Cardiff University
Welsh: Prifysgol Caerdydd
Coat of arms of Cardiff University
Former names
  • University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (1893–1972)
  • University College, Cardiff (1972–1988)
  • University of Wales College, Cardiff (1988–1996)
  • University of Wales, Cardiff (1996–2005)
MottoWelsh: Gwirionedd, Undod a Chytgord[1]
Motto in English
Truth, Unity and Concord[1]
  • 1883 (college)
  • 2005 (independent university status)
Endowment£46.2 million (2023)[2]
Budget£627.2 million (2022/23)[2]
ChancellorJenny Randerson[3]
Vice-ChancellorWendy Larner
Academic staff
3,400 (2021/22)[4]
Administrative staff
3,535 (2021/22)[4]
Students33,985 (2021/22)[5]
Undergraduates23,765 (2021/22)[5]
Postgraduates10,220 (2021/22)[5]
51°29′N 3°11′W / 51.49°N 3.18°W / 51.49; -3.18
Affiliations Edit this at Wikidata

Cardiff University (Welsh: Prifysgol Caerdydd) is a public research university in Cardiff, Wales. It was established in 1883 as the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire and became a founding college of the University of Wales in 1893. It was renamed University College, Cardiff in 1972 and merged with the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology in 1988 to become University of Wales College, Cardiff and then University of Wales, Cardiff in 1996. In 1997 it received degree-awarding powers, but held them in abeyance. It adopted the operating name of Cardiff University in 1999; this became its legal name in 2005, when it became an independent university awarding its own degrees.

Cardiff University is the only Welsh member of the Russell Group of research-intensive British universities.[6] Academics and alumni of the university have included two heads of state or government and two Nobel laureates. As of 2023, the university's academics include 17 fellows of the Royal Society, 11 fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering, seven fellows of the British Academy, 21 fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences and 32 fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences.[7]


University college

Lord Aberdare was instrumental in the university's founding.

The foundation of the university college in Cardiff that was to become Cardiff University was part of the Welsh university movement of the second half of the 19th century, which also led to the foundation of the colleges at Aberystwyth and Bangor (now Aberystwyth and Bangor universities) and the federal University of Wales. The movement began at a meeting in London in 1854 called by Hugh Owen, including leaders of Welsh theological colleges and members of parliament. This meeting discussed establishing university colleges in Wales along the same lines as the Queen's Colleges established the previous decade in Ireland, and produced a formal proposal, the "Outline of Constitution for Proposed Welsh Queen's Colleges".[8]

Discussions on the founding of a university college in South Wales were revived in 1879, when a group of Welsh and English MPs urged the government to consider the poor provision of higher and intermediate education in Wales and "the best means of assisting any local effort which may be made for supplying such deficiency."[9]

In August 1880, William Ewart Gladstone's government appointed a departmental committee to conduct "an enquiry into the nature and extent of intermediate and higher education in Wales", chaired by Lord Aberdare and consisting of Viscount Emlyn, Reverend Prebendary H. G. Robinson, Henry Richard, John Rhys and Lewis Morris.[10] The Aberdare Report, as it came to be known, took evidence from a wide range of sources and over 250 witnesses and recommended a college each for North Wales and South Wales, the latter to be located in Glamorgan and the former to be the established University College of Wales in Aberystwyth (now Aberystwyth University). The committee cited the unique Welsh national identity and noted that many students in Wales could not afford to travel to University in England or Scotland. It advocated a national degree-awarding university for Wales, composed of regional colleges, which should be non-sectarian in nature and exclude the teaching of theology.[11][12]

John Viriamu Jones was the founding principal of the college.

