University of the Arts London Institutional Archive

Scope and Content

The UAL Institutional Archive spans the existence of The London Institute and the University of the Arts London from the mid-1980s until the present day. The collection focuses on the functions and operations of the University at an institutional level. The Archive was brought together as a result of the Institutional Memory Project, an initiative which ran between October 2015 and August 2016 in order to survey, assess and collect records that told the story of the establishment and development of the institution.

The archive holds material concerning: the formation and governance of The London Institute under the aegis of the Inner London Education Authority; the Institute's change to incorporated status; and the transfer to university status as the University of the Arts London. It also records details of school and college mergers, as well as institutional and academic developments.

The archive includes material that documents staff and student experience, including: marketing material, internal newsletters, student publications, course handbooks, prospectuses and research journals.

The UAL Institutional Archive also includes a large collection of estates plans which depict institutional holdings dating back to the early twentieth century. Around a hundred of these have been digitised and are accessible, however the majority are in need of extensive conservation treatment.

The collection of UAL's institutional memory ran parallel to an ongoