University of Manchester

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is developed but not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
Catalogs [?]
This editable, developed Main Article is subject to a disclaimer.
(CC) Image: Gene Hunt
University of Manchester building on Oxford Road.

The University of Manchester[1] in England is the largest single higher education institution in the United Kingdom.[2] In 2007-2008 it had over 40,000 students studying 500 academic programmes, more than 10,000 staff and an annual income of £637 million. More students try to gain entry to the University of Manchester than any other university in the country, with more than 60,000 applications for undergraduate courses alone. According to The Sunday Times, "Manchester has a formidable reputation spanning most disciplines, but most notably in the life sciences, engineering, humanities, economics, sociology and the social sciences".[3]

The present University was formed in 2004 through the dissolution of the (Victoria) University of Manchester[4] and UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology) and the immediate formation of a single institution (inaugurated on 1st October). It is a member of the Russell Group and was named University of the Year 2006. This followed the awarding of the inaugural Times Higher Education Supplement's University of the Year prize in 2005.[5] The present Vice-Chancellor is Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell; local property developer Tom Bloxham was elected to the ceremonial position of Chancellor by a ballot of staff and alumni in June 2008.[6]


The University's history as an academic institution began in 1824 and is closely linked to Manchester's emergence as the world's first industrial city. The English chemist John Dalton, together with Manchester businessmen and industrialists, established the Mechanics' Institute (later to become UMIST) to ensure that workers could learn the basic principles of science. Similarly, John Owens, a Manchester textile merchant, left a bequest of £96,942 in 1846 for the purpose of founding a college for the education of males on non-sectarian lines. His trustees established Owens College at Manchester in 1851. It was initially housed in a building, complete with Adam staircase, on the corner of Quay Street and Byrom Street which had been the home of the philanthropist Richard Cobden, and subsequently was to house Manchester County Court. In 1873 it moved to new buildings at Oxford Road, Chorlton-on-Medlock and from 1880 it was a constituent college of the federal Victoria University. The University was established and granted a Royal Charter in 1880 to become England's first civic university; it was renamed the Victoria University of Manchester in 1903 and then absorbed Owens College the following year.[7]

By 1905 the two institutions were a large and active force in the area, with the Municipal College of Technology, the forerunner of the later UMIST, forming the Faculty of Technology of the Victoria University of Manchester while continuing as a technical college in parallel with the advanced courses of study in the Faculty. Before the merger, the Universities between them counted 23 Nobel Prize winners amongst their former staff and students. Manchester has traditionally been particularly strong in the sciences, with the nuclear nature of the atom being discovered at Manchester, and the world's first stored-program computer coming into being in the city. Famous scientists associated with the university including the physicists Osborne Reynolds, Niels Bohr, Ernest Rutherford, James Chadwick, Arthur Schuster, Hans Geiger, Ernest Marsden and Balfour Stewart. However, the university has also contributed in many other fields, such as by the mathematicians Paul Erdős, Horace Lamb and Alan Turing, the author Anthony Burgess, philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and Alasdair MacIntyre, the Pritzker Prize and RIBA Stirling Prize winning architect Norman Foster and the composer Peter Maxwell Davies all attended, or worked in, Manchester. Well-known figures among the current academic staff include author Martin Amis, computer scientist Steve Furber, literary critic Terry Eagleton, economist Richard Nelson[8] and biochemist Sir John Sulston, Nobel laureate of 2002.

In 2004, the (Victoria) University of Manchester (est.1880) and UMIST (est.1824) were formally merged into a single institution. The new university regards its establishment date as 1824, though university status for the previous University of Manchester was conferred in 1880.

The University today

The newly merged University of Manchester was officially launched on 22nd October 2004 when Queen Elizabeth II handed over the Royal Charter. It has the largest number of full time students in the UK, unless the University of London is counted as a single university. It teaches more academic subjects than any other British University. The first President and Vice-Chancellor of the new University was Alan Gilbert, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne. One of his stated ambitions for the newly combined university was to 'establish it by 2015 among the 25 strongest research universities in the world on commonly accepted criteria of research excellence and performance'.[9]

