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Top CollegesUCL London - History, Campuses, Education, Students

UCL London – History, Campuses, Education, Students

UCL London | University College London

University College London was established in 1826 after the University of Cambridge and Oxford. As per the number of students and facilities, it’s the third-largest university and finds its place in the top 10 universities worldwide.

Its main campus is in Bloomsbury, London, but the university has various branches worldwide. It is famous for its various courses, popular Alumni, sports, and research. They promote a secular environment and have students from over 150 countries.

The university offers a variety of courses in every field, and with changing times and technology, they continue to add more courses to their list. University College of London got a great reputation worldwide, and most students are willing to be admitted here.

However, they are very selective when it comes to admission. Only 38% of students get through the selection process. Also, it’s among the most expensive college you can find in London, but if we look at its popularity, widespread acceptability, research, and courses, the university is worth exploring.

UCL History

UCL was founded in 1826, and initially, it was known as London University. Oxford and Cambridge universities were already a success, and UCL was brought as an alternative to these campuses. Their team faced difficulty establishing the campus and setting the facilities, but they successfully got through and created a renowned university that everyone knows about.

The first chair of political economy was introduced in 1827 to establish the first department of Economics in London. It was the first college to offer English subjects in 1828, and in 1833, the university appointed its first professor of geography.

Until 1900 the university was autonomous and operated according to its procedures, but in 1900, it was reconstituted as a federal university under the University of London act 1898. Until then, the university has managed to open various colleges in London that became a school of the University of London. During that time, most institutions retained their autonomy, but UCL decided to merge, and in 1907, the name changed to University College London. The university is among the oldest establishments in London and even worldwide. It got a rich history, but to date, the college has retained its status and is famous among students for international studies.

UCL Current campuses

Their main campus is situated in Bloomsbury, London. The same college campus started in 1826 and provides various courses and research facilities inside the campus. You probably find an option to take admission to this campus; however, there are many others.

In 2014, UCL announced that they would be constructing a new campus at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that will be referred to as UCL East. According to the recent updates, the construction will be finished in 2022, and soon, the university will be functional and ready to accept students and staff.

Apart from these two campuses, UCL has many other sites that include

  • The Windeyer Institute situated in Fitzrovia
  • UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, situated in Clerkenwell
  • The Royal Free Hospital and the Whittington Hospital campuses
  • The UCL Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science is situated in Stanmore
  • The UCL School of Management in London
  • The Department of Space and Climate Physics; it’s a science laboratory based in Holmbury St Mary, Surrey
  • One Canada Square is situated in London.
  • A campus specialising in archaeology and museums is based in Qatar, Doha.

Apart from these campuses, the university had various sites that started for specialised certificate projects, but with time, courses were completed, and all those campuses were closed. Recently all the campuses discussed in the above list are operative and accept students from any country.

Courses that University College London offers?

As a student, you are not interested in buildings or history; if the college doesn’t provide the studies and certificates you are willing to achieve, it’s useless. Luckily, UCL offers a variety of courses, so it’s easy for students to select one of their choices. Even they continuously update their list of courses to stay with the time and changing trends.

At UCL, you can easily find courses in the field of

  • Brain Sciences
  • Mathematical & Physical Sciences
  • Population Health Sciences
  • Bartlett (Built Environment)
  • Social & Historical Sciences
  • Engineering Sciences
  • Arts & Humanities
  • Institute of Education
  • Laws
  • Life Sciences
  • Medical Sciences

All these fields have various subcategories and different types of certifications. UCL covers almost all of them. You have to search for the related course on their official website to get the exact details and requirements for admissions. You can also contact their support in case of confusion.

Students and Staff

As per the latest available data for 2019-20, the university comprises 43,900 students from over 150 countries. Since the pandemic, the university has seen a decline in admissions due to lockdowns and closed classes, and the data for 2020-22 is not available.

With such a massive number of students, the university also has an experienced staff of 7,700 members, including 840 professors (the largest in any British university). They got an academic staff that includes 5,845 full-time and 1,855 part-time teachers. Despite such a huge structure and thousands of members, UCL continues to provide a world-class education that most students are willing to be admitted to the university.


Finding a new place to live in an unknown country while studying is a tedious task, and accommodation is required for international students, especially in their early days of college. UCL understands that and provides one year of guaranteed accommodation for new students. Later they will ask you to search for a housing or hostel option in the private sector.

This doesn’t mean you are no more eligible to stay in the campus hostels, but the places are limited, and most students don’t get through. If you are willing to stay in the same place or a place provided by the university, try applying for hostels in the University of London’s intercollegiate residence halls. They might consider special requests, but it isn’t easy.

