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The establishment of the University of Warwick was given approval by the government in 1961 and received its Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1965.
The idea for a university in Coventry was mooted shortly after the conclusion of the Second World War but it was a bold and imaginative partnership of the City and the County which brought the University into being on a 400-acre site jointly granted by the two authorities. Since then, the University has incorporated the former Coventry College of Education in 1978 and has extended its land holdings by the purchase of adjoining farm land.
The University initially admitted a small intake of graduate students in 1964 and took its first 450 undergraduates in October 1965. In October 2013, the student population was over 23,000 of which 9,775 are postgraduates. Around a third of the student body comes from overseas and over 120 countries are represented on the campus.
Departments and research centres
The University has 29 academic departments and over 50 research centres and institutes, in four Faculties: Arts, Medicine, Science and Social Sciences. The new Medical School took its first students on an innovative 4-year accelerated postgraduate programme in September 2000. In summer 2004 the first 64 students graduated from the school. In October 2010 the combined intake of the Warwick Medical School was 403, making it one of the largest in the country. Since 2007 the University has been empowered to award its own medical degrees.
In 2007, under the Vice Chancellorship of Professor Sir Nigel Thrift, the University launched its new Strategy, Vision 2015. Incorporating a number of ideas generated by the University community itself, the Strategy laid out a number of ambitious goals in research, teaching and learning, internationalisation, UK stakeholders and income generation.
To date, progress has been made against a number of strategic objectives, including the establishment of a Warwick Prize for Writing, IGGY, increase in the value of research awards and the number of highly cited academics at the University, the publication of the second Warwick Commission on International Financial Reform and the development of collaborations and partnerships with overseas universities including Boston University, UCLA, Monash and Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Much progress has been made and the University has sought to reaffirm its commitment to its core ambitions while refocusing on how they will be achieved in the light of significant changes in the wider financial and political context. An updated Strategy was therefore published in September 2014.
From its beginnings, the University has sought to be excellent in both teaching and research. It has now secured its place as one of the UK’s leading research universities, confirmed by the results of the government’s Research Assessment Exercises of 1986, 1989, 1992, 1996, 2001 and 2008.
We performed strongly in the Government’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, in which we strengthened our position amongst the UK’s ten best research universities. Find out more >>
Warwick has always taken the view that good research informs and strengthens the quality of education that it is able to offer its students. The original conception for the academic structure of the University was not to impose overall academic prescription but to make early appointments to the first professorships, selecting candidates with fresh and constructive ideas on how studies in their areas should be organised and developed.
The planning of courses developed organically with a marked emphasis on inter-disciplinary cooperation. Business Studies and Engineering – both looking firmly towards the manufacturing heartlands of the West Midlands – were early developments. Warwick was a pioneer in seeking industrial-academic links, a key component of its strategy today just as it was in the original vision of the first Vice-Chancellor, Mr J B Butterworth (Lord Butterworth) and the Chairman of the Promotion Committee for the University, Lord Rootes.
Popular with students from all backgrounds
The University has become increasingly popular with students (there are now nine applications for every available place) and in 2010 81% of the undergraduates admitted to Warwick has an A level score on entry of AAB or above. But it has been a mark of Warwick’s strategy to encourage and facilitate admission from those less well-advantaged and from poorer backgrounds.
From its beginnings, it has welcomed applications from mature students (who often have no formal qualifications but can show the potential necessary for higher education). In 1986, Warwick launched what has been a highly successful part-time degrees programme. In 1991 the University initiated an innovative shared 2+2 degree programme with a group of local FE Colleges which was specifically aimed at individuals with few if any formal qualifications and who were often in situations of considerable social and economic disadvantage. Warwick has involved itself in the new Foundation Degrees that were piloted in 2001.