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A brief history of UWE Bristol
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|University of the West of England|
|Coldharbour Lane, BS16 1QY Bristol|
(+44 or 0) 117 965 6261
A brief history of UWE Bristol
The University of the West of England represents a tradition of vocational education and training which can be traced back to 1595, when the Bristol Society of Merchant Venturers established a Navigation School which was one of England's first technical training institutions. The University was designated in 1992.
The Merchant Venturers maintained their institution from the 16th to the mid-20th century. In 1894 the former School became the Merchant Venturers' Technical College which occupied premises in Unity Street, Bristol. In turn the Merchant Venturers College provided the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Bristol, gave the City of Bath its technological university, and provided the nucleus of Bristol Polytechnic.
The College continued to expand and remained under the control of the Society of Merchant Venturers until in 1949 it was transferred to the Bristol City Education Authority. The College was then divided into the Bristol College of Commerce and the Bristol College of Technology. The College of Technology was transferred to the buildings and grounds of Muller's Orphanage at Ashley Down between 1953 and 1958, and the College of Commerce took over the Unity Street premises.
In 1960 the College of Technology was divided into two, the Bristol College of Science and Technology being created to provide courses at degree and higher levels, and the Bristol Technical College to provide non degree and technician level courses. Five years later the Bristol College of Science and Technology gained university status and began to move to Bath. By 1970 the Bristol Technical College had been further divided, its lower level courses being taken over by Brunel Technical College and the higher level courses being provided by Bristol Polytechnic. The former West of England College of Art was also incorporated within the Polytechnic, bringing with it a long tradition of excellence in the teaching of art and design dating back to 1852. In 1969 the College of Art occupied new purpose-built premises at Bower Ashton.
In the same year Bristol City Council decided to construct a purpose built campus for the Polytechnic at Coldharbour Lane, Frenchay. Following local government reorganisation in 1974, responsibility for the Polytechnic passed to the newly-formed Avon County Council. Between 1976 and 1978 the teacher training colleges of Redland and St Matthias were merged with the Polytechnic. The Polytechnic then had six major locations, at Ashley Down, Bower Ashton, Frenchay, Redland, St Matthias and Unity Street.
The 1970s and 1980s were years of growth for the Polytechnic, which by the mid-1980s had more than 10,000 students. In 1989 the Education Reform Act 1988 removed polytechnics from local authority control, reconstituting the Polytechnic as a Higher Education Corporation controlled by an independent Board of Governors. Bristol Polytechnic played a full part in the rapid expansion of higher education in the late 1980s, growing to almost 15,000 students by 1991/92. In 1993/94 it had more than 18,000 students.
Under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, the Polytechnic was enabled to adopt a University title and to award its own degrees. The Privy Council subsequently consented to the Board of Governors' proposal that the corporation be renamed University of the West of England, Bristol. The new name formally took effect on 5 October 1992.
In January 1996, the Avon and Gloucestershire College of Health and the Bath and Swindon College of Health Studies were incorporated into the University, taking the total student population to 22,000. Hartpury College in Gloucestershire became an Associate Faculty of UWE in 1997.
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