How the first university in Wales was born
As the first University College in Wales, Aberystwyth has a long and distinguished tradition of teaching and research. Its establishment in the 19th century is one of the great stories of pioneering achievement in modern Welsh history. It was founded on the principles not only of academic achievement but also of inclusion, of opening its doors to all irrespective of their background.
It was the work of a small group of patriots, led by Hugh Owen, a London Welshman, who sought from the 1850s onwards to raise enough money by public and private subscription to establish a college of university status in Wales. A project of enormous ambition, the University opened its doors in 1872, initially with a handful of teachers and just 26 students in what was then a half-finished hotel building - the Old College - on the seafront.
Since those early days, Aberystwyth University has gone from strength to strength and now has more than 8,000 students and 2,000 staff. As the institution grew, its main campus moved from Old College on the seafront to Penglais hill. This fine site, that includes a magnificent Arts Centre celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022, enjoys spectacular views over the historic market town of Aberystwyth and the Cardigan Bay coastline. New buildings, including major arts and science developments, halls of residence and first-rate sports facilities are located here.
The Old College remains an integral part of the University and its total refurbishment, along with the recently renewed and re-opened Pantycelyn residence, are physical signs of exciting renewal and development. These, along with the development of new programmes and research centres such as nursing, veterinary sciences and the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus are all signs of a university restless to embrace the next 150 years.