The University of Westminster was founded as Britain’s first polytechnic in 1838. Since then it has developed into a university that combines both metropolitan and cosmopolitan dimensions, and which is closely involved in business, professional and academic life within London, as well as overseas.

The University has always been, and continues to be, imaginative in recognizing new needs and developing appropriate offerings for its many target markets. The University also has a strong and historic commitment to promoting equality and embracing diversity. As a place to work or to study, we strive to strengthen our reputation as a welcoming and inclusive organization.

Our heritage

 The University of Westminster boasts a rich history and has been providing students with academic excellence, cultural engagement and personal enrichment since its inception as The Polytechnic Institution in 1838. Here you can find out a little bit more about our unique heritage, and the traditions of excellence that help to shape the University today.

A place for pioneers

The Westminster story began in 1838, when Sir George Cayley opened the Polytechnic Institution at 309 Regent Street in London. In 1881, philanthropist Quintin Hogg, bought the Royal Polytechnic Institution building and moved his Young Men’s Christian Institute into 309 Regent Street, which soon became the publicly funded Regent Street Polytechnic.

Since then, our education institution has secured a reputation as a place for firsts. These include:

  • the first polytechnic in the UK (1838)
  • the opening of the first public photographic portrait studio in Europe (1841)
  • the venue for the first public moving picture show in the UK, organized by the Lumiere brothers (1896)
  • organizing the first marathon race (at the London Olympics) over the now traditional distance of 26 miles, 385 yards (1908)
  • offering the first degree courses in Photographic Science, Photography, and Media Studies (1960s and 1970s)
  • the first modern university to win the Queen’s Award for Enterprise – International Trade
  • the UK’s first Partner University for UN Habitat, the agency which deals with human settlement and development.

The University of Westminster is a vibrant, international university in the heart of London. With a distinguished history since 1838, we are committed to shaping the future of professional life. Westminster offers an inspirational learning environment – fostering innovation and creativity, and continues to attract over 20,000 students from 169 nations, making us the most diverse university in the UK.

We offer over 300 foundation, Bachelors, Masters and research degrees across a wide range of disciplines. All our courses begin in September, but we also offer a number of postgraduate courses starting in January.