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The University of Chester is a university based in the city of Chestermarker in the United Kingdommarker. The university, based on a main campus in Chester and a smaller campus in Warringtonmarker, offers a range of foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as undertaking academic research.


The University was founded as Chester Diocesan Training College in 1839 by a group of local leading figures in the Church of England, including future Prime Ministers William Ewart Gladstone and Lord Derby. It was the UK's first purpose-built teacher training college, which makes it one of the oldest higher education institutions in the country. Its first intake consisted of forty male student teachers. In 1842, Gladstone opened the College's original buildings just outside the city walls on the Parkgate Road site the University occupies today.

In 1910, Chester began its association with the University of Liverpoolmarker and in 1930 formally became an affiliated college of the university. Thus, 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. From then on, the College continued to grow steadily. By the 1960s, the situation had turned around completely and, as the UK was massively expanding its higher education capacity in reaction to the Robbins Report, the college was touted as a possible candidate for university status. These proposals, however, weren't followed through.

Nevertheless, the College continued to expand. Women were first admitted in 1962 and the college's name was changed to Chester College of Education in 1963. In 1974, the number of courses was expanded beyond teaching 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 in the 90's also. The college also began to offer a Bachelor of Theology degree, HND and more postgraduate courses, such as master's degrees and PhD. It also embarking on a £10,000,000 campus improvement programme. By 1995, Chester had earned the right to call itself University College Chester. 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.

The College expanded in 2002 through the acquisition of the higher education faculty and campus of Warrington Collegiate Institute. The further and adult education campuses of Warrington remained independent and are now known as Warrington Collegiate.

In 2003 Chester was granted its own degree-awarding powers, allowing it to be known as University College Chester once again.

In 2005, University College Chester was awarded full university status and became the University of Chester. This was followed by the right to award its own research degrees in 2007.


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

The University of Chester is a medium-sized institution with two campuses. The main campus is located on Parkgate Road, just north of the city walls. It houses most of the University's academic and non-academic departments. The campus has a mixture of Victorian buildings (such as Old College, right, which includes a chapel) and modern buildings (like the Binks Building, opened in 2003). The campus also features a fitness centre, swimming pool, bar and various shops.

The University has now outgrown the main campus site and some departments have moved off-site to locations within walking distance of the main campus. The Department of English, for example, is located in a Grade II-listed former Victorian vicarage, while the Department of History is split across the Grade II-listed eighteenth-century Blue Coat School and the Cheshire Military Museum in Chester Castlemarker, which is open to the public. Chester Business School is housed the more contemporary buildings of the former Plantation Inn hotel.

The University-owned student accommodation is primarily reserved for first year and foreign students. This consists of halls of residence, a student village on campus and houses just off campus.

The smaller Warrington campus, which was constructed as a camp for Canadianmarker officers in World War II, is located in the Padgatemarker area of Warringtonmarker. This campus includes the North West Media Centre, which has close ties to Granada Television.

The University also has a number of smaller bases, for example, at hospitals for nursing students dotted around Cheshiremarker and The Wirralmarker.

Proposed expansion

The University is currently in the process of two major expansions to its main campus. It is currently in the process of purchasing Cheshire County Hall, which is located in thecity centre, for use by the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services and the Faculty of Health and Social Care, catering for up to 1,300 students. If the sale goes ahead, it will cost £29 million, with a refurbishment cost of £2 million, and due to open in 2011. The University is also planning to build 1,000 new student bedrooms in a student village on a field located next to the existing campus at a cost of around £30 million, which is due to open in 2012


The University is organised into eight faculties of study. Five of these are also subdivided into academic departments. The Faculties and departments are:

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

Students and staff

Most of Chester's 15,000 students are from the UK, with a quarter being mature students. There are twice as many female students as male (partially due to the number of nursing, midwifery and teaching students). The small number of foreign students are mainly participants in the university's active exchange policy. There are approximately 1500 members of staff 569 of whom are academic. Many of them take part in research and often publish their work through the institution's own publishing house, Chester Academic Press.

