University of Central Lancashire

Not to be confused with Preston University.
University of Central Lancashire
Former names
Harris Art College, Preston Polytechnic, Lancashire Polytechnic
Motto Latin: Ex solo ad solem
Motto in English
"From the Ground to the Sun"
Type Public

1828 – Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge established

1992 – University status granted
Chancellor Sir Richard Evans
Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas
Students 25,655 (2014/15)[1]
Undergraduates 21,210 (2014/15)[1]
Postgraduates 4,450 (2014/15)[1]
Location Preston, England
Coordinates: 53°45′47″N 2°42′27″W / 53.763021°N 2.7074°W / 53.763021; -2.7074
Campus Urban
Affiliations Million+

The University of Central Lancashire (abbreviated UCLan) is a public university based in Preston, Lancashire, England. It has its roots in The Institution For The Diffusion Of Useful Knowledge founded in 1828. Subsequently known as Harris Art College, then Preston Polytechnic, then Lancashire Polytechnic, in 1992 it was granted university status by the Privy Council. The university is the 19th largest in the UK in terms of student numbers.[2]


The Institution for the Diffusion of Knowledge was founded in 1828 by Joseph Livesey's Temperance Society. The society was born from a pledge made by seven Preston working men (whose names can be seen on a plaque in the university's library) to never again consume alcohol.

The institute was housed in a classical-revivalist building on Cannon Street, before eventually expanding under the endowment of a local lawyer, Edmund Robert Harris, who died in 1877. The expansion brought with it several new buildings and houses in the nearby Regent Street were purchased and demolished as a consequence. The institute became a regional centre for the arts and sciences.

As part of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897, the institutes trustees paid the Victorian/Edwardian architect Henry Cheers to design the "Victoria Jubilee Technical School" (later known as the Harris Institute and now known as the Harris Building), to be built on Corporation Street. Its goal was to provide local youths with a technical education in all areas. The building was progressive for the period, being powered entirely by electricity.

The institute existed in this state until 1932 when it changed its name to become the Harris Art College. It underwent further expansion and in 1952 and became the Harris College. In 1973 this became Preston Polytechnic then the Lancashire Polytechnic in 1984. In 1992, full university status was awarded and the University of Central Lancashire came into existence. The first chancellor of the university was Sir Francis Kennedy and he was succeeded in 2001 by Sir Richard Evans.

The journalism division, now part of the School of Journalism and Media, is one of the oldest in the country, opening as part of the Harris College in 1962. In 1991, it became one of the first to teach journalism undergraduate degrees, with a strong emphasis on practical work.

In 2013 the School of Dentistry and the School of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education merged to create the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

In 2013 the university announced the launch of a self-funded undergraduate medical degree programme, available within the School of Medicine.

Commencing in September 2015, spaces on the five-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB BS) programme are limited to 35 international and self-funded students.

In 2013 UCLan’s British Sign Language and Deaf Studies programme marked its 20th anniversary. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of British Sign Language/English interpreters working in the UK have been taught on courses delivered at UCLan.

The university sponsors Wigan UTC, a university technical college which opened in September 2013.[3][4]


The university is on an urban campus in Preston and others in Burnley, Westlakes in West Cumbria for nuclear and energy related research programmes and a €53 million campus in Cyprus opened in October 2012.

The university has students and researchers from over 100 countries and partnerships with 125 international institutions. It has a base in China’s Shenzhen Virtual University Park, conducting collaborative research with some of China’s leading universities into nanotechnology with applications in drug delivery, water purification and fire toxicity.

Within the School of Language and Global Studies, staff speak 30 languages and represent 22 nationalities.

UCLan has 98 professors, over 600 research or knowledge transfer-active members of staff, and 763 research students. There are 246 Honorary Fellows of the university.

In the 2013 Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey (HE-BCI Survey), UCLan was named the top north west university, and among the top three nationally, for producing sustainable student and graduate start-up ventures. Over 1,000 students or graduates started a business or became self-employed in the last five years and 77% are still trading after two years.

