University of Chester
Former names
  • Chester Diocesan Training College (1839–1963)
    Chester College of Education (1963–1974)
    Chester College of Higher Education (1974–1996)
    University College Chester (1996–1999)
    Chester, a College of the University of Liverpool (1999–2003)
    University College Chester (2003–2005)
MottoLatin: Qui docet in doctrina
Motto in English
"He that teacheth, on teaching"
Established1839; 185 years ago (1839) (gained university status in 2005)
Endowment£395,000 (2018)[1]
Budget£118.3 million[2]
ChancellorGyles Brandreth
Vice-ChancellorEunice Simmons[3]
Academic staff
Administrative staff
53°12′01″N 2°53′53″W / 53.200326°N 2.898073°W / 53.200326; -2.898073
Cathedrals Group
Universities UK

The University of Chester is a public university located in Chester, England. The university originated as the first purpose-built teacher training college in the UK. As a university, it now occupies five campus sites in and around Chester, one in Warrington, and a University Centre in Shrewsbury. It offers a range of foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as undertaking academic research.

The university is a member of AACSB, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Cathedrals Group, the North West Universities Association and Universities UK. It holds an overall Silver Award in the 2023 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).[7]

A 2021 article in Times Higher Education described the University of Chester as being the fifth-oldest higher education establishment in England, with only the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and London predating it.[8] This claim appears to be based on the University of Chester's antecedent (non-university) body, the Chester Diocesan Training College, founded in 1839; however, on this basis, many other English universities appear older. These include Newcastle University (1834); University of Manchester (1824), University of Westminster (1838); and the Universities of Bath, Bristol and the West of England, which can all trace their origins to the Merchant Venturers' Technical College, founded as a school in 1595 by the Society of Merchant Venturers. Other universities that also have seemingly older origins include University of Central Lancashire (1828) and University of Huddersfield (1825).


1839 to 2000

The original College building (still in use and now known as Old College) in 1843, a year after it opened

The university was founded as Chester Diocesan Training College in 1839 by a distinguished group of local leading figures in the Church of England, including future Prime Ministers William Ewart Gladstone and the 14th Earl of Derby.[9] It was the UK's first purpose-built teacher training college,[10] which makes it one of the longest established higher education institutions in the country.[10] In 1842, Gladstone opened the college's original buildings for its first intake of ten male student teachers on the Parkgate Road site, (just outside the City Walls), that the university occupies today.[11]

In 1921, Chester formally became an affiliated college of the University of Liverpool,[9] which meant that the University of Liverpool awarded Chester's qualifications and Chester's students were able to use Liverpool's facilities.

The institution was threatened with closure in the 1930s, but its future was secured by the Bishop of Chester in 1933.[12] From then on, the college continued to grow steadily. By the 1960s, as the UK was massively expanding its higher education capacity in reaction to the Robbins Report, the college was considered as a possible candidate for university status. These proposals, however, were not followed through.

The college continued to expand and women were first admitted in 1961. In 1963, the government renamed teacher training colleges to colleges of education, so Chester's name became Chester College of Education. In 1974, the number of courses was expanded beyond teacher education to include Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. To reflect its wider remit, the college was renamed Chester College of Higher Education.

In the early 1990s the School of Nursing and Midwifery (now the Faculty of Health and Social Care) was established.[9] The college also began to offer a Bachelor of Theology degree, HNDs and more postgraduate courses, such as master's degrees and PhDs.[9] It also embarked on a £10 million campus improvement programme. By 1996, Chester had earned the right to call itself University College Chester.[13][14] This name, however, was short-lived as the government changed the requirements for university colleges in 1999 to include only those that had their own degree-awarding powers. Thus, Chester had to drop the 'University College' tag and reverted to the title Chester College of Higher Education, though the more descriptive Chester, a College of the University of Liverpool was frequently used in publicity material.[10]

2000 to present

Parkgate Road Campus

The college expanded in 2002 through the acquisition of the higher education faculty and campus of Warrington Collegiate Institute.[9] (The further and adult education campuses of Warrington remained independent and was known as Warrington Collegiate, until in August 2017, when it merged with Mid Cheshire College.))

In 2003 Chester was granted its own degree-awarding powers, allowing it to be known as University College Chester once again.[10] Due to its long (and well-advertised) association with the University of Liverpool, Chester continued to award Liverpool degrees until the 2005 intake of students.[15]

In 2005, University College Chester was awarded full university status and became the University of Chester.[16] This was followed by the right to award its own research degrees in 2007, ending Chester's last validation arrangement with Liverpool.

