the university on the York Science Park are organisations including the Higher Education Academy, the Digital Preservation Coalition the National Non-Food Crops Centre, the York Neuroimaging Centre, the York JEOL Nanocentre, the IT office of VetUK, the UK head office of AlphaGraphics, the accelerated mass spectrometry specialists Xceleron Ltd, and the Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. In summer 2011, the Department of Physics moved its Plasma Physics and Fusion Group to the Science Park at the newly created York Plasma Institute. York Conferences are located on the university campus.

Other properties

The university owns several other properties including Catherine House, Constantine House, 54 Walmgate, and Fairfax House. The university publishes an annual code of practice for student accommodation to help students living off-campus.


York is a collegiate university and has nine colleges. Every student is a member of a college and staff may choose to join a college if they wish. All colleges have equal status, and each has its own constitution. The day-to-day running of the colleges is managed by an elected committee of staff and student members chaired by the college's Provost. Most colleges have a Junior Common Room for undergraduate students, which is managed by the elected Junior Common Room Committee, and a Graduate Common Room for post-graduate students, as well as a Senior Common Room, which is managed by elected representatives of the college's academic and administrative members. Other colleges however combine undergraduate and postgraduate representation together into student associations. The colleges are deliberately assigned undergraduates, postgraduate students and staff from a wide mixture of disciplines. The Sunday Times noted, "The colleges are tight-knit communities within the university and enjoy a healthy rivalry." The colleges share practical features of the halls of residence of other UK universities, as well as the traditional Oxbridge and Durham colleges. The university plans on building a tenth college which would be located on Heslington West.

Academic departments

The university hosts a number of interdisciplinary research centres, including the Borthwick Institute for Archives, Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Centre for Modern Studies, the Centre for Medieval Studies, the Institute for Effective Education and the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past. The Department of Politics hosts the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit and the Centre for Applied Human Rights.

The Heslington West campus hosts the National Science Learning Centre which opened in March 2006, it serves as the hub for a £51 million national network of centres dedicated to revitalising science teaching in schools. It is operated by the White Rose University Consortium (which comprises the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York) together with Sheffield Hallam University.

List of Chancellors

  • George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood (1962–1967)
  • Kenneth Clark, Baron Clark (1967–1978)
  • Michael Swann, Baron Swann (1979–1990)
  • Dame Janet Baker (1991–2004)
  • Greg Dyke (2004–2015)
  • Sir Malcolm Grant (2015–present)
  • List of Vice-Chancellors

  • Eric James, Baron James of Rusholme (1962–1973)
  • Morris Carstairs (1973–1978)
  • Berrick Saul (1979–1993)
  • Sir Ronald Cooke (1993–2002)
  • Brian Cantor (2002–2013)
  • Koen Lamberts (2014–present)
  • Reputation and academic rankings

    The Times University Guide said of York that "The university is increasingly recognised as a permanent fixture in the top rank of British higher education" and that "No university had a better record for teaching quality". The Sunday Times said, "York is one of Britain's academic success stories, forging a reputation to rival Oxford and Cambridge in the space of 40 years. In some regards – teaching, for example – it has a recent track record better than that of Oxford, according to the official assessments of teaching quality."

    In 2014 York was named the eighth best university under 50 years old in the world, and first within the United Kingdom, building a "reputation to rival Oxford and Cambridge".

    On 25 November 2010 York was named "University of the Year" at the Times Higher Education Awards, achieving praise from the judges for its "success in combining academic excellence with social inclusion, as well as its record in scientific discovery".

    In the Times Higher Education rankings York is listed as 34th for Life Sciences & Biomedicine. The Sunday Times released averages of all its tables over 10 years, ranking York as 6th in the country from 1998–2007. In 2000 the Sutton Trust named York as a leading university in the United Kingdom, placing it 6th overall.

    Admissions and enrolment

    Information for entry standards gathered from the 2014/15 academic year by the HESA shows that the average student at the University of York achieved a UCAS Tariff of 430, the 19th highest in the UK. An A grade at A-Level is equivalent to 120 points, and an A at AS worth 60 points, the average entrant can be assumed to achieve ABB at A Level and AB at AS Level since most applicants take 5 AS Levels and specialise to 3 A Levels. York, along with only a handful of other British universities, require the new A* grade for some course entry requirements. The university gives offers of admission to 78.5% of its applicants, the joint 15th lowest amongst the Russell Group.

    There are around 6.2 applications for every undergraduate place, and a completion rate of 93.2% with around 80% of graduates graduating with a First/2:1.

