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Wolverhampton University


Wolverhampton University

University of Wolverhampton
Motto "Innovation and Opportunity"[1]
Established 1992 – University Status
1969 – Wolverhampton Polytechnic
1835 – Wolverhampton Mechanics' Institute
Type Public
Endowment £800,000[2]
Chancellor Lord Paul
Vice-Chancellor Professor Geoff Layer
Students 21,510[3]
Undergraduates 17,685[3]
Postgraduates 3,825[3]
Location Wolverhampton, England, UK
University of Wolverhampton

The University of Wolverhampton is a British university located on four campuses across the West Midlands, Shropshire and Staffordshire. The city campus is located in Wolverhampton city centre, with a second campus at Walsall and a third in Telford. There is an additional fourth campus in Wolverhampton at the University of Wolverhampton Science Park. The University also operates a Health Education Centre in Burton-upon-Trent for nursing students.

The institution was known as Wolverhampton Polytechnic before gaining university status in 1992. Its roots lie in the 19th Century growth of the Wolverhampton Mechanics’ Institute (founded 1835); the Wolverhampton Free Library (1870); and the School of Art, established in 1851, which came together as the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College in 1931.

The University has seven academic schools/faculties and several cross-disciplinary research centres and institutes.

It has approximately 23,000 students[3] and currently offers over 380 undergraduate and postgraduate courses.[4]

The University is noted for its success in encouraging wider participation in higher education.[5]


Initial establishment

The roots of the University of Wolverhampton lie in the 19th century growth of the Wolverhampton Mechanics’ Institute (founded 1835), which provided vocational and general education for working men; the Wolverhampton Free Library (1870) which developed technical, scientific, commercial and general classes; and the School of Art, established in 1851.[6]

In 1931 His Royal Highness, Prince George, laid the foundation stone for the new Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College.

By 1945, the creation of the Music Department allowed the College to capitalize on the growing demand for a variety of subject areas. Enrolment in the first year totalled 135, and by 1950 HM Inspectors stated "it was unique among technical colleges". The composer Vaughn Williams attended a performance of his ‘Riders to the Sea’ in early 1950.[7]

In 1951 the College's name was changed to the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire College of Technology, and the work of the High School of Commerce was partially transferred to the College.

In 1956 the Joint Education Committee of the college noted: "Research is an essential feature of any institution of higher learning. Very good work is being done in applied science, and mechanical engineering is bringing to fruition negotiation with a local firm for sponsored research into problems at heat exchangers".[7]

By 1957–58 the student numbers grew to 6,236. This included trainee teachers being enrolled into the College. Parallel developments with Wulfrun College set the foundations for the creation of the Faculty of Education created in 1977.[7]

The first computers also arrived in 1957, the WITCH (Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computing from Harwell). The annual report for 1956–57 records: "Following a visit of a member of staff to Harwell, the college in competition with eight other colleges was offered the gift of an Electronic Digital Computer." A number of local firms donated sums of money to cover the cost of maintenance and operation.[7] The WITCH is now considered to be the "oldest original functioning electronic stored program computer in the world"[8] and from September 2009 began restoration at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park.[9]

By 1964 with the further expansion of Higher Education the college began to provide BA degrees with options in English, Geography, History, Music, and Economics amongst others. By 1965 the college was offering a degree in Computer Technology.[7]

Polytechnic and gaining University status

In 1969 the College of Technology and the College of Art amalgamated to become Wolverhampton Polytechnic. The formal opening ceremony took place on 14 January 1970. Wolverhampton Polytechnic was operational by the creation of five faculties; Applied Science, Art and Design, Arts, Engineering and Social Sciences. The functional units were operated by committees such as the Academic Board, Faculty Boards, Planning and Standing Committees, Committee of Deans.[10]

1970 saw the opening of the New School of Art and Design, opened by Sir Charles Wheeler. Mergers with Teacher Training Colleges in Wolverhampton and Dudley in the 1970s added to the expansion of the Polytechnic, with additional growth in 1989 on Walsall Campus when the Polytechnic acquired the Teacher Training College ( West Midlands College of Higher Education ) site.[11]

In 1992 the Polytechnic was granted university status and became the University of Wolverhampton.