After the recommendation was published, Cardiff Corporation sought to secure the location of the college in Cardiff, and on 12 December 1881 formed a University College Committee to aid the matter.[13] There was competition to be the site between Swansea and Cardiff. On 12 March 1883, after arbitration, a decision was made in Cardiff's favour.[13] This was strengthened by the need to consider the interests of Monmouthshire, at that time not legally incorporated into Wales, and the greater sum received by Cardiff in support of the college, through a public appeal that raised £37,000 and a number of private donations, notably from the Lord Bute and Lord Windsor.[14][15] In April Lord Aberdare was appointed as the college's first president.[13] The possible locations considered included Cardiff Arms Park, Cathedral Road, and Moira Terrace, Roath, before the site of the Old Royal Infirmary buildings on Newport Road was chosen.[13]

The University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire opened on 24 October 1883 with courses in biology, chemistry, English, French, German, Greek, history, Latin, mathematics and astronomy, music, Welsh, logic and philosophy, and physics. It was incorporated by royal charter the following year; this was the first charter in Wales to allow the enrolment of women and to specifically forbid religious tests for entry.[15] John Viriamu Jones was appointed as the college's first principal at the age of 27. As the college was not an independent university and could not award its own degrees, it prepared its students for examinations of the University of London or for further study at Oxford or Cambridge.[16]

In 1888 the university college at Cardiff and the University College of North Wales (now Bangor University) proposed to the University College Wales at Aberystwyth joint action to gain a university charter for Wales, modelled on that of the Victoria University, a federal university in northern England with colleges in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool. This led to a charter being granted to the University of Wales in 1893, with the colleges becoming members of the new university. The position of operational head would rotate among heads of the colleges.[15]

In 1885, Aberdare Hall opened as the first hall of residence, allowing women access to the college. This moved to its current site in 1895, but remains a single-sex hall. In 1904 the college appointed the first female associate professor in the UK, Millicent Mackenzie, who in 1910 became the first female full professor at a fully chartered UK university.

In 1901 John Viriamu Jones persuaded Cardiff Corporation to give the college a five-acre site in Cathays Park (instead of selling it as they would have done otherwise).[17] Soon after, in 1905, work on a new building commenced under the architect W. D. Caröe. Money ran short for the project, however,and although the side-wings were completed in the 1960s the planned great hall was never built. Caroe sought to combine the charm and elegance of his alma mater (Trinity College, Cambridge) with the picturesque balance of many Oxford colleges. On 14 October 1909 the "New College" building in Cathays Park (now Main Building) and the "Drapers' Library" (now the Science Library) was opened in a ceremony involving a procession from the "Old College" in Newport Road.[18]

In 1931, the medical school, founded as part of the college in 1893 along with the departments of anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology, was split off to form the Welsh National School of Medicine, renamed the University of Wales College of Medicine in 1984.

The University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire was renamed University College, Cardiff in 1972.[19]

1988 merger

In 1988, University College Cardiff ran into financial difficulties and a declaration of insolvency was considered.[20] This led to a merger with the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (UWIST) to form the University of Wales College of Cardiff. The principal of the new institution was Sir Aubrey Trotman-Dickenson, who had been the principal of UWIST. After changes to the constitution in 1996, its name was changed to the University of Wales, Cardiff.

In the early 1990s, the university's computer systems served as the home for The Internet Movie Database.[21]

Independence and 2004 merger

Queen Elizabeth II with Anthony J. Moses during her visit in Cardiff University in 2000

The college was granted degree-awarding powers by the Privy Council in 1997 although, as a member of the University of Wales, it did not use them at that time. In 1999, the public name of the university was changed to Cardiff University.

In 2002, ideas were floated to re-merge Cardiff with the University of Wales College of Medicine (UWCM), after the publication of the Welsh Assembly Government's review of higher education in Wales. This set in train a series of constitutional reforms. On 1 August 2004, Cardiff University ceased to be a member of the University of Wales and became an independent "link institution" affiliated to the federal university. The process of the merger with UWCM was completed on 1 December 2004, when the Act of Parliament transferring UWCM's assets to Cardiff University received royal assent. On 17 December it was announced that the Privy Council had given approval to a new supplemental charter for the keys institution. This was sealed on 11 March 2005, granting university status to Cardiff and legally changing the name of the institution to Cardiff University.[22] Cardiff awarded University of Wales degrees to students admitted before 2005, but has subsequently awarded its own degrees.[23]

A Cardiff University graduation ceremony in 2006

In 2005, Wales College of Medicine, as part of the university, launched the North Wales Clinical School in Wrexham, in collaboration with the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education in Wrexham, the University of Wales, Bangor, and the National Health Service in Wales. This received funds of £12.5 million from the Welsh Assembly[24] and trebled the number of trainee doctors in clinical training in Wales over a four-year period.

