Special Collections

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Going Global!

University College Nottingham opened its doors for the first time in 1881. At a time when free elementary education ended at 11 the aim of its Victorian founders was to provide the people of Nottingham with access to a university education.

Positioned on Shakespeare Street, in the heart of the city, the college had a staff of four professors, six lecturers and twelve teachers. Students could enrol from the age of 14 upwards. These origins may have been unprepossessing but the college expanded both in student numbers and in curriculum. In 1928 Jesse Boot gifted the college part of his estate at Highfields and this became the basis of University Park as we know it today.

This exhibition charts how a University College with a few hundred students grew to become the world’s first truly global university. It draws on material from the University’s own archives to focus on key events in its history, including the granting of a full university charter in 1948 and, in more recent times, the building of the University Hospital and the opening of the Jubilee, China and Malaysia campuses. The exhibition focuses on the student experience, using prospectuses, timetables, photographs and uniforms to explore changes in the student way of life from the days of the University College to the experiences of today’s 40,000+ undergraduates and postgraduates.

Image: MS 292/1/96. Photograph of student rag parade in Old Market Square; c. 1950