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UCLan: the evolution of Preston’s modern university

Preston university growth reputation
Mar 5, 2015

The reputation of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has gone from strength to strength in recent years. This article looks at its award winning teaching and research facilities.



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UCLan: awardsBased in Preston, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is one of the UK’s most successful modern universities. It has a global reputation for its academic and research capabilities.

Originally founded in 1828 as the Institution for the Diffusion of Knowledge, UCLan still uses its original motto, “Ex solo ad solem”, which means “from the Earth to the Sun”. Its world-class teaching facilities have, amongst other successes, provided opportunities for astrophysics students to work with NASA on a project photographing the sun.

From its origins as the Institution for the Diffusion of Knowledge, UCLan has evolved through several stages; first becoming the Harris Art Collage in 1932, then morphing into Preston Polytechnic in 1973 and Lancashire Polytechnic in 1984. Finally, the Privy Council endowed it with university status in 1992.

As a highly regarded seat of student learning, UCLan has spearheaded many new subjects in the modern degree curriculum. One of the university’s new core programs is in the field of media, pioneering degree courses in journalism (with a strong focus on the practical). Having recently received approval from the Chinese Ministry of Education, it launched The Hebi/UCLan School of Media, Communications and Creative Industries with its Chinese partner institution.

Since becoming one of the UK’s modern universities, UCLan has gone from strength to strength and is today globally recognised. In fact, UCLan was the first of the UK’s modern universities to be listed in the QS world rankings in 2010. In the same year, the university was also awarded best modern university for student experience in the UK.

The university’s international credentials were given a further boost in 2013 when UCLan was awarded 5-star recognition for its approach with regards to its provision of international education services.


UCLan’s position on the world stage

Preston: critical undersupply of student accommodation

Today, UCLan is the 8th largest university in the UK; it has over 32,000 students, including 2,000 new international students each year from 120 different countries. The university has developed a global network of partners in 125 countries around the world and operates over 100 student exchange programs. UCLan also has a campus in Cyprus.

UCLan is a proactive university, extending its influence beyond the higher education sector by partnering with other commercial organisations like BAE Systems to further research to benefit mankind. The UCLan-BAE Systems Strategic Partnership spawned The Centre for Energy and Power Management (CEPM), which looks at ways of better managing energy within industrial settings, cutting back carbon emissions, reducing overall costs and securing sustainable power supplies.

Another partnership that UCLan is central to is “The Gamma Programme.” This is a joint project with BAE Systems and universities in Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford to investigate “autonomous systems”. These are technology based solutions/systems that are being developed to replace the human element in operations that are considered to be inherently dangerous, dirty, too precise or even too mundane to perform in industries including – aerospace, automotive, nuclear and petrochemical.


University’s recognised medical prowess

UCLan: strong global reputation

As well as being active in the commercial world, UCLan is also proactive in the world of medicine. The university has its own 6,200 sq ft Dental Clinic, which is equipped with the latest hi-tech dental technological equipment supplied by the world’s foremost dental equipment manufacturers. As well as being instrumental to Dental/Medical education and studies, this futuristic looking clinic also takes-on special referral cases from the public and private healthcare systems.

UCLan also pioneers new physiotherapy treatments through its own Physiotherapy Clinic. Housed in the same building as the dental clinic, this clinic offers a wide range of cutting-edge treatments administered by its staff of senior Chartered and HCPC registered physiotherapists. Each physiotherapist has his or her own specialism, including the treatment of back and neck pain, biomedical analysis, joint problems, neurological and respiratory problems and sports injuries.

As one of the UK’s foremost modern universities, UCLan has established itself as a leading academic light by pioneering degrees in journalism and fashion. Also, in terms of student experience, the university’s award winning Students’ Union and on-campus facilities, such as 53 Degrees are powerful magnets that keep enrolment applications far in excess of the current university capacity. But being a forward-looking university, UCLan has big plans for its own future.


Adapting for the future

UCLan: new campus facilities

As we approach the academic year when the controls on student numbers will be completely removed, UCLan has unveiled its plans for refurbishment and expansion. A £200 million development proposal is already underway. The proposals have been designed to bring about a unified, sustainable and welcoming campus, which will offer new heights of student, staff and visitor experience for all those visiting the University.

The development is due to get underway in January 2016 with the building of a new £30+ million flagship Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) – due to open in 2018. Other scopes of works to be included in the forthcoming development include:

  • A iconic new gateway to the university
  • A new student services building
  • An elevated glass walkway joining the new student services building, to the existing student library
  • The landscaping of the canal basin
  • The construction of a public walkway beside the canal
  • Relocating the car park
  • A remodelling of the Adelphi roundabout
  • The creation of a new public space (potentially to be called Adelphi Square) where the city and university campus come together as one

The university is clearly grooming itself to develop its reputation as one of the best universities in the world, with a campus that clearly reflects that status. As the forecast rise in student numbers continues to increase, UCLan clearly intends to be one of the most sought after universities, for both native UK students and international students seeking a UK qualification.


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