The Times Higher World University Rankings 2007 ranked Manchester overall 30th in the world and 5th by employer reviews.[10] This followed the awarding by the inaugural Times Higher Supplement's University of the Year prize in 2005.[11] The Academic Ranking of World Universities 2007 published by the Institute of Higher Education of Shanghai Jiao Tong University ranked Manchester 5th in the UK, 9th in Europe and 48th in the world.[12] According to High Fliers Research Limited's survey, 'The Graduate Market in 2007', University of Manchester students are being targeted by more top recruiters for 2007 graduate vacancies than any other UK university students.[13]

Manchester has the largest total income of all UK universities, standing at £637 million as of 2007.[14] Its research income of £216 million is the fifth largest of any university in the country. Despite its size The University of Manchester is divided into only four faculties, each sub-divided into schools:

Campus and facilities

The Main Campus of the University consists of the roughly adjoining sites of the former UMIST campus, near Sackville Street, and the former main campus of the Victoria University of Manchester, in the vicinity of Oxford Road. The terms North Campus and South Campus (respectively) are sometimes used when making a distinction between the former sites, though the official status of these terms is unclear, and they are not universally used. In addition there are a number of other university buildings located throughout the city, and throughout the further region, such as One Central Park and Jodrell Bank Observatory, the latter in the nearby county of Cheshire. The former is a collaboration between Manchester University and other partners in the region which offers office space to accommodate new start-up firms as well as venues for conferences and workshops.[15]

Major projects

Following the merger, the University embarked on a £600 million programme of capital investment, to deliver eight new buildings and 15 major refurbishment projects by 2010, partly financed by a sale of unused assets.[16] These include:

John Rylands University Library

The University's library, the John Rylands University Library, is the largest non-legal deposit library in the UK, as well as being the country's third-largest academic library after those of Oxford and Cambridge.[17] The oldest part of the library, founded in memory of John Rylands by his wife Enriqueta Augustina Rylands as an independent institution, is situated in a Victorian Gothic building on Deansgate, Manchester city centre. This site houses an important collection of historic books and manuscripts, including the oldest extant New Testament document, Rylands Library Papyrus P52, the so-called St John fragment. The Deansgate site has recently (April 2007) reopened to the public, following major improvements and renovations, including the construction of the pitched roof originally intended and a new wing in Spinningfield.

Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics

The Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics is a combination of the astronomical academic staff, situated in Manchester, and the Jodrell Bank Observatory near Goostrey, about ten miles (16 km) west of Macclesfield. The observatory boasts the third largest fully-movable radio telescope in the world, the Lovell Telescope, constructed in the 1950s. It has played an important role in the research of quasars, pulsars and gravitational lenses, and has played a role in confirming Einstein's theory of General Relativity.

Manchester Museum

The Manchester Museum provides access to nearly 4.25 million[18] items sourced from around the world. Collections include butterflies and carvings from India, birds and bark-cloth from the Pacific, live frogs and ancient pottery from America, fossils and native art from Australia, mammals and ancient Egyptian craftsmanship from Africa, plants, coins and minerals from Europe, art from past civilisations of the Mediterranean, and beetles, armour and archery from Asia. In November 2004, the museum acquired a cast of a fossilised Tyrannosaurus rex called "Stan", which was unveiled. Furthermore, a new exhibition was opened at the Museum in April 2008, which is set to last for a year, and will have the Lindow Man on display, that is currently at the British Museum in London.[19]

The history of the museum goes back to 1821, when the first collections were assembled by the Manchester Society of Natural History and later added by the collections of the Manchester Geological Society. Due to financial difficulties and on the advice of the great evolutionary biologist Thomas Huxley, Owens College accepted responsibility for the collections in 1867. The college commissioned Alfred Waterhouse, the architect of London’s Natural History Museum, to design a museum to house these collections for the benefit of students and the public on a new site in Oxford Road. The Manchester Museum was finally opened to the public in the late 1880s.[20]

Whitworth Art Gallery

The Whitworth Art Gallery is home to collections of internationally famous British watercolours, textiles and wallpapers, as well as modern and historic prints, drawings, paintings and sculpture. It overall contains 31,000 items in its collection. A programme of temporary exhibitions runs throughout the year, with the Mezzanine Court serving as a venue for showing sculpture. It was founded by Robert Darbishire with a donation from Sir Joseph Whitworth in 1889, as The Whitworth Institute and Park. 70 years later the gallery became official part of the University of Manchester.[21] In October 1995 a Mezzanine Court in the centre of the building was opened. This new gallery, designed chiefly for the display of sculptures, won a RIBA regional award.