Campus Masterplan

By investing over £200 million the University of Central Lancashire plans to create a truly inspiring educational environment which blends world-class teaching and learning facilities with green and accessible spaces. Delivered over the next 10 years, the plan will integrate seamlessly with the rest of the city, benefitting current and future generations of students, staff, visitors and the wider community.

Initial projects include:

£8.15 million social spaces – completed 2017

£30 million+ Engineering Innovation Centre - completed 2018

Circa £60 Million civic square and student support centre – completed 2019

The UCLan Masterplan is being informed by community and stakeholder feedback and is supported by Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council.


Livesey House, is named after temperance activist Joseph Livesey.

The university opened the new JB Firth building in September 2011, at a cost of £12.5m. It houses the School of Forensic and Applied Sciences, which includes subjects such as chemistry and forensic science. The new building has a 4,000 m2 teaching area, which includes six laboratories: two for chemistry undergraduate teaching, one for chemistry research, one analytical laboratory and two fire laboratories. The building was named after James Brierly Firth, a founder of forensic science in Britain.[5]

The Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre opened, replacing the Foster Sports Centre, in 2011. It is a purpose built indoor facility on the main campus and offers Students' Union sports clubs, instructor-led classes and individual training.

Other key facilities include a £15m Media Factory with facilities for digital media and performing arts students, and a 'business incubator'. The £5.3 million Allen Building incorporates facilities for students in the School of Medicine and Dentistry.


Research activity at UCLan includes working with NASA on solar dynamics, with the Department of Health on sector-leading stroke research, with industry on cutting-edge digital media projects and collaboration with the Football Association, Professional Golfers Association and International Olympic Committee on sport and exercise science research.

The UK Government (REF 2014) recognised all 16 of UCLan’s assessed subject areas contain world-leading research.

Key research areas are in:

Examples of high quality research include:

Undergraduate research

UCLan has established one of the UK’s largest paid undergraduate research internship schemes.

Since the scheme launched in 2008, nearly 450 interns have worked directly alongside UCLan researchers on projects as diverse as digital publishing, wind power analysis, facial composite development and smart bandage exploration. Interns have presented work at international conferences and won awards for their research.

The initiative enhances a variety of academic and employability skills, leading to some fantastic outputs including presentations at the Houses of Parliament and published journal articles.

In 2011 UCLan hosted the first British Conference of Undergraduate Research at the Preston Campus.

Academic profile

The Harris Building, built in 1897

The university has the following schools:

  • Art, Design and Fashion
  • Business
  • Community Health and Midwifery
  • Dentistry
  • Engineering
  • Journalism, Media and Performance
  • Forensic and Applied Sciences
  • Health Sciences
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
  • Management
  • Language and Global Studies
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
  • Physical Sciences and Computing
  • Psychology
  • Social Work, Care and Community
  • Sport and Wellbeing
  • Lancashire Law School
  • Myerscough College (Associate School)

International developments

UCLan enrols students from over 100 countries and has partnerships with 125 international institutions located across the world. Each year over 2,000 international students study at the University’s Preston Campus.

UCLan was the first modern university in the UK to be included in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. In 2013 QS awarded UCLan the full five stars for its approach to ‘Internationalisation’ with a proven track record for specialising in all aspects of international educational provision.

UCLan has over 3,000 students enrolled offshore, across a diverse range of countries including China, Greece, India, Mauritius, Singapore and the USA.

In 2013, following receipt of Chinese Ministry of Education approval and together with its partner Hebei University (HBU), the UCLan established the ‘Hebei/UCLan School of Media, Communication and Creative Industries’.

Initially the joint School will have non-independent status, meaning that although it will be a separate entity from HBU it will be wholly owned by it. The School will have 800 students, recruiting 200 per year for the four-year duration of the programmes. The intention is to grow to 1,600 students and then to focus on a broader range of subjects, targeting science in the second wave. When successfully operating at the expanded level, the School will apply for independent campus status.