In 2013, to solve this problem, UCL invested in constructing a new building to accommodate all their students, but that project failed. The building got a label as the country’s worst new building by Building Design magazine. They also reported that the building is unfit for human occupation.  

Then the decision was downturned and allowed students to stay inside yet again, the decision was overturned in another appeal, and to date, it’s disputed. Second and third-year undergraduate students and graduate students face the consequences where they need to find accommodation for themselves. There is no solution for this problem and be prepared to find your place of living from the second year onwards. Preparing early will provide you with many benefits.

Co-curricular activities

The UCL provides various services and extra co-curricular for international and domestic students. If somehow you don’t find your interest in studies, you also get exposure to other activities to which you can shift your career. Some of these activities include


The student union of UCL runs over seventy sports clubs that include clubs for cricket, boating, rugby, running, athletics, gymnasium, and other sports clubs. The university often organises inter-university competitions with British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) that include a variety of sports like basketball, hockey, netball, rugby union, cricket, fencing, football, and tennis.

They got a wide history in sports where the college has claimed various titles and achieved many awards. If you are willing to participate in sports with your academics, you get a huge exposure at UCL.

Students’ union

Elections and presidentships are common in colleges, but student unions are a little different at University College London because it includes s variety of other activities. The university operates a representative voice for UCL students and includes a wide range of services. Currently, UCL has over 250 clubs and societies under its umbrella that the student union has to take care of.

As a part of the student union, you will be supporting a range of services that includes clubs, societies, sports, bars, cafes, shops, and various other advisory services.  

Studying through notes gives you theoretical knowledge, but being a part of a student union will teach you a lot of real-life experience about how most services functions in the real world. It’s great exposure for students and teaches them a lot.

Student campaigns

As a part of UCL, you can participate in various strikes and campaigns against the government, private bodies, or even the university itself. It teaches you to raise your voice and demand your right. The university has a history of various successful strikes that resulted in students’ favours. Some of them include

1. UCLU Free Education Campaign – It was organised for the return of free and non-commercial higher education for students.

2. The London Living Wage Campaign – The famous campaign was for the staff where students demanded a minimum wage guarantee for all UCL staff.

3. Disarm UCL – This particular campaign refrained the university from investing in defence companies. It was a successful campaign.

4. Save UCL – There have two campaigns in the name of saving UCL. The first was in 2006, which opposed the merger of UCL and Imperial College London, and the most recent similar campaign was against Education Cuts.

5. Against the fees raise – It was when around 200 students marched against the fees increase policy of UCL and were successful in convincing the UK government to stop any price increases in 2010.

There have been many other campaigns in the history of UCL. Some recent ones were against the high rents and poor living conditions for university students. There have been 2-3 strikes against the living conditions and poor hotel environment, which show the university needs to focus on the matter.

As a student, you can be a part of any upcoming campaigns that will provide you with practical lessons about unity and harmony that are hard to understand by reading.


You also learn about rivalry and healthy competition among students and colleagues in other activities. UCL has a long-running rivalry with King’s College London, historically known as Rags. King’s students refer to UCL students as “Godless Scum of Gower Street,” while UCL students refer to their opposition as “Strand Polytechnic.” It’s pretty interesting to know about the case.

Similar to college, the rivalry is also old. In 1990, a small statue of King’s mascot went missing, and later they recovered it from a field. It was believed that some dumped it into the field. The restoration cost around £15,000 at that time.

King’s students believed that UCL students had stolen their King’s mascot and dumped it into the field. That started a rivalry, and it’s continued to date. Currently, the head is stored in the UCL vaults, and you can see the rivalry in the eyes of students of both colleges.

You can notice the sense of competition when students of both colleges stand against each other in any sporting competition. If you are playing, you will feel the pressure of winning, and it teaches you to perform well under pressure.


Not only in academics and sports, but UCL has also successfully established its name in research, mostly in the medical field. They have received many awards and recognitions for the same. Some of the famous research was in Clinical Medicine, Immunology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, Pharmacology & Toxicology, Psychiatry & Psychology, and Social Sciences. Including various other researches in many general sectors.

They have achieved a few benchmarks in the field that set them apart from other colleges.

  1. The university has ranked 12th in the world and first in Europe for research outputs.
  2. It is the 13th most cited university globally and the first in Europe.
  3. From Jan 1998 to April 2008, around 46,166 UCL research papers attracted 803,566 citations.

University College London is the best if you are in the medical field and looking for practical research exposure. They follow strict academics that teach you about the theoretical base while giving you practical exposure required in the real world.