Dr Peter Blair and Dr 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. Contributors include: Ama Ata Aidoo, Roberta Allen, Beryl Bainbridge, Elleke Boehmer, Dave Eggers, David Gaffney, Rodge Glass, Michael Cawood Green, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Liesl Jobson, James Kelman, J. Robert Lennon, Kobus Moolman, Ewan Morrison, Dan Rhodes, Matt Thorne, Alan Wall, and Gee Williams.

Chester Students' Union

Chester Students' Union (CSU) offers services and provides facilities for students. The union is a member of the NUS. Three sabbatical officers are elected each year: the president; the vice-president for the main campus; and the vice-president for the Warrington campus. Sabbatical officers serve a maximum of two years. The Executive Committee are the trustees of the union. They are elected each year before the end of March and each member has a different role, such as entertainments representative, welfare and campaigns representative, publications representative and so on. The support staff for union operations 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 two bars (CH1 on the main campus and Padgates on the Warrington campus) as well as a food shope a clothing shop on the main campus and a comprehensive vending area on the Warrington campus. The union also runs over 75 sports clubs and societies; with each campus having its own teams, many of which compete in BUCS competitions. Once a year, the union runs an inter-campus competition known as Varsity on the Warrington campus where sporting societies, such as seven-a-side football, and non-sporting societies, such as poker, compete. Other non-sporting societies include the Drama society, the Amnesty International Society and the People and Planet Society. A student radio station, The Cat 125.1, is based on the Warrington campus and broadcasts every day of the year, with presenters on air from September until June.


The University of Chester generally enjoys a good reputation, although it has slipped in The Times Good University Guide this year. and has come under fire from the local community recently due to the controversial purchase of Cheshire County Hall. The University's Geography and Development Studies degrees achieved 100% in the National Student Survey and the University has been described as 'building up a solid reputation in a number of subjects beyond education' by The Times. It is ranked as 7th best university in North West England.

Coat of arms

The University's coat of arms was granted by the College of Armsmarker 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 Cheshiremarker. 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", which is taken from Saint Paul's epistle to the Romans and translates as "he that teacheth, on teaching" or "let the teacher teach".

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. A simplified coat of arms was used as a logo again since 2002 and the university's current logo, introduced in 2005, features the shield, the crest and the scroll.

Notable alumni

Notable staff


  1. University of Chester: Annual Report 2003 - 04
  2. University of Chester: News and Events
  3. University of Chester: News and Events
  4. Statuette of W. E. Gladstone
  5. History of the affiliated education colleges - TEACHING QUALITY SUPPORT DIVISION - University of Liverpool
  6. Twentieth century Chester 1914-2000 - The economy, 1918-39 | British History Online
  7. Chester, University of - A-Z Unis & Colleges , Getting Into University - The Independent
  8. The Cestrian, 2008
  9. Accessed 28 August 09
  10. Accessed 28 August 09
  11. Accessed 28 August 09
  12. University of Chester: Departments
  13. "Flash Fiction Magazine" Accessed 18th September 2009
  14. Chester Students' Union. Official website. Retrieval Date: December 31, 2007.
  15. The Times Good University Guide. Accessed 28 August 09
  16. Chester Chronicle Accessed 28 August 09
  18. Times Top Universities in the North West Accessed 28 August 09
  19. A Cheshire Armorial - The Arms of The University of Chester
  20. Alumni - Alumni Stories
  21. Jim Bowen, From a Bundle of Rags: The Autobiography of Jim Bowen (London: Robson Books, 1992)
  22. Student News, Summer 2008 - Chester Chronicle
  23. About Alwyn - The Science of Total Training
  24. Voice from heaven, family from hell ... The dangerous world that singer Duffy left behind | Mail Online
  26. Obituary: Sir Walter Winterbottom | Football | The Guardian
  27. The Cestrian, 2009
  28. The Collegian, 1999
  30. University of Chester: Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences
  31. University of Chester: Department of Theology and Religious Studies
  32. University of Chester: Department of English
  33. University of Chester: Department of History and Archaeology

Further reading

  • Astbury, Stanley, A History of Chester Diocesan Training College (Chester: Chester College, 1946)
  • Bradbury, John Lewis, Chester College and the Training of Teachers, 1839-1975 (Chester: Chester College, 1975)
  • Dunn, Ian, The University of Chester, 1839-2005: The Bright Star in the Present Prospect (Chester: Chester Academic Press, 2005)
  • 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)

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