Contact Theatre

The Contact Theatre largely stages modern live performance and participatory work for younger audiences. Completed in 1999, it is housed in an interesting fortress-style building on the Oxford Road. It features a unique energy-efficient system, using its high towers to naturally ventilate the building without the use of air conditioning. The colourful and curvaceous interior houses three performance spaces, a contact lounge bar and Hot Air, a reactive public artwork in the foyer space.

Old Quadrangle

The buildings around the old quadrangle date from the time of Owens College, and were designed in a Gothic style by Alfred Waterhouse (and his son Paul Waterhouse). Today, the museum continues to occupy one side (including the tower) and the grand setting of Whitworth Hall is used for the conferment of degrees. The old Christie Library now houses Christie's Bistro, and the remainder of the buildings are used by administrative departments.

Chancellors Hotel and Conference Centre

Formerly named The Firs, the original house was built in 1850 for Sir Joseph Whitworth, by Edward Walters, who was also responsible for Manchester’s Free Trade Hall and Strangeways Prison. Whitworth used the Firs mainly as a social, political and business base, entertaining radicals of the age such as John Bright, Richard Cobden, William Forster and T.H. Huxley at the time of the Reform Bill of 1867. Whitworth, credited with raising the art of machine-tool building to a previously-unknown level, supported the new Mechanics Institute in Manchester – the birthplace of UMIST - and helped to found the Manchester School of Design. Whilst living in the house, Whitworth used land to the rear (now the site of the University's botanical glasshouses) for testing his "Whitworth rifle". In 1882, the Firs was leased to C.P. Scott, Editor of the Manchester Guardian. After Scott's death the house became the property of Owens College, and was the Vice-Chancellor's residence until 1991. The old house now forms the western wing of Chancellors Hotel & Conference Centre at the University. The newer eastern wing houses the circular Flowers Theatre, six individual conference rooms and the majority of the 75 hotel bedrooms.

Moreover, the University owns and operate the Manchester Conference Centre on Sackville Street that offers conference facilities in its two theatres (seating up to 300) and 19 seminar rooms.[22]

Residential campuses

Prior to merging, the two universities had for some time been sharing their residential facilities. The North Campus lies on the previous UMIST Campus, comprising five halls of residence central to the Sackville Street building (Weston, Lambert, Fairfield, Chandos, Wright Robinson), and several other halls within a 5-15 minute walk away, such as the Grosvenor group of halls and Whitworth Park.

The Fallowfield Campus, situated 2 miles (3.2 km) south of the main university campus (the South Campus), is the largest of the University's residential campuses. The Owens Park tower lies at the centre of it, with Oak House being the other main hall of residence. Woolton Hall is also present on Fallowfield campus next to Oak house. Allen Hall is a traditional hall situated nearby equally classic (all-female) Ashburne Hall with the relatively recent addition of Sheavyn House. Richmond Park is also a relatively recent addition to the campus.

The Victoria Park Campus, situated between Fallowfield and the South Campus, just off Rusholme, comprises several halls of residence. Among these are the all-male St Anselm Hall ('Slems' - which also administers neighbouring Canterbury Court), Dalton-Ellis Hall (with Pankhurst Court), Hulme Hall (including Burkhardt House), St Gabriel's Hall (all-female), and Opal Gardens Hall.

Clubs and societies

Unlike some universities, the University of Manchester operates its own sports clubs via the Athletics Union. Student societies on the other hand are operated by the Student Union.

Today the university can boast more than 80 health and fitness classes whilst over 3000 students are members of the 44 various Athletic Union Clubs. The sports societies in Manchester vary widely in their level and scope. Many of the more popular sports have several university teams as well as departmental teams which may be placed in a league against other teams within the university. Common teams include: hockey, rugby, football, basketball, netball and cricket. The Manchester Aquatics Centre, the swimming pool used for the Manchester Commonwealth Games is also on the campus.