The university also has a Centre for Lifelong Learning, which has been teaching a wide range of courses for over 125 years.[25] However, in July 2009, the university announced it was ending over 250 humanities courses at the centre, making over 100 staff redundant. The university has since reintroduced a number of humanities courses for a trial period beginning in 2010.[26]

In June 2010, the university launched three new research institutes,[27] each offering a new approach to a major modern research issue. The Neurosciences and Mental Health Research Institute and the Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute are housed in the purpose-built Hadyn Ellis Building and in the Sustainable Places Research Institute. Another part of the Science and Development Campus, the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), opened in June 2016 for neuroimaging research.[28]

Workload controversy

On 19 February 2018, Malcolm Anderson, a university lecturer committed suicide at age 48 by jumping off a university building.[29][30][31][32][33] The inquiry determined that Anderson's suicide was the result of a high-pressure workload.[31][32]

In 2020, Grace Krause, a PhD student employed at Cardiff University started experiencing headaches and back pain after lengthy work at a computer.[32][34] She tweeted that "Staff are marking hundreds of essays in an impossibly short time. It is exhausting. Everyone is in crisis mode. Stressed, moody, morose, everyone feels like they’re drowning."[32] Soon after, an email from the university was sent to all PhD students asking for these comments to be deleted, in order to avoid negative media attention, which sparked a debate about freedom of speech between employers and employees.[32]

Vice chancellors and principals

List of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of Cardiff University and its predecessors (shown in brackets):


Academic facilities

The main reading room of the Science Library, pictured in 2017

The university's academic facilities are centred around Cathays Park in central Cardiff,[35] which contains the university's grade II* listed main building,[36] housing administrative facilities and the science library, previously called the Drapers' library;[37][38] the grade II listed Bute building,[39] which contains the Welsh School of Architecture,[40] the grade I listed Glamorgan building,[41] which houses the Cardiff Schools of Planning and Geography and Social Sciences,[42] the Redwood Building (named in 1979 after the Redwood Family of Boverton near Llantwit Major by a 1978 suggestion by J. D. R. Thomas), which houses the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences;[43] the law building which houses the Cardiff Law School;[44] and the biosciences building, which provides facilities for both biosciences and medical teaching.[45] The School of Engineering and School of Physics and Astronomy are located in the Queen's Buildings, off Newport Road, the Schools of Computer Science of Informatics and Mathematics at the Abacws Building,[46] and the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at 2 Central Square.

A number of university academic facilities are located at the Heath Park campus, based at the University Hospital of Wales. This covers the Cardiff University School of Medicine, the School of Dentistry, the School of Healthcare Sciences, and the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences.[47]

Buildings of Cardiff University

Athletics facilities

Most of the university's sports facilities are located at the sports training village in the Talybont Halls complex. This includes facilities for football, badminton, basketball, tennis, hockey and gym.[48] Additional gym facilities and squash courts are located at the university fitness and squash centre, near the city centre campus at Cathays Park.[49] Extensive playing fields for Rugby, football and lacrosse are located at the university playing fields near Llanrumney.[50] The university also utilises the nearby Millennium Stadium for rugby fixtures such as the annual varsity tournament.[51]


Schools and colleges

The 26 academic schools of the university are divided into three colleges: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Biomedical and Life Sciences; and Physical Sciences.[52]

Cardiff also has a Doctoral Academy,[53] that brings together the work of four previous discipline-based Graduate Schools and the postgraduate research activity of the university's Graduate Centre.