Expansion years

The University was further expanded by the construction of the Telford Campus, completed in 1994, which includes in its grounds the 18th Century, Grade II listed Priorslee Hall; the oldest building under the University of Wolverhampton's banner. Telford Campus teaches students from the Business School and the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

1994 also saw Wolverhampton become the first UK university to be awarded the Charter Mark for excellence in customer service.[11]

In 1995 the Wolverhampton Science Park opened (renamed the University of Wolverhampton Science Park in November 2012[12]); a collaboration between the University and the local council, with its main aim being to forge links between local businesses and the University's research departments. The Science Park housed The Creative Industries Centre, The Technology Centre, The Development Centre and other business and technology support services.

Also in 1995, two local nursing colleges – the United Midlands College for Nursing and Midwifery and the Sister Dora School of Nursing – amalgamated to form the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the Walsall campus, formerly West Midlands College of Higher Education.

In 1997 the University was the first to establish a virtual learning environment: WOLF (Wolverhampton Online Learning Framework) a system used by students and staff to support learning in most subject areas. It provides online space for tutors to make reference materials, notes, videos and documents related to a subject available. In 2008 an upgraded version ‘WOLF2’ was launched.

Two new learning centres were opened at the Telford and City campuses in 1998. These learning centres were a fusion of traditional libraries with high-tech facilities, aimed at providing a greater range of accessible materials for students. The following year the university opened the Arena Theatre on the City campus along with the new SC building in Telford.

Millennium to the present day

2000 saw the launch of a multi-million pound refurbishment programme.[13] From 2000–2010 £115 million was invested in campus developments. Highlights include the £26 million MC building opening by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP in February 2003.[14]

This was followed in 2004 by a teaching building called the 'Technology Centre', home of the School of Computing and IT, with in excess of 400 high-specification PCs running the very latest software for multimedia, games development and databases.[15] The same year a £4 million extension to the Harrison Learning Centre was completed.

In October 2005 Professor Caroline Gipps became Vice-Chancellor – the University's first female Vice-Chancellor.

In 2006 the City Campus North Administration and Teaching Building was erected, providing space for a 120-seat lecture theatre, 4 elliptical 35-seat learning pods and the bringing together of many administration departments to work all under the one roof and in 2007 a new building at Walsall Campus, which can accommodate over 1,100 students is arranged over four floors and provides a combination of specialist and open access IT facilities and office accommodation for the School of Education.

2009 saw the formation and launch of two new Schools: the School of Law, Social Sciences and Communications[16] and the School of Health and Wellbeing, as well as the launch of the research group Centre for Developmental and Applied Research in Education (CeDARE).[17]

The new School of Technology launched on 1 September 2010.[18] In 2011, the university in partnership with Walsall College opened the Black Country University Technical College, one of the first University Technical Colleges in England.[19]

The current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Layer, joined the University on 1 August 2011. September 2011 saw the opening of the Performance Hub at Walsall Campus; a multi-million pound teaching, learning, rehearsal and performance space for performing arts.[20]

Plans for a further £45 million investment in City Campus were announced in December 2012. The plans include the redevelopment of the current MB building on Stafford Street into a new Science Centre, a brand new Business School building opposite the Molineux Stadium. [21]

In 2013, the University celebrated its 21st anniversary since being granted university status on 17 June 1992.[22]


The University of Wolverhampton is located across four campuses across the West Midlands and Shropshire.

A free student and staff bus service operates between each of its campuses and campus towns, running between Wolverhampton city centre, Walsall and Telford.