    Official teaching statistics

    The 2003 QAA report on the institution gave it the best of their three possible outcomes saying that "broad confidence can be placed in the soundness of the university's current and likely future management of the quality of its academic programmes and the academic standards of its awards."

    The latest Teaching Quality Assessment data for the University of York is listed below. In cases before November 1995 a numerical value, out of 24, is not used. In these cases "Excellent" is the highest possible grade followed by "Satisfactory" and then "Unsatisfactory". Under the newer system the quality of teaching is marked out of 24. 22/24 or higher is equivalent to "Excellent" on the old scale 20 out of 23 departments gained an "excellent" rating.

    Research assessment

    York has an impressive reputation for research with 19 Units of Assessment out of the 23 in the 2000 Research Assessment Exercise receiving a rating of 5 and three 5* (where 1 is the lowest and 5* is the highest possible) ratings in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise. The Department of English and Related Literature and the Department of Computer Science were later upgraded from 5* to 6* (indicating successive 5* grades), and the Department of Psychology has been rated 6* for funding. Using these statistics, York was ranked the sixth-best research institution in the United Kingdom. The proportion of staff submitted as research active in each Unit of Assessment was above 80%.

    York is a founding member of the Worldwide Universities Network which supports worldwide collaboration in teaching and research. The university has been awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize five times – in 1997 for the work of the Department of Computer Science; in 2005 for the work of the Centre for Novel Agricultural products, in 2007 for the work of the Centre for Health Economics, in 2009 for the work of Social Policy Research Unit of the Department of Social Policy and Social Work., and in 2011 for the Department of Archaeology's influential role in broadening the scope of archaeology.

    Health economics was pioneered at York and the university leads the world in the methodological development of cost-effectiveness analysis of health care technologies. It is home to two prominent health economics journals and has been home to many prominent names in health economics (including current Lead Health Economist at the World Bank Adam Wagstaff, ex-deputy chair of NICE Tony Culyer, current ISPOR director Paul Kind, ex-ISPOR president Mike Drummond, current chairman of York Primary Care Trust Alan Maynard).

    In 2007, York became the only British University to have an academic department – Chemistry – win the Gold Athena Swan Award for its commitment to the careers of women in science. In 2014, the Department of Biology also received a Gold Athena Swan Award. The Department of Psychology has won a Silver Athena Swan Award, the first in the country to do so. The Department of Physics also holds a silver award. The university's departments share 13 separate awards, and the university as a whole holds the Athena Swan bronze award.


    The students' union is the University of York Students' Union and is referred to as YUSU. Its membership is currently the entire student population of the university. In 2008 YUSU was able to open its first Union-run licensed venue The Courtyard. In addition to the students' union, there is a Graduate Students' Association (the GSA) which performs many of the functions of the Students' Union for postgraduate students, including representing postgraduates on university committees and Council.

    Each College has its own JCRC or students' association which provide a variety of services, including college events and student welfare services; they also organise the Freshers' Fortnight activities in their College.

    Non-partisan political societies are well represented at the university, with the York Student Think Tank – which produces research in collaboration with national policy organisations such as IPPR, New Generation Society – an informal debating society, and The York Union Society – which competes in inter-varsity debating tournaments against other universities. There are also very active party political societies on campus with the University of York Labour Club, the University of York Liberal Democrat Society, the University of York Conservative and Unionist Association and the University of York Green group; campaigning on issues both on and off campus, as well as organising debates and talks by high-profile speakers. There is also a branch of People and Planet, which campaigns on environmental and ethical issues.

    Provisions for lesbian, gay bisexual and trans (LGBT) students at the university are divided among two distinct organisations. YUSU LGBT is a part of the students' union and represents LGBT students within the union, as well as providing welfare support and conducting awareness raising campaigns on campus. LGBT Social organises social events aimed at LGBT students and their friends. While remaining separate, these two groups generally have strong links to each other and to the staff LGBTI forum, which offers largely similar provision to staff members of the university.


    York Student Television (YSTV) was founded at the university in 1967 and is England's oldest student television station. YSTV once held the world record for longest continuous television broadcast under a single director. It was named the best student television station at the 2012 and 2014 NaSTA Awards. The University of York Filmmaking Society was a student-run filmmaking group; between 1999 and 2014 its members made two feature films and many shorts, some of which were shown at national film festivals.

    University Radio York (URY) is the oldest independent radio station in the United Kingdom and winner of the Student Radio Awards Best Station Award 2005.

