The Birth of Innovation

Following the Second World War, the future of further and higher education became an important concern of the British government. The government faced immense problems as it tried to cope with the demands of an expanding population and the advent of a new technological age. After the war, there were only nine universities and less than 1000 full time students in the country. Between 1958 and 1961, this balance was readdressed as 7 new universities were announced; one of these was the University of Lancaster.

In the 1960s, the North-West had more than 7 million inhabitants so it is easy to see why a third university was proposed for the region. The first Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University, Charles Carter made a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment about why the university was built, when he stated that the people in London wanted a new university in this area in order to “civilize the North.”

Watch the first Vice Chancellor Charles Carter discussing the motivations behind the construction of the university on YouTube

In addition to Lancasterís bid, other towns such as Morecambe and Blackpool displayed an interest in the new university. However, Lancaster was thought to be a peaceful area for study, with a rich cultural heritage and plenty of facilities for potential students and members of staff.

Lancaster was one of the last of ‘new’ universities to be authorized by the government. Princess Alexandra became the Chancellor of the University and was inaugurated in 1964.

Watch Princess Alexandra’s inauguration on YouTube

The ceremony also saw the granting of various honorary degrees to amongst others, the new Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Wilson delivered his speech only a short time after his election win with the Labour party.

Watch Harold Wilson’s Acceptance Speech on YouTube

The University accepted its first students in October 1964 and there were initially 13 professors, 32 additional members of teaching and research staff, 8 library staff and 14 administrators on academic grades.
The motto adopted by the new university “Patet omnibus veritas” which means ‘Truth Lies Open to All’ reflecting the hope that the expansion of higher education would lead to the extension of education to all. The colours of the university are red and Quaker grey, the latter reflecting the strong Quaker presence in the town and region.

Collegiate system

This was, and remains, a defining feature of the university.

Early Years

Initially various buildings in the centre of Lancaster were used to temporarily house the new university, while construction of new buildings on Bailrigg itself was undertaken..

Lancaster University
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