The University provides one of the largest wireless networks in UK Higher Education, allowing students and staff remote access to the Internet across all its campuses.[23]

City Campus

City Campus is the main site for the University, and is situated in the heart of Wolverhampton city centre, right opposite Molineux Stadium, home of Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C., and approximately 16 miles (26 km) from Birmingham. Divided into City Campus South and City Campus North it is home to several academic schools/faculties; administration departments; the Students' Union and student support facilities. In addition, over 1000 students live in three separate Halls of Residence on this campus: North Road, Lomas Street and Randall Lines.

The £26 million Millennium City Building – opened in 2003 by the then Chancellor of the Excheqeur, the Rt Hon Gordon Brown – provides over 10,000 square metres of teaching space, audio-visual equipment in all rooms, 300-seat lecture theatre, exhibition gallery, campus restaurant, and an informal Social Learning Space.

The MI Building (Technology Centre) on City Campus contains an open plan workspace with over 400 PCs, as well as prototyping equipment and industry-standard software packages for 3D modelling and product design. The Centre includes two TV studios with remote-controlled cameras and a full lighting rig, plus a radio studio with digital editing suites.

The Harrison Learning Centre has traditional and electronic-based library facilities over four floors. It provides electronic auto-service and online cataloguing facilities, and academic librarians manage, monitor and update the available information

MX building, opened by Sarah Brown, wife of the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was opened in 2006 and brought together many administration departments to work all under the one roof.

Arena Theatre

Based on the City Campus in Wolverhampton, the Arena Theatre contains an auditorium seating 150, a studio seating 100 and a seminar room for up to 50 people. Its programme includes professional companies, celebrating drama, dance and music, as well as showcasing work by local schools, colleges, students, amateur companies and community events.[24][25]

Telford Innovation Campus

The purpose-built Telford Innovation Campus opened in 1994. 18 miles (29 km) from Wolverhampton and 26 miles (42 km) from Birmingham, the campus is on a greenfield site in the grounds of Priorslee Hall – a grade-II listed 18th Century redbrick mansion.

The campus houses facilities for engineering, built environment, business, computing and social work. Halls of residence for just under 500 students are located on campus together with a Learning Centre, a Students' Union bar, a floodlit tennis and basketball court, and a football pitch.

The campus is home to the e-Innovation Centre which provides startup companies and small and medium enterprises with business accommodation and funded support from a team of IT consultants, giving them access to the University's IT facilities, expertise and resources. It has hi-tech meeting rooms, social meeting areas, "hot-desking" provision, fully furnished offices, "incubation" units, and "grow-on" space for businesses who need to expand.[26]

Walsall Campus

The Walsall campus is based a mile from Walsall town centre and near both junction 7 and junction 9 of the M6 motorway. Students studying sport, music, dance, education, health, events management, tourism and hospitality are based here. Opened in 2005, the Student Village provides over 300 individual en-suite study rooms.

A multi-million pound sports centre houses a 12-court, multi-activity sports hall, a six-lane floodlit athletics track, an all-weather floodlit pitch, a dance studio and swimming pool. There are also fully equipped physiology, psychology and biomechanics.

A new teaching building contains a flexible IT teaching and learning area, three advanced lecture theatres, and specialist teaching rooms, ranging from primary science laboratories to specialist design and technology teaching facilities. It's also home to the Institute for Learning Enhancement which leads innovative practice in learning and teaching for the University.

Refurbished facilities at Boundary House allow trainee nurses and other healthcare professionals to follow the academic part of their course.

The University of Wolverhampton's Walsall Campus Sports Centre was named as an official training base for the 2012 Olympics. It is included in the Guide for National Olympic Committees (NOCs) for the Olympic sports of Basketball, Judo and Taekwondo. The Guide will be used by countries organising their training programmes in the run-up to the Olympics.[27]

The Performance Hub houses state-of-the-art performing arts facilities and opened in September 2011.

Walsall Campus was named as the location of a new judo Centre of Excellence in England by the British Judo Association. The Centre became operational in September 2013.[28]

University of Wolverhampton Science Park

The University of Wolverhampton Science Park is home to around 80 innovative businesses working in science, technology, knowledge-based and creative sectors. As well as business support services, it offers office accommodation and workshop/laboratory areas for companies, as well as conference and meeting facilities.