In the financial year ended 31 July 2022, the annual income of the institution was £627.6 million (£634.2 million for the group). The operating expenditure was £604.2 million (£606.5 million for the group), with a pensions provision of £118.8 million for a total expenditure of £725.3 million. The consolidated group income and expenditure includes University College Cardiff Consultants Limited and International Learning Exchange Programme Limited, but does not include the University Students’ Union or the Cardiff Partnership Fund Limited as Cardiff University's council does not control the financial and operating activities of those bodies.[54]

Key sources of income included £125.4 million from research grants and contracts, £98.9 million from Funding Council grants and £323.5 million from tuition fees and support grants. As of 31 July 2022, Cardiff had endowments of £45.6 million and total reserves of £648.7 million.[54]

Academic profile

Rankings and reputation

Glamorgan Building
National rankings
Complete (2025)[55]27
Guardian (2024)[56]29
Times / Sunday Times (2024)[57]25
Global rankings
ARWU (2023)[58]151–200
QS (2025)[59]186
THE (2024)[60]190
Cardiff University's national league table performance over the past ten years

Cardiff University is a highly renowned for several subjects in its department. Cardiff has produced two Nobel Laureates on its staff, Sir Martin Evans and Robert Huber.[61] A number of Cardiff University staff have been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society, these include Graham Hutchings FRS, professor of Physical Chemistry and Director of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, School of Chemistry,[62] Ole Holger Petersen, MRC Professor and Director of Cardiff School of Biosciences.[63] and John M. Pearce, Professor of Psychology.[64]

In 2013, Cardiff University was ranked as one of the best UK universities for supporting LGBT students, by the charity Stonewall in its annual Gay by Degree guide. The university was one of only two in the UK and the only one in Wales to achieve top marks in a Stonewall checklist of priorities for LGBT+ students.[65]

Cardiff University was ranked joint 168th in Best Global Universities by US News in 2021.[66] It was ranked 164th among universities around the world by SCImago Institutions Rankings in 2021.[67] The Round University Rankings ranked Cardiff University 162nd globally in 2021.[68] The Center for World University Rankings listed Cardiff University 159th in the world in 2021.[69]

According to QS World University Rankings by Subject in 2021, Cardiff University ranked within the world's top 50 universities in communication and media studies (28), in Architecture and Built environment (37) and Psychology (59).[70] Other subjects ranked within the top 100 are dentistry, and mineral and mining engineering (49) civil and structural engineering, geography, social policy and administration, pharmacy and pharmacology, English language and literature, and sociology.[70]


UCAS Admission Statistics
2023 2022 2021 2020 2019
Applications[α][71] 46,355 46,345 44,155 39,225 34,465
Accepted[α][71] 7,875 7,375 7,915 7,500 6,940
Applications/Accepted Ratio[α] 5.9 6.3 5.6 5.2 5.0
Offer Rate (%)[β][72] 70.9 68.2 70.3 73.4 72.5
Average Entry Tariff[73] 153 148 144
  1. ^ a b c Main scheme applications, International and UK
  2. ^ UK domiciled applicants
HESA Student Body Composition (2022)
Domicile[74] and Ethnicity[75] Total
British White 63% 63
British Ethnic Minorities[a] 15% 15
International EU 3% 3
International Non-EU 19% 19
Undergraduate Widening Participation Indicators[76][77]
Female 60% 60
Private School 14% 14
Low Participation Areas[b] 9% 9

According to the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, approximately 15 per cent of Cardiff's undergraduates come from independent schools.[78] In the 2016–2017 academic year, the university had a domicile breakdown of 76:5:19 of UK:EU:non-EU students respectively with a female to male ratio of 59:41.[79]

Student life

Student accommodation

The university maintains 15 student halls and a number of student houses throughout the city of Cardiff; providing a total of 5,362 student places in accommodation.[80] They are in a variety of architectural styles and ages, from the Gothic Aberdare Hall, built in 1895, to the modern Talybont Gate Building, completed in 2014. All first-year students are guaranteed a place in university owned and managed halls.[81] The Cardiff University Halls are:

