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Our strategy 2022-2032

Becoming UAL

Our origins

The origins of UAL lie in the 19th century with the foundation of the schools that became our 6 constituent Colleges: Camberwell College of Arts, Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Arts, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion and Wimbledon College of Arts. These schools educated young people to prepare them for a world transformed by technological change. Students learned new skills for growing industries, like architecture, communication, fashion, design and performance. And their work brought beauty into people’s everyday lives.

6 Colleges, 1 University

Each of our colleges were founded with a clear social purpose. They gave young people the opportunity to flourish in growing industries. And in their present form, they continue to do so to this day.

James Purnell President and Vice-Chancellor

One of the world's most international universities

Each of our Colleges remained at the forefront of creativity throughout the 20th century. They combined radical design and techniques with the teaching of practical skills. Students learned by doing. And in doing, their eyes were opened up to new ways of seeing. Our Colleges were, at all times, imbued with a sense of social purpose. Camberwell, for instance, was founded in 1898 to “give the best artistic and technical education to all classes in the district”. It was not atypical. It exemplified the spirit of those times.

In 1986, the 6 Colleges joined together as one. In 2003, they became a university: University of the Arts London (UAL). Today, UAL is one of the world’s most renowned institutions for creative education. Though much has changed since the 19th century, our social purpose, “to change society through our knowledge and creativity”, remains unchanged. We remain rooted in London’s heritage of vocational education. And we are developing into a global force for change, advancing the case for creativity at the regional, national and international level.

We have become one of the world's most international Universities, welcoming students from 130 countries. We have achieved this by adapting to the needs of new cohorts of students, while continuing to provide access to a high-quality creative education. And, as a global university, staff and students learn from different cultures and perspectives, which leads to new conversations and innovative work.

  • A purple, swirling 3D-rendered sculpture. Two purple, metallic hands at either side appear to make the object float in space.
    Kate Petersons, 2023 BA Design for Branded Spaces, London College of Communication, UAL
  • A person crouching wears a beige knitted piece with large buttons and long sleeves that cover their hands and rest on the floor.
    Hana Minowa, 2021 BA Fashion Design with Knitwear, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Four students sitting at a table smiling and laughing
    Students sitting in the college canteen, Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL | Photography: Alys Tomlinson
  • Multiple hand-drawn black arrows pointing in different directions, on a grey background.
    Research season 2022 campaign graphics, Brand and Creative Services, Communication and External Affairs, UAL