The Science Park was formed in 1993 as a joint venture between the University of Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton City Council.

Burton Health Education Centre

The School of Health and Wellbeing has a presence at Burton Health Education Centre, which specialises in nursing. The campus has a Learning Centre[29] (open 5 days a week) which provides a wide range of books, leaflets, and electronic and paper journals for staff, students and external members. There is also a common room and IT facilities.

The campus is located on the Outwoods site, opposite Queens Hospital on Belvedere Road. The site can be accessed from Burton upon Trent town centre on the Arriva 3, 3A and 3B bus routes.

Sustainability initiatives

In June 2008 the University gained official Fairtrade status,[30] with Fairtrade products being sold in University food and drink outlets across its campuses. Each year activities take place across the University to mark the annual national Fairtrade fortnight.[31]

Since April 2009 the University has been one of eleven universities participating in the Carbon Trust's fifth HE Carbon Management programme which helps Universities to access and reduce their carbon footprint.[32]

Structure and organisation

Coat of arms

The University's Arms show supporters on either side of the shield. These represent Lady Wulfrun often regarded as the founder of what is now the City of Wolverhampton in AD circa 980 (a settlement described as Wulfruna's Heantun in the Saxon Chronicles) and Thomas Telford the renowned Engineer who, in 1787 became surveyor of public works for Shropshire and whose works and structures can be seen across the Region and the Nation and after whom the Shropshire New Town was named.[1]

The motto of the University is "Innovation and Opportunity".[1]


The University of Wolverhampton is led by the Board of Governors and Offices of the Vice-Chancellor. It has seven academic schools/faculties,[33] 14 research institutes and centres,[34] and a range of other departments.[35]

The Honorary position of Chancellor is the figurehead of the University and presides over the University's ceremonial occasions and acts as its Ambassador. The role of Chancellor was created following the grant of University title in 1992.[36]

The Board of Governors is responsible for the oversight of the University's activities and for the effective and efficient use of resources and the safeguarding of assets. It has 18 members including nine independent members and a representative of the student body.[37]

The Offices of the Vice-Chancellor has responsibility for the overall management of the University. The Offices of the Vice-Chancellor are led by the Vice-Chancellor assisted by three Deputy Vice-Chancellors, the University Registrar and Secretary, and Finance Director. The Offices of the Vice-Chancellor are also responsible for implementing corporate strategy and operational policy decisions from Academic Board and the Board of Governors.[38]

Each Academic School/Faculty is managed by a Dean[39] aided by Associate Deans. The academic provision in the Schools is supported by support departments each managed by a head or director.

Wolverhampton's current Chancellor is The Rt Hon Lord Paul of Marylebone, PC,[36] and its current Vice-Chancellor is Professor Geoff Layer, who took up the position in 2011.[40]

Academic profile


The University of Wolverhampton has seven academic Schools:[41]

  • The School of Art and Design
  • The School for Education Futures
  • The School of Health and Wellbeing
  • The School of Law, Social Sciences and Communications
  • The School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure
  • The University of Wolverhampton Business School
  • The Faculty of Science and Engineering


The University's cross-disciplinary Research Institutes and Centres bring together scholars in a programme of research projects, conferences/seminars, and knowledge exchange with industry and others:[42]

  • Centre for Art, Design, Research and Experimentation (CADRE)
  • Centre for Developmental and Applied Research in Education (CeDARE)
  • Centre for Discourse and Cultural Studies
  • Centre for Health and Social Care Improvement (CHSCI)
  • Centre for Historical Research (previously known as the History and Governance Research Institute until summer 2009)
  • Centre for Transnational and Transcultural Research (CTTR)
  • Centre for Research in Law
  • Engineering and Computer Science Research Centre
  • Management Research Centre (MRC)
  • Research Centre for Sport, Exercise and Performance (RCSEP)
  • Research Institute in Healthcare Science (RIHS)
  • Research Institute in Information and Language Processing (RIILP)
  • Brain Tumour UK Neuro-Oncology Research Centre (opened February 2010)[43]
  • Built Environment, Information Systems and Learning Technology Research Centre