The University competes annually in 28 different sports against Leeds and Liverpool Universities in the Christie Cup, which Manchester has won for five consecutive years.[23] The university has also achieved considerable success in the BUCS (British Universities Sports Association) competitions. It is currently positioned in 10th place in the overall BUSA rankings for 2007/08[24]

Every year elite sportsmen and sportswomen at the university are selected for membership of the XXI Club, a society that was formed in 1932 and exists to promote sporting excellence at the university. Most members have gained a Full Maroon for representing The University and many have excelled at a British Universities or National level.

NHS hospitals

The Manchester Medical School, established in 1874, is one of the largest in the country,[25] with over 400 medical students being trained in each of the clinical years and over 350 students in the pre-clinical/phase 1 years. Approximately 100 students who have completed pre-clinical training at the Bute Medical School (University of St Andrews) join the third year of the undergraduate medical programme each year.

The University's Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences has links with a large number of NHS hospitals in the north west of England and maintains presences in its four base hospitals: Manchester Royal Infirmary (located at the southern end of the main university campus on Oxford Road), Wythenshawe Hospitals, Salford Royal and the Royal Preston Hospital. All are used for clinical medical training for doctors and nurses.

The School of Pharmacy at Manchester University also benefits from the University's links with the Manchester Royal Infirmary, Wythenshawe and Salford Royal hospitals. All of the undergraduate pharmacy students gain hospital experience through these links and are the only pharmacy students in the UK to have an extensive course completed in secondary care.[26]

Notable academic staff and alumni

See also: University of Manchester alumni Nobel Prize winners

Many notable and famous people have worked or studied at one or both of the two former institutions that merged to form the University of Manchester, including 23 Nobel prize laureates. Some of the best known include John Dalton (founder of modern atomic theory), George E. Davis (founded the discipline of Chemical Engineering), Bernard Lovell (a pioneer of radio astronomy), Alan Turing (one of the founders of computer science and artificial intelligence), Irene Khan (current secretary general of Amnesty International) and Robert Bolt (two times Academy Award winner and three times Golden Globe winner for screenwriting Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago). Additionally, a number of politicians are associated with the university, including the current Presidents of Belize, Iceland and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as several ministers among others in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Canada and Singapore and also Chaim Weizmann, a chemist and the first President of Israel.


  1. The University includes 'The' in its title, but this is for publicity purposes.
  2. Though the federal University of London is largest overall.
  3. Manchester unites to target world league. Sunday Times. Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
  4. 'Victoria University of Manchester' was the old University's official name, but was rarely used. 'University of Manchester' appeared on degree certificates and official material.
  5. University of the Year. The University of Manchester. Retrieved on 2007-04-25.
  6. Defeating Irene Khan. See University of Manchester: 'Tom Bloxham named new Chancellor for The University of Manchester'. 5th June 2008.
  7. Charlton, H. B. (1951). Portrait of a university, 1851-1951. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, x, 185. 
  8. Leading economist joins Manchester Business School. Manchester Business School. Retrieved on 2007-12-11.
  9. Towards 2015. The University of Manchester. Retrieved on 2007-04-25.
  10. World University Rankings. The Times Higher Education Supplement (2007). Retrieved on 2007-04-25.
  11. University of the Year. The University of Manchester. Retrieved on 2007-04-25.
  12. Top 500 World Universities. Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (2007). Retrieved on 2007-09-10.
  13. Most wanted students. The University of Manchester. Retrieved on 2007-04-25.
  14. Finances. The University of Manchester. Retrieved on 2008-01-24.
  15. One Central Park (The University of Manchester).
  16. Manchester Evening News 31 July 2007 Cash-strapped uni sells assets. Retrieved on 2007-10-04.
  17. The claim about the size is supported by the library web site in 2005, Archived page Dec 16 2005, however the current website does not make the claim [1], accessed 07/10/2007
  18. Manchester Museum's Our collection page. Retrieved on 2008-02-26.
  19. Manchester Prepares for the Appearance of Lindow Man, 24hourmuseum, February 2007[2]
  20. The History of The Manchester Museum, University of Manchester, [3], accessed 25/11/2007.
  21. A Short History of The Whitworth Art Gallery. Retrieved on 2008-03-10.
  22. Manchester conference facilities. Retrieved on 2008-04-03.
  23. Battle of the North. Retrieved on 2008-04-03.
  24. Championships - BUSA.
  25. School of Medicine. The University of Manchester. Retrieved on 2008-04-03.
  26. School of Pharmacy. The University of Manchester. Retrieved on 2008-04-04.