A man widely regarded as one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution was the inspiration for the creation of one of London’s top universities.
Brunel University is named after English mechanical and civil engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who made his named in Victorian times, becoming one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history.
Whilst the institution was formally established in 1966, it was almost a decade earlier in 1957 when the Brunel College of Technology separated from Acton Technical College, in order to focus on the education of engineers.
Brunel College of Technology was awarded the status of College of Advanced Technology in 1960, following the Robbins Report, recommending the immediate expansion of universities, and became Brunel College of Advanced Technology in 1962. In June 1966, Brunel College of Advanced Technology was awarded a Royal Charter and turned into its current guise. It is sometimes described as a British plate glass university.
And with a rich history, you might expect a forward-looking plan for the future. Cue Brunel University London 2030 – a strategy setting out the institution’s ambitions. More than 50 years after its formation, it aims to cement its position as a leader centre for research intensive technology.
Brunel 2030 sets five new goals in research, community, campus and community and global impact in its effort to be a university for a changing world.
This followed on the heels of a 10-year, £250 million masterplan for the campus which involved selling off sites at Runnymede, Osterley and Twickenham in order to renovate buildings and facilities on the Uxbridge campus, west London. Works carried out included a library extension, a state-of-the-art sports complex, renovated students’ union facilities, and a new Health Sciences teaching centre.
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Now, Brunel has a gym, spa, and running track with professional training and medical facilities. Other features of the campus include computer suites, recreational buildings for films, a pharmacy, a shop, two bars, a nightclub called Academy, and a café.
Its transport links put it in within touching distance of the English capital and all of its cultural offerings. Uxbridge Tube Station is the western terminus for branches of the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines of the London Underground.
In fact, its Uxbridge location has even proved popular with movie directors and has been the setting for several films, most famously in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, of which large parts were filmed on campus. It has also featured in several UK television series including Spooks, Silent Witness, The Sweeney and Inspector Morse.
Meanwhile, its notable alumni include The Libertines’ guitarist and vocalist Carl Barat, comedienne Jo Brand, former Arsenal captain Tony Adams, The Good Wife actress Archie Panjabi and prominent Labour MP John McDonnell.
And it’s not bad for research either, with a particular focus on Cancer Genetics, Environmental Science, Human-Centred Design, Materials Processing, Contemporary Music and Digital Performance, Children’s Education and Sports Medicine. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 90% of Brunel submissions were rated as being of international quality and it was ranked 33rd for ‘research power’ in 2014.