Following the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, some of the university's research was declared to be of international quality, with a proportion of 'World Leading' research in History (15% of submitted research), English, Sports Studies, and Drama (each 5% of submitted research).[17][18][19]

In 2010, the Centre for Work Related Studies (CWRS) received a commendation by the UK quality body, for its radically flexible and high quality negotiated work based learning framework - enabling professionals to customise their own qualifications, 'learn through work', and enable rapid accreditation of commercial training provision. At the same time, the funding body showcased CWRS's flexible approach to accrediting workplace learning.[20][21]


University of Chester, Marriss House (at left)

The university has expanded in recent years, buying buildings in Chester and constructing student accommodation at Parkgate Road Campus in 2013.[22]

In 2013 the university took over the Shell Technology Centre at Thornton-le-Moors from Shell UK, former owners of the adjacent Stanlow Oil Refinery. The Thornton Science Park, as it was renamed, was opened in 2014 by George Osborne, then the Chancellor of the Exchequer.[23] The Science Park was used for a variety of science and engineering-based courses. However, following guidance from the Health and Safety Executive, in 2018 the local authority Cheshire West and Chester Council refused a retrospective planning application for continued use for educational purposes on safety grounds, due to the proximity to the refinery.[24]

In 2014, Loyd Grossman, who holds an honorary degree from the university, officially opened the North West Food Research Development (NoWFOOD) Centre.


The University of Chester has six campuses and a University Centre in Shrewsbury. The 32-acre (130,000 m2) Parkgate Road Campus, Chester,[16] is located on Parkgate Road, just north of the City Walls. It has a mixture of Victorian buildings (such as Old College, which includes a chapel built by some of the original students in the 1840s) and modern buildings (such as the Students' Union). The Parkgate Road Campus also features a fitness centre, sports hall, swimming pool, science and language laboratories and bar.

University of Chester Riverside Campus.

Some departments are housed offsite at locations within walking distance of the main campus, for example, the Department of English is located in a Grade II-listed former Victorian vicarage, while the Law School is based at 67 Liverpool Road. The former County Hall, which is located in the city centre near the racecourse, houses the Faculty of Education and Children's Services and the Faculty of Health and Social Care and is known as the Riverside Campus. The university has also developed the Kingsway Campus in Newton with the addition of a three-storey teaching block, ground floor exhibition space and art gallery, learning resource centre and changing rooms. The site features a number of green innovations, such as ground source heating.

The university acquired a former Lloyds Bank corporate headquarters in Queen's Park, Handbridge, Chester in 2015. This houses the Faculty of Business and Management and the Chester Business School. The university has modernised the facilities in Bridge House and Churchill House to cater for 2,700 students.

In the autumn of 2015, the university opened a sister institution in the Guildhall and Rowley's House, Shrewsbury, Shropshire as part of a joint venture with Shropshire Council to establish University Centre Shrewsbury.

The university-owned student accommodation is primarily reserved for first year and overseas students. This consists of halls of residence and houses nearby.

The smaller Warrington campus originally hosted a camp for Canadian officers in World War II and is located in the Padgate area of Warrington. This campus includes the North West Media Centre, which has close ties to Granada Television, The Warrington School of Management, Social Sciences and Health and Social Care.[25] The Warrington Campus is also the training ground for the rugby league team The Warrington Wolves, and Warrington town was the host for the Rugby League World Cup 2013, with the Campus hosting the Samoan players. In 2022 two new buildings, Time Square and Remond House, were opened in Warrington Town Centre.[26]

The university also has a number of bases at NHS sites across Cheshire and the Wirral, and opened University Centre Birkenhead in September 2018.[27]

Organisation and structure

The university is organised into seven faculties of study. Several of these are subdivided into academic departments.[28] The faculties and departments are:

Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Chester Business School
Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Education and Children's Services
Faculty of Health and Social Care

In addition, a number of research centres operate alongside the departments.

From 2015 to 2020 the University of Chester provides validation for PhD programmes offered by Glyndŵr University.[citation needed]

Coat of arms

Shield of the University of Chester

The university's coat of arms was granted by the College of Arms in 1954. The arms, pictured above, are made up of an argent shield featuring the St George's cross on which there is a golden wheatsheaf, representing the Earldom of Cheshire. In the first quarter of the shield is a clasped open book, symbolising learning. The crest features a mitre, signifying the institution's founding by the Church of England, in front of two crossed swords, which are taken from the County of Cheshire's coat of arms. The golden scroll contains the Latin motto, "qui docet in doctrina", an extract from Saint Paul's epistle to the Romans and translates as "he that teacheth, on teaching" or "let the teacher teach".[29]

The coat of arms was used as the college's logo until the early 1990s when a new logo, with a depiction of the Old College building, was introduced. The coat of arms returned to the college's logo in 2002 when a simplified version became part of the logo. The university's current logo, introduced in 2005, features the shield and scroll from the coat of arms.