Students' Union

The Cardiff University Students' Union is a student-run organisation aiming to promote student interests within the university and further afield. The Cardiff University Students' Union building is near Cathays Park, next to Cathays railway station. It has shops, a night club and the studios of Xpress Radio and Gair Rhydd, the student newspaper. It is democratically controlled by the student body through the election of seven full-time officers, who manage the running of the Union.[82] The Union provides a range of services, including a number of cafes, bars and shops, as well as advice, training and representation. The Union is an affiliated member of the National Union of Students.[83]

Groups and societies

The Union also supports over 260 other clubs and societies across a wide range of interests,[84] including: Cardiff University Debating Society,[85] and Act One, the student dramatic society.[86] All clubs offer opportunities for beginners and the more experienced students.


Nick Clegg at Cardiff University Students' Union conducting an interview with CUTV in 2010

The Union provides facilities and support for several student media groups, including: Gair Rhydd, an award-winning, free student newspaper that is released every Monday of term;[87] Quench, a monthly arts and lifestyle magazine that specialises in the local music scene as well as original investigative feature articles;[88] and CUTV, the student television channel.[89]

Xpress Radio is the student radio station.[90] It broadcasts daily during term from studios in the Students' Union building, with programming such as comedy panel shows, new music showcases, local music showcases, and film reviews.[91][92]


Swansea and Cardiff Universities Men's Senior eights during The Welsh Boat Race in 2006

The Cardiff University Athletic Union is the body that supports student sport at Cardiff, it oversees more than 60 competitive and non-competitive sports clubs, many of which compete in the British Universities and Colleges Sport league.[93] The university's Ice Hockey team, the Cardiff Redhawks (which also recruits players from other Welsh universities) competes in the British Universities Ice Hockey Association leagues.[94]

The university's sports teams also take part in the annual Welsh Varsity against Swansea University, which includes the Welsh Boat Race, and several other sporting competitions.[95] The Welsh Varsity rugby match has been described as "probably... the second biggest Varsity Game next to Oxford vs Cambridge".[96]

Cardiff participates in British Universities and Colleges Sport which manages a sporting framework of competitive fixtures and events for over 150 institutions around the UK. Cardiff registers nearly 100 teams in the various leagues and competitions each year and sees students travelling around the country to represent Cardiff University. In 2013 Cardiff team achieved 15th position overall across the 50 different sports hosting events.

Insignia and other representations


Cardiff University's motto is Gwirionedd, Undod a Chytgord. The Welsh motto translates as Truth, Unity and Concord or Truth, Unity and Harmony. It is taken from the prayer for the Church militant as it appears in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.[97]

Coat of arms

Cardiff University's current coat of arms was granted by the College of Arms in 1988 following the merger of University College Cardiff and the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology.[97] The coat of arms incorporates features from the heraldry of both former institutions. The three chevrons are derived from the arms of the de Clare lords of Glamorgan. The open book signifies learning; on it are the crescent and annulet, marks of cadence that indicate that University College Cardiff was the second of the University of Wales' institutions, and that the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology was the fifth.[98]

A notable feature of the arms are the supporters, which in heraldry are rarely granted to universities. The supporters are an angel from University College Cardiff and a Welsh Dragon from the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology. The crest is a Welsh dragon in the stance of a lion; it stands on the helmet. Both the dragon and the helmet are distinguished by being front-facing rather than in profile as is more usually found in Welsh heraldry.[98]

Notable alumni and academics

Main article: List of Cardiff University people

Heads of state and government


Roy Jenkins, former President of the European Commission
Neil Kinnock, former Leader of the Opposition, Vice President of the European Commission and President of Cardiff University


Martin Evans, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine
Robert Huber, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry




Arts and journalism

Huw Edwards, BAFTA award-winning journalist
Tim Hetherington, nominee of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2011

Law and Justice

See also


  1. ^ Includes those who indicate that they identify as Asian, Black, Mixed Heritage, Arab or any other ethnicity except White.
  2. ^ Calculated from the Polar4 measure, using Quintile1, in England and Wales. Calculated from the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) measure, using SIMD20, in Scotland.
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