University of Central Lancashire

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University of Central Lancashire
UCLan Coat of Arms.jpg
Motto Latin: Ex solo ad solem
Motto in English "From the Ground to the Sun"

1828 – Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge established

1992 – University status granted
Type Public
Chancellor Sir Richard Evans
Vice-Chancellor Prof Gerry Kelleher
Students 32,040[1]
Undergraduates 27,845[1]
Postgraduates 4,195[1]
Location Preston, England
Coordinates: 53°45′47″N 2°42′27″W / 53.763021°N 2.7074°W / 53.763021; -2.7074
Campus Urban
Affiliations Million+
University of Central Lancashire

The University of Central Lancashire (or UCLan) is a university based in Preston, Lancashire, England.

The university has its roots in The Institution For The Diffusion Of Useful Knowledge which was founded in 1828. Subsequently known as Harris Art College, then Preston Polytechnic, then Lancashire Polytechnic, in 1992 it was granted university status by the Privy Council. The university is the eighth largest in the UK in terms of student numbers.[2]


The Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was founded in 1828 by Joseph Livesey's Temperance Society. The society was born from a pledge made by seven Preston working men (whose names can be seen on a plaque in the university's library) to never again consume alcohol.

The institute was housed in a classical-revivalist building on Cannon Street, before eventually expanding under the endowment of a local lawyer, Edmund Robert Harris, who died in 1877. The expansion brought with it several new buildings and houses in the nearby Regent Street were purchased and demolished as a consequence. The institute became a regional centre of excellence for the arts and sciences.

As part of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897, the institute's trustees paid the Victorian/Edwardian architect Henry Cheers to design the "Victoria Jubilee Technical School" (later known as the Harris Institute and now known as the Harris Building), to be built on Corporation Street. Its goal was to provide local youths with a technical education in all areas. The building was progressive for the period, being powered entirely by electricity.

The institute existed in this state until 1932 when it changed its name to become the Harris Art College. It underwent further expansion and in 1952 and became the Harris College. In 1973 this became Preston Polytechnic then the Lancashire Polytechnic in 1984. In 1992, full university status was awarded and the University of Central Lancashire came into existence. The first chancellor of the university was Sir Francis Kennedy and he was succeeded in 2001 by Sir Richard Evans.

The journalism division, now part of the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, is one of the oldest in the country, opening as part of the Harris College in 1962. In 1991, it became one of the first to teach journalism undergraduate degrees, with a strong emphasis on practical work.

In 2013 the School of Dentistry and the School of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education merged to create the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The university sponsors the Visions Learning Trust and Wigan UTC, two university technical colleges which are opening in Sepmtember 2013.[3][4]


The university is on an urban campus in Preston. It also has a Burnley campus, alongside a new €53 million Cyprus campus which opened in October 2012.[5]


The School of Education and Social Science building, Livesey House, was named after the temperance activist Joseph Livesey.

The university opened the brand new JB Firth building in September 2011, at a cost of £12.5 million. The building houses the School of Forensic and Investigative Sciences, which includes subjects such as Chemistry and Forensic science. The new building has a 4,000m2 teaching area, which includes six laboratories: two for Chemistry undergraduate teaching, one for Chemistry research, one analytical laboratory and two fire laboratories. The building was named after James Brierly Firth, a founder of forensic science in Britain.[6]

The Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre opened, replacing the Foster Sports Centre, in 2011. It is a purpose built indoor facility on the main campus and offers Students' Union sports clubs, instructor-led classes and individual training.

Academic profile[edit]

The Harris Building, built in 1897
The Adelphi Building

The university has the following schools:

  • Art, Design and Performance
  • Built and Natural Environment
  • Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences
  • Education and Social Science
  • Forensic and Investigative Sciences
  • Health
  • Journalism, Media and Communication
  • Lancashire Business School
  • Lancashire Law School
  • Languages and International Studies
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors

International collaborations[edit]

Through partnerships with local organizations, students have the possibility to register to UCLan undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in almost twenty countries on the globe, in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the USA. In some of the partnerships, students have the possibility to study an entire programme of studies, for instance a bachelor's degree from year 1 to year 3, and thus graduate from the university without being physically present.[citation needed]

Film production[edit]

UCLAN is the only university in the UK to run a feature film module, the most recent of this series is The Wedding (2013). Previous include Wraith (2012)[7] and Needle In The Hay (2011) [8]

Research project[edit]

In 2012, UCLAN announced a partnership with the UK's biggest arms company, (BAE Systems), and four other north-western universities (Liverpool, Salford, Lancaster and Manchester) in order to work on the Gamma Programme which aims to develop "autonomous systems". According to the University of Liverpool when referring to the programme, "autonomous systems are technology based solutions that replace humans in tasks that are mundane, dangerous and dirty, or detailed and precise, across sectors, including aerospace, nuclear, automotive and petrochemicals".[9]

Student life[edit]

Students' Union[edit]

The Students' Union venue, 53 Degrees.

The nightclub and live music venue at the Students' Union, '53 Degrees', has two floors with a bar on each and occasionally hosts well known musical performers. Across two rooms, total capacities are 1,100 & 350 for club nights and 1,400 and 350 for all live gigs. The adjoining bar, 'Source', is open seven days a week during term times.

The Student's Union played host to the legendary Feel clubnights that began in January 1994 and ran until 2005 [10][11]


There are over 35 sports clubs run by the students’ union. Many have block bookings at the Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre in term-time for training and matches. The sports clubs participate in British Universities and Colleges Sport competitions and have home and away fixtures.

The university outdoor sport facilities can be found at UCLan Sports Arena (USA) which is located just 2 miles away and was opened in 2000 by The Princess Royal. The £12 million[citation needed] arena provides facilities for Rugby League, Rugby Union, Football (5 grass pitches) Hockey (2 floodlit all weather pitches) Netball and Tennis (4 floodlit courts) and Cycling (1 mile (1.6 km) circuit), as well as an eight lane athletics area, equipped for school, club and county competitions.

The university's Motor Sports Engineering and Operations students run a motor racing team, UCLAN Racing.[12]


Pluto is the student newspaper. It is usually published every fortnight, and began in 1985 as the Ribble Echo. It is now printed in tabloid format with colour photography.

In 1998, Pluto was awarded Guardian 'Student Newspaper of the Year'.[13][14]

In 2007 the paper undertook two investigations which gained wider media coverage.

The first published in October 2007 exposed the chairman of the Conservative Future Society at the Students' Union, Fergus Bowman, as the leader of a homophobic Facebook (public) group called 'Homos Burn in Hell'. Bowman was quoted on the group making homophobic comments. The BBC reported Bowman resigned his position and the Mirror reported he had been suspended by the University of Central Lancashire Students' Union.

In December 2007 a three-week long undercover investigation exposed a UCLan masters student Kai Li for running an essay-writing scam across a number of UK universities. The Preston Citizen reported how the student had been charging up to £1,000 for essays and the BBC reported he had been suspended and disciplined by the university.

Deputy News Editor Ricki Dewsbury, now at the Daily Mail, won three awards[15] at the Press Gazette Student Journalism Awards in June 2008], for his work in both stories.[16] Dewsbury was made Student Journalist of the Year, News Writer of the Year and picked up Scoop of the Year for the investigation into the essay-writing scam.

Notable alumni[edit]

Scottish MSP Aileen McLeod
Deputy Leader of UKIP Paul Nuttall


External links[edit]