From 2015, as part of the 175th-anniversary celebrations, the university's coat of arms was changed to include supporting griffins on either side – one in gold, and one in black reach referencing one of the institution's founders. The gold griffin of Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby bears the University Mace. The Black griffin of William Gladstone bears a sword. Each gorged with a collar of university colours red and white.

Academic profile

The University of Chester holds its annual graduation ceremony in Chester Cathedral, presided over by the Chancellor Gyles Brandreth

There are approximately 1,737 administrative and academic members of staff. Many take part in research and often publish their work through the institution's own publishing house, the University of Chester Press. The 2014 Research Assessment Exercise resulted in Chester's research being declared world-leading in 14 areas of that submitted.[citation needed]

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was, in 2011, bestowed a visiting professorship with the title Gladstone Professor of Literature and Theology. His inaugural lecture 'The Messiah and the novelist: approaches to Jesus in fiction' took place in Chester Cathedral.

Peter Blair and Ashley Chantler edit "Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine", a major literary periodical, which publishes stories and reviews of up to 360 words by writers from around the world.[30]

At the beginning of April 2021, the university announced its intention to make up to 86 compulsory redundancies across staff in the Humanities department.[31] The University and College Union has strongly condemned these plans,[32] and student protests in opposition to the measures have taken place throughout the city.[33][34][35]

Reputation and rankings

National rankings
Complete (2025)[36]59
Guardian (2024)[37]53
Times / Sunday Times (2024)[38]100
Global rankings
THE (2024)[39]1201–1500

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) 2010 audit praised the university for its good practice in ensuring standards and enhancing the quality of learning opportunities, the supportive relationships that underpin the learning and working in the institution and the strength of its partnership work.[40]

The Faculty of Education and Children's Services also celebrated an 'outstanding' outcome in its recent Ofsted inspection of Initial Teacher Training.[41]

Student life

Chester Students' Union (CSU) offers services and provides facilities for students and is a member of the NUS. Four sabbatical officers are elected each year and serve a maximum of two years.

Bluecoat School, Chester.

The executive committee are the trustees of the Union. Members are elected each year before the end of March, with a president and vice-president, and each with a different role, such as Education representative, Activities representative and a Warrington representative. The support staff for the Union consists of a number of full-time employees, part-time student staff and volunteers from the elected Executive Committee and the Union Council.

The Union runs a bar 'CH1' on the main Parkgate Road Campus, Chester. The previously known 'Padgate Union Bar' on the Warrington campus was, in August 2010, taken over by the university, and is now known as 'Bar and Club 2010'. The Union also has three shops. Two are on the Parkgate Road Campus, Chester, consisting of a general shop and a Starbucks Coffee franchise, and one at Warrington.

The Union also runs over 110 sports clubs and societies; with each campus having its own teams, many of which compete in British Universities and Colleges Sport competitions. Once a year, the Union runs an inter-campus competition known as Varsity on campus where sporting societies, such as seven-a-side football, and non-sporting societies, such as poker, compete. Non-sporting societies include the Debating Society (which has hosted hustings events which have featured on 'BBC North West Tonight'), the Politics Forum, the Drama Society, the Amnesty International Society, the International Development Society and the People and Planet Society. A student radio station, The Cat Radio, is based on the Warrington campus and broadcasts daily, with presenters on air from September until July.

Student body

Most of Chester's 14,900 students are from the United Kingdom.[5] A quarter of students are mature and there are twice as many female students as male (partially due to the number of nursing, midwifery and teaching students). The increasing number of foreign students are mainly participants in the university's active exchange policy.

Notable people

Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, served as the Foundation Chancellor of the University of Chester


Vice-chancellor/ Principals

Until university status was awarded in 2005, the Vice-Chancellor was known as the principal.


See also: Category:Academics of the University of Chester

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is a visiting professor at the University of Chester.


