Founding principles - our proud history
UCL was established in 1826 in order to open up education in England for the first time to students of any race, class or religion. By 1878, it had become the first English university to welcome female students on equal terms with men.
The founding principles of academic excellence and research aimed at addressing real-world problems continue to inform our ethos to this day.
UCL is one of the world’s leading multi-disciplinary universities. It operates in a global context and is committed to excellence, innovation, and the promotion of global understanding in all its activities: research, teaching, learning, enterprise and community engagement.
Our central location in the capital offers close interaction with Bloomsbury’s cultural and intellectual vibrancy, Westminster and Whitehall, the City and our world-class hospital partners.
For almost two centuries, our staff, students and alumni have endeavoured to shape the modern world. Their achievements include:
- advances in communications such as the invention of the thermionic valve, making modern electronics possible, the development of the telephone and wireless telegraphy and the establishment of the first transatlantic computer network connection, the precursor of the internet
- biomedical breakthroughs such as the identification of hormones and vitamins, the first antiseptic treatment of wounds and understanding of the physiology of nerve cells and their synaptic connections
- the identification of the structure of DNA, the basis of the human genome project
- discovery of the inert gases, including neon, which resulted in the first of 28 Nobel Prizes so far earned by people who are, or were, students or academics at UCL.
View UCL’s interactive timeline to discover more about the groundbreaking developments that have taken place at UCL between 1826 and the present day.
[These are taken directly from the White Paper – we are revisiting these values through a widespread consultation with the UCL community.]
- Commitment to excellence and advancement on merit
- Fairness and equality
- Collegiality and community building
- Ethically acceptable standards of conduct
- Fostering innovation and creativity
- Developing leadership
- Environmental sustainability