UCLan is in the top 3.7% of universities worldwide according to The Centre for World University Rankings 2016 (CWUR)

UCLan is in the top 800 universities globally according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings

(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2017, national)
The Guardian[11]
(2017, national)
Times/Sunday Times[12]
(2017, national)

Film production

UCLAN is the only university in the UK to run a feature film module, the most recent of this series is The Collaborators (2015). Previous include Audax (2014),[13] The Wedding (2013),[14] Wraith (2012)[15] and Needle In The Hay (2011) [16]

Research project

In 2012, UCLAN announced a partnership with the UK's biggest arms company, (BAE Systems), and four other north-western universities (Liverpool, Salford, Lancaster and Manchester) in order to work on the Gamma Programme which aims to develop "autonomous systems". According to the University of Liverpool when referring to the programme, "autonomous systems are technology based solutions that replace humans in tasks that are mundane, dangerous and dirty, or detailed and precise, across sectors, including aerospace, nuclear, automotive and petrochemicals".[17]

Student life

Students' Union

The Students' Union venue, 53 Degrees.

The nightclub and live music venue at the Students' Union, '53 Degrees', has two floors with a bar on each and occasionally hosts well known musical performers. Across two rooms, total capacities are 1,100 & 350 for club nights and 1,400 and 350 for all live gigs. The adjoining bar, 'Source', is open seven days a week during term times. '53 Degrees' is no longer owned by the Students' Union however Freshers' Week events are still run in the venue.


There are over 35 sports clubs run by the students’ union. Many have block bookings at the Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre in term-time for training and matches. The sports clubs participate in British Universities and Colleges Sport competitions and have home and away fixtures.

The university outdoor sport facilities can be found at UCLan Sports Arena (USA) which is located 2 miles away and was opened in 2000 by The Princess Royal. The £12 million arena provides facilities for Rugby League, Rugby Union, Football (5 grass pitches) Hockey (2 floodlit all-weather pitches) Netball and Tennis (4 floodlit courts) and Cycling (1 mile (1.6 km) circuit), as well as an eight lane athletics area, equipped for school, club and county competitions.

The university's Motor Sports Engineering and Operations students run a motor racing team, UCLAN Racing.[18]

The Pulse

The Pulse is the student newspaper. It is 6 times a year, and began in 1985 as the Ribble Echo and then was named Pluto until June 2016. It is now printed in tabloid format with colour photography. The newspaper published its first edition on 12 September 2016.

Pulse Radio

Pulse Radio is the student radio station which is located on the ground floor of the Students' Union building. It was founded in 1999 as Frequency Radio and is currently broadcasting during term time. The new radio station started broadcasting on 12 September 2016.

Pulse TV

Pulse Radio is the student television station which is located on the ground floor of the Students' Union building. The station covers news, entertainment, and documentaries.

Notable alumni

Scottish MSP Aileen McLeod
Deputy Leader of UKIP Paul Nuttall

Notable academics


  1. 1 2 3 "2014/15 Students by HE provider, level, mode and domicile" (XLSX). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  2. "HESA Statistics – Higher Education numbers 2008/2009" (Excel). Higher Education Statistics Agency., referenced at List of UK universities by size
  3. "Partners". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  6. "QS World University Rankings 2016/17 - United Kingdom". Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  7. "QS World University Rankings 2016/17". Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  8. "World University Rankings 2016-17 - United Kingdom". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  9. "World University Rankings 2016-17". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  10. "University League Table 2017". The Complete University Guide. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  11. "University league tables 2017". The Guardian. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  12. "The Times and Sunday Times University Good University Guide 2017". Times Newspapers. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  13. "Audax (2014)". IMDb. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  14. "The Wedding (2013)". IMDb. 12 September 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  15. "Wraith (2012)". IMDb. 20 September 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  16. Internet Movie Database, accessed 18 February 2012.
  17. "PHP - School of Engineering - University of Liverpool". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  18. "Victory for UCLan racing students at Oulton Park". Lancashire Evening Post. 8 May 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  19. "University of Central Lancashire". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  20. "The Independent, Inside Story". London. 1 November 2004. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  21. "The Guardian, Angelique Chrisafis profile". London. 26 September 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
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