See also: Category:Alumni of the University of Chester

See also


  1. ^ "2018 Financial Statement". 4 July 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Financial Statements". University of Chester. 4 July 2018.
  3. ^ "New Vice-Chancellor appointed at University of Chester". University of Chester. 22 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Chester 2010/11". Higher Education Statistics Agency. Archived from the original (webpage) on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Where do HE students study?". Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  6. ^ Walsh, Angela. "The Image Makeover of Learning Resources at Chester College of Higher Education" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2008.
  7. ^ "Teaching Excellence Framework 2023 Outcomes". Office for Students. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  8. ^ "University of Chester". Times Higher Education (THE). 20 January 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Ian Dunn, The University of Chester, 1839–2008: The Bright Star in the Present Prospect, 2nd edn (Chester: Chester Academic Press, 2008)
  10. ^ a b c d "Our History". University of Chester. 9 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Statuette of W. E. Gladstone". Archived from the original on 19 October 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  12. ^ "Twentieth century Chester 1914-2000 - The economy, 1918–39 | British History Online". Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  13. ^ "Principal's Foreword/University College Chester". Archived from the original on 24 February 1998. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Chester College of Higher Education". Archived from the original on 15 August 2007.
  15. ^ "Reviews and reports". Archived from the original on 22 October 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  16. ^ a b "Chester, University of". The Independent. London. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  17. ^ "RAE 2008 : Quality profiles". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  18. ^ a b c The Cestrian, 2008
  19. ^ University of Chester Annual Review 2009
  20. ^ "Report on the University of Chester". Archived from the original on 28 June 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  21. ^ "HEFCE report".
  22. ^ Graeme J. White, On Chester On: A History of Chester College and the University of Chester, 2015
  23. ^ "- MP hails University of Chester's planned expansion". Chester First. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  24. ^ Dowling, Mark (11 June 2018). "University of Chester to appeal against council decision which puts Thornton Science Park future in doubt". Chester Standard. Retrieved 28 November 2023.
  25. ^ Elsie Newton, The Padgate Story, 1946–2006; University of Chester Annual Review 2009
  26. ^ "The Big Move". University of Chester. 22 July 2021. Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  27. ^ "University Centre Birkenhead". University of Chester. 13 August 2021. Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  28. ^ "University of Chester: Faculties". 26 October 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  29. ^ Martin Goldstraw (5 July 1954). "A Cheshire Armorial - The Arms of The University of Chester". Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  30. ^ "Flash Fiction Magazine". 24 April 2018.
  31. ^ "University of Chester announces up to 86 job losses". The Standard.
  32. ^ "The support for our opposition to compulsory redundancies that has poured in over the past week from academics, students, alumni, UCU branches, and the Chester community has been wonderful to see. Let's keep showing the university how unpopular and unfair their plans are!". UCU Chester.
  33. ^ "Students and staff at Chester University to protest against job cuts". Morning Star. 26 April 2021.
  34. ^ "University of Chester says redundancy process has been "transparent" after students stage protest". Chester Standard.
  35. ^ "Protests in Chester over plans to make university staff redundant". Cheshire Live. 26 April 2021.
  36. ^ "Complete University Guide 2025". The Complete University Guide. 14 May 2024.
  37. ^ "Guardian University Guide 2024". The Guardian. 9 September 2023.
  38. ^ "Good University Guide 2024". The Times. 15 September 2023.
  39. ^ "THE World University Rankings 2024". Times Higher Education. 28 September 2023.
  40. ^ [1] Archived 28 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ "Find an inspection report" (PDF). Ofsted. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 29 November 2011.[permanent dead link]
  42. ^ "William Crookes". Archived from the original on 25 November 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  43. ^ "Ceremony One: Professor Anthony Thiselton". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  44. ^ Jim Bowen, From a Bundle of Rags: The Autobiography of Jim Bowen (London: Robson Books, 1992)
  45. ^ a b c "Student News, Summer 2008 - Chester Chronicle". Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  46. ^ "Chart-topper Duffy worked and studied in Chester". CheshireLive. 21 February 2008. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  47. ^ Green Templeton Manager. "Alan Emery". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  48. ^ a b "The Cestrian, 2006 edition". Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  49. ^ a b c "Alumni - Alumni Stories". Archived from the original on 1 January 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  50. ^ "Lucy Letby: what has the court heard so far in trial of Hereford nurse?". Hereford Times. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  51. ^ a b Glanville, Brian (18 February 2002). "Sir Walter Winterbottom". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  52. ^ a b The Cestrian, 2009
  53. ^ "Nicola-Wilson-Team-GB". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 24 April 2012.
  54. ^ The Collegian, 1999

Further reading

  • White, Graeme J, On Chester On: A History of Chester College and the University of Chester (Chester: University of Chester Press, 2014) ISBN 978-1-908258-19-9
  • Dunn, Ian, The University of Chester, 1839–2008: The Bright Star in the Present Prospect 3rd edn (Chester: University of Chester Press, 2012)
  • Burek, Cynthia and Stilwell, Richard, Geodiversity Trail: Walking Through the Past on the University's Chester Campus (Chester: Chester Academic Press, 2007)
  • Newton, Elsie, The Padgate Story 1946–2006 (Chester: Chester Academic Press, 2007)
  • White, Graeme J (ed.), Perspectives of Chester College: 150th Anniversary Essays, 1839–1989 (Chester: Chester College, 1989)
  • Bradbury, John Lewis, Chester College and the Training of Teachers, 1839–1975 (Chester: Chester College, 1975)
  • Astbury, Stanley, A History of Chester Diocesan Training College (Chester: Chester College, 1946)