According to the Times Higher Education's league tables for the RAE of 2008, Wolverhampton was ranked at equal 93rd from 132 institutions for research. Wolverhampton was the joint fourth best university in the UK for linguistics and is the highest-rated new university in that subject area.[44] The Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group was joint second in the country for library and information management.[44] Also in 2008, a University of Wolverhampton academic, Mike 'Rodney' Thelwall, was ranked number one in the world in a list of leading researchers in the field of informetrics.[45] The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) announced a 1,290% increase in funding allocation for Wolverhampton's Quality Research (QR). The QR allocation of £1.905 million for Wolverhampton was the highest amount for a new university in the West Midlands.[46]


The university is noted for its success in encouraging wider participation in higher education. [5] A third of the places are filled by mature students.[47]

Strongly regional in outlook, the university draws two thirds of its students from the West Midlands,[5] although there are also 2500 overseas students studying at the university which has offices in China, India, Poland, Malaysia and Nigeria.[48]

Between 2005 and 2009 five staff were awarded National Teaching Fellowships.[49][50][51]

The University of Wolverhampton won two Lord Stafford Awards in 2007, recognising its excellence in innovative work with businesses. Rachel Westwood of SkinScientists Ltd won the "Entrepreneurial Spirit Award" for her innovative brand of "cosmeceuticals" especially formulated for men. Robert Harris, Principal Lecturer Corporate Programmes, University of Wolverhampton Business School, won the "West Midlands Knowledge Transfer Champion Award" for his contribution to knowledge transfer activities between the University and companies in the West Midlands.[52]

In May 2008 the University was awarded an unprecedented seven Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, securing its top position in the West Midlands. In September 2009 it was awarded £24.3 million for knowledge transfer, bringing it to 2nd place nationally for the number of KTPs it runs. The University will lead a consortium of all 12 of the universities in its region to increase the number of partnerships from 70 to 210 over the next three years.[53]

In April 2009, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) institutional audit found that confidence can reasonably be placed in the soundness of the institution's present and likely future management of both the academic standards and the quality of the learning opportunities available to students.[47][54]

The results of the ninth National Student Survey in 2013 revealed an overall student satisfaction rate at Wolverhampton of 83%, compared to 80% in 2012. Satisfaction with the learning resources (which includes IT and library facilities) also went up three per cent, with 88% of students saying they were satisfied. In addition, 83% of students reported that they were satisfied with the teaching on their course.[55][56]

The University has pursued a policy of non-participation in the league table rankings produced by British newspapers, such that rankings which would compare its performance to that of other British universities are unavailable. The University takes the view that league tables disadvantage universities such as Wolverhampton as they are constructed using a methodology that does not accurately reflect the positive impact on the communities they serve or represent a fair picture of their strengths.[57][58]

In June 2013, a University team won a Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Award (THELMA) in the category of Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year for its "one-stop shop" approach to promoting services to businesses.[59]

Student life

Students' Union

The Union is run by an Executive Committee, which consists of a President and three full-time Vice Presidents (all four are also trustees of the organisation) and up to nine part-time, Non-Sabbatical Officers. These posts are elected annually by a cross-campus ballot. The current President is Simeon Chandra.[60] The Union organises one-off events such as Freshers' Fayre.

In partnership with the University the Union runs the Student Voice to ensure that students have the opportunity to express their views and participate in decisions that affect them.[61]

The Union runs an Advice and Support Centre (ASC) which offers advice on university life and on specific issues such as housing, finance, international and academic concerns. The ASC is affiliated to, among others, Citizens Advice.[62]

There are over 50 societies which are run by students.