    Nouse was established in 1964 and was 2005 NUS/Mirror Student paper of the year and 2009 NUS Best Student Media. It has also won multiple Guardian Student Newspaper awards throughout the past decade, for both its pioneering website and outstanding individual journalists. Its rival newspaper, Vision, was named Guardian Student Newspaper of the Year for three consecutive years between 2002 and 2004—the only time this has occurred in the 27-year history of the prestigious awards—and won it again in 2007. In 2011, it won the award for a fifth time, making it the most awarded student newspaper in the United Kingdom. It also won Best Small Budget Publication at the 2006 NUS/Mirror National Student Media Awards.

    The Lemon Press, York's satire magazine, was launched in 2009, in both print and online formats. In 2010 it won the NUS Award for Best Student Media. The Yorker is an online publication set up by students as an independent company in 2007; it was nominated for the Guardian Student media awards after running for only a few months.

    York Student Cinema (YSC), operating since the late 1960s, show around 30 films a term using a professional 35 mm projector, an industry standard Christie CP2000 digital projector, and a full size CinemaScope screen in one of the largest rooms on campus. It has won the BFFS film society of the year award several times and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016.


    The York's University teams play in black and gold colours. York is a member of British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) and has 65 teams participating. At the end of the 2013/14 BUCS season York came 38th out of 145 participating institutions.

    As well as BUCS every summer term the university take part in the Roses Tournament, a sports competition against Lancaster University, which is the largest inter-university tournament in Europe. The venue of the event alternates each year between York and Lancaster, and involves numerous sports clubs, including the conventional (football, hockey) and the more unusual (YUCC, ultimate frisbee). As of 2015 York is leading Lancaster with 26 wins to 24, with one draw in 1974. Lancaster will be hosting the 2016 tournament.

    The university has also previously also been in the White Rose Varsity Tournament, this started in 2005 against York's other university York St John, York won all six of the tournaments held. In 2011 attempts to try and increase the competitiveness of the competition resulted in York St John being replaced by the University of Hull. York won all 3 tournaments against Hull which resulted in it being scrapped in 2013.

    In 2014 a new tournament was created "College Varsity" which was held between the Colleges of the University of York and the Colleges of Durham University.


    The University of York Music Society and the University of York Drama Society are two of the largest student societies on campus; with each having performances and/or concerts every week during term. Central Hall Musical Society performs a number of shows and showcases every year.

    Other performing societies include the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, PantSoc who stage a student written pantomime three times a year, and York ComedySoc, one of the most active comedy societies in the UK, putting on a show every week along with 3 workshops. Comedysoc send two shows to the Edinburgh Fringe each year: The Shambles, Comedysoc's in-house improv comedy troupe and Present and Correct, a sketch show.

    FUSION was recently founded to promote the ever-growing urban music scene and to raise money for charity.

    In 2004 a student at the university established York Carnival—a day celebrating music and the arts in the centre of York. Its original aim was to encourage links between the University of York and the residents of the historic city and to encourage participation in the arts. It has grown into a large annual event, attracting crowds of up to 5,000.

    Notable alumni and academics

    York has a large number of alumni who have been active in politics, including at least fifteen Members of the United Kingdom Parliament, five members of the House of Lords, two Members of the Scottish Parliament, one Member of the European Parliament and several ministers of other governments around the world. The former President and former Prime Minister of Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva, who completed his doctorate in economics. The incumbent Governor-General of Belize Colville Young holds a doctorate in linguistics from York. The Senior Vice President of the World Bank Group Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin holds a master's degree in Economic and Social Policy Analysis from York.

    The university is also represented by alumni educated in the liberal arts such as English literature, social sciences, economics, philosophy, medieval history, and music and even web stars. Phil Lester, an internet sensation known often by his channel name 'AmazingPhil', completed a degree in English Language and Linguistics at the university and the author Anthony Horowitz attended York and graduated in 1973 with a degree in English literature and art history. Greg Dyke, the former Chancellor of the university, is also Chair of the Football Association and British Film Institute, and also is the former Director General of the BBC is a former student, and graduated in 1974 with a BA in Politics. The current Director of the Natural History Museum, Sir Michael Dixon, has a PhD in Zoology

    More recently, due to expansion into areas of technology, it has also produced notable computer scientists, such as Chris Lilley.

    Prominent academics associated with the University of York include the distinguished literary teacher F. R. Leavis and Adrian Leftwich an anti-apartheid activist.


    University of York Wikipedia