A brief history

Miss Finney research student early 20th centuryThe University grew out of the radical vision of our first Chancellor, Joseph Chamberlain. Founded in 1900, Birmingham represented a new model for higher education. This was England’s first civic university, where students from all religions and backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis.

Birmingham has continued to be a university unafraid to do things a little differently, and in response to the challenges of the day. It was a founder member of the National Union of Students and the first university in the country to:

  • be built on a campus model
  • establish a faculty of commerce
  • incorporate a medical school
  • offer degrees in dentistry
  • create a women’s hall of residence
  • have a purpose-built students’ union building

The University of Birmingham was established by Queen Victoria by Royal Charter in 1900 and was the UK’s first civic or 'redbrick' university. The first phase of building work on the campus was completed in 1909 under the auspices of the esteemed architect Sir Aston Webb. We celebrated the centenary of those buildings in July 2009.