The University of Bradford has built a reputation as a trail-blazer, leading the way on several fronts during its fascinating history. It became the first education provider of its kind to introduce a Department of Peace Studies, which to this day is the world’s biggest university centre for the study of peace and conflict. It also became the first British university to establish a modern business school, and the first outside London to offer students part-time degree courses.
The university is viewed as a respected hub for peace research, security studies, conflict resolution and international relations. It is steeped in a fascinating history, dating back to the Mechanics Institute, founded in 1832 in response to the city’s search for workers with workplace skills. Half a century later, the institute was renamed Bradford Technical College, at a time when Bradford was the world’s most popular textile venue, with its products exported across the globe.
In 1957, Bradford Institute of Technology was created in order to take over the higher education responsibilities of Bradford Technical College. Building work on the biggest campus building, Richmond Building, started six years later, before the Horton Building and Chesham were added to the mix.
By 1966, Bradford Institute of Technology had been handed a Royal Charter and became the University of Bradford, the 40th provider of its kind in the country. Famously, Prime Minister Harold Wilson then became the university’s first ever Chancellor, after which student enrolment and the number of courses gradually increased.
The main campus was expanded again in the 1970s, courtesy of a new library, communal buildings and a computer centre. In 1987, the university became one of the 12 founding members of the Northern Consortium, an educational charity.
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Having taught 2,000 students back in 1966, it now boasts a population of 17,000 today, 4,000 of whom are international learners. Of its 2016 graduates, 93% went on to further study or employment within six months. The university is ranked first in the UK for undergraduate nursing and midwifery placement satisfaction (NSS), and also ranks in the country’s top 10 for occupational therapy, physiotherapy, forensic science, ophthalmics and medical technology (CUG).
The university was placed 55th in the QS National University Rankings for 2018, and 601-650 for the world equivalent. It also picked up the accolade for Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development in the Times Higher Education Awards for two consecutive years.
Notable former students include BBC television journalist John Pienaar, Tori Good, the BBC weather forecaster, Time Team presenter John Gater, news correspondent Alex Brummer, and Tony O’Reilly, chairman of Independent News & Media Group.
Many ex-students also went on to forge careers in the world of politics, such as Labour MPs Roland Boyes, David Chaytor, Michael Clapham and David Hinchcliffe, Conservative MEP Amjad Bashir, and Liberal Democrat David Ward, MP for Bradford East. From the entertainment business, University of Bradford alumni comprise musician Jean-Jacques Burnel, performance poet John Hegley, beauty queen Felicia Hwang, composer Benson Taylor, and comic book artist Tula Lotay.