The Athletic Union is the department of the Students' Union that represents, co-ordinates, administers and promotes sporting and recreational activities for students. It includes over twenty sports clubs ranging from football, rugby and hockey to martial arts, squash and volleyball. It is a member of the British Universities & Colleges Sport.[63]

Student accommodation

The University offers over 1600 places in Halls of Residence across three campuses, including over 1000 rooms with en-suite facilities.[64]

Accommodation at City, Telford and Walsall campuses have wireless access in the bedrooms and communal areas. Across all campuses facilities for students with any impairments are offered, whether this is hearing, sight, mobility or any other. These include wheelchair adapted rooms and facilities for deaf/hard of hearing students.

Flats are available to rent for couples or students coming to University with their partner or spouse. The University has many links with local accredited landlords that have properties around the campuses. All landlords are required to be a member of the Midlands Landlord Accreditation Scheme (MLAS).


There are numerous opportunities for students to get involved with volunteering and work with the local community. These are co-ordinated by Active Volunteers, the University's volunteering agency. All student volunteers are eligible to register for the University of Wolverhampton Volunteering Certificate. Registered students are then able to be nominated for the University's Volunteer of the Year Award which recognises outstanding contribution to volunteering.[65]

The Students' Union also offers opportunities including the Volunteer Squad and BestMates.[66]

Links with business and industry

85% of the University's 2010 graduates found jobs and/or were pursuing further training according to the Destinations of Leavers From Higher Education (DHLE) survey.[67][68]

Students also have a variety of opportunities to gain work experience while they are studying and on graduation. These include graduate placements such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP). The University is leading on the £5.2M national Student Placements for Entrepreneurs in Education West Midlands (SPEED WM) project[69] involving 13 UK universities, to help students create their own businesses whilst they are studying. 'Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs' is aimed at helping new entrepreneurs to acquire relevant skills for managing a small or medium-sized enterprise by spending time working in another EU country with an experienced entrepreneur in his/her company. And SP/ARK provides facilities, accommodation, training and mentoring for business start-ups and freelancers in new media and design.

In 2013 the University won a Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Award for Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year.[70]


In 1984/85, the Faculty of Art and Design was closed without warning over the Christmas period and remained closed for many months whilst contractors stripped asbestos from the building. Students were given no warning of the closure and many lost hundreds of pounds worth of equipment stored in lockers in the building. The Local Authority shifted blame to the contractor, and vice versa. The student union engaged solicitors on the students' behalf but no compensation was ever awarded.

In a Times column dated 29 February 1988, the writer Bernard Levin cited the then Wolverhampton Polytechnic as an example of how student unions were allegedly dominated by the political hard left.

In 1998 Dr. Ian Connell left the university after being found guilty of academic misconduct. A few weeks later he committed suicide, apparently depressed by his situation.[71]

In 2001 the University was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive after local doctors reported an unusually large number of staff seeking their help for stress and bullying.[72]

In 2002, the university paid out £30,000 in an out-of-court settlement to Mike Austen, a dissatisfied law student, who sued on the grounds of multiple misrepresentations and multiple breaches of the student contract.[73]

In July 2006 in a swimming pool at the university's Walsall campus, a disabled rugby player drowned whilst not being supervised properly by lifeguards and managers, an inquest jury ruled.[74]

In 2009 the University Executive announced that the University was in financial difficulties, needing to make savings of £8 million.[75] This followed reports in the media that it had understated student non-completion rates to HEFCE.[76] The University announced it was taking steps to reduce expenditure on staff pay and launched a voluntary redundancy exercise on 1 October 2009.[75] This concluded with the loss of 150 posts through voluntary redundancy.


Notable alumni

Notable academics

  • The broadcaster/journalist Jeff Randall, sculptor Anish Kapoor,[79] artist Roy Ascott, and the author Howard Jacobson have all lectured at Wolverhampton. Jacobson's experience formed the basis of his novel Coming from Behind, set at a "fictional" polytechnic in the Midlands..


Coordinates: 52°35′14″N 2°07′38″W / 52.58722°N 2.12722°W / 52.58722; -2.12722

External links

  • University of Wolverhampton website
  • University of Wolverhampton YouTube channel
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