UCL Museums and collections

University College London is among the oldest universities on Earth that include a deep history, rare manuscripts, books, and culturally significant work. You can find books, personal papers, materials, and literature from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries displayed in the various glass cabinets and cloisters of the main building.

Some of the most significant works in the UCL include the first editions of Issacs Newton’s Principia and “The crafte to lyue well and to dye well,” a book printed in 1505. The university is also accountable for museums and collections across medicine and sciences.

Some of the museums under UCL include

  • Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
  • UCL Art Museum
  • Flaxman Gallery
  • Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy
  • Geology Collections
  • Ethnography Collections
  • Science Collections

University College London is the best place to explore if you are interested in medicine, science, and research work. The university will be 200 years old in 2026, and during this time, it has produced successful scholars, including Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, etc.

There is a lot to learn about these personalities, and even you can find papers written by sir Isaac newton himself.

University College London Libraries

With one of the best faculties, museums, sports, and events, UCL also got some of the world’s best libraries. They have over 2 million books in 17 libraries located across many sites within the main UCL campus and Bloomsbury. It’s a central networking system of libraries, and searching it is referred to as exploring.

Although there are many books in these libraries, you can easily find elaborated books on topics related to History, Public policies, humanities, and economics.

The central library is the biggest of all, while the second-largest library, the UCL Science Library, is located at DMS Watson Building on Malet Place. If anthropology, geography, management, engineering, life sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences interest you, it’s worth visiting.

They have various libraries located across the city, and each one is famous for different variety of books it holds. However, the deep history and ultimate collection of books will help you easily find the book you need.

If you are researching any topic, there is no better library place to look for resources. Undoubtedly, UCL is the most famous place for research in Europe because of its libraries and easy availability of required studies.

Rewards and reputation

The university provides various top-class services, and no doubt they have received many awards for the same. Not only domestic, but UCL is a renowned University worldwide, and some of the recent awards they received include.

1. QS World University Rankings – Recently, in 2022, UCL ranked 8th in the world and second in London because it provides 38 subjects in the world’s top 100 worldwide.

2. Academic Ranking of World Universities – UCL has successfully claimed 16th position in this list for world universities in 2020.

3. Times Higher Education World University Rankings – Again, in 2021, UCL stood 16th position in this list and is said to be one of the top reputed universities in the world.

4. SCImago Institutions Rankings – The University stood 8th for the number and quality of publications produced worldwide.

These are just a few rewards to name, but students of UCL consistently perform well in various sectors and bring rewards to the university almost every year. With international prizes, the university also holds various national rewards that show the campus’s quality of education and life.


Most of you ask some similar questions about University College London. Here is a list of those questions with correct answers.

Is University College London a good college?

Indeed, it’s among the top colleges on the planet to continue your further studies. The university was established in 1826 and will soon complete its 200 years of service. They have received many awards in various fields that prove their excellence, exposure to the university, and teaching abilities.

Some of their famous Alumni include Mahatma Gandhi, Alexander Graham Bell, Christopher Nolan, etc.

Is it difficult to get admission to University College London?

Yes, it isn’t easy because thousands of students apply to study at the college, but only a few get through the stringent admission process and requirements. Also, it’s a reputed university with plenty of rewards, and that’s why they are very selective about admissions. As per reports, about 38% of students only get through the admission tests.

Is University College London Expensive?

The university is expensive and will cost you around £10,000 per year in tuition fees. With all expenses like accommodation, food, and other essentials, the overall cost would come to £75,000 for three years of an undergraduate degree. It’s expensive, and most students prefer taking loans to cover their education costs.

Is it a prestigious University?

Of course, University College London is a prestigious university that ranked 17th on the 2021 World Reputation Rankings list. It’s among the best universities to study in London.

Is King’s college better than UCL?

According to the times, UCL ranked 3rd in the list of reputed universities while King’s college ranked 9th in the same list. We can say that currently, UCL is better than King’s college in reputation. Still, you need to compare the available courses, exposure, fees, placements, and other things before being admitted to any college. Both colleges are good for studying but each other’s rivals.


University College London was founded in 1826 and is among the oldest universities worldwide. The college is famous for medical and scientific studies. They have received various awards and rankings for the same.

With studies, the university also exposes you to co-curricular activities for overall development like sports, campaigns, unions, etc. They got the best libraries, museums, and research centres. UCL is among the top-rated universities globally with extremely famous alumni, including Alexandra Graham Bell, Mahatma Gandhi, etc.

There are various plus points, but the university is not free from problems. Like they are often in light for

  • Poor and unhealthy living conditions are provided to the students.
  • Higher fees and students have protested for the same in the past.
  • They are very selective about admissions.

Despite challenges, the university holds its reputation globally and is still among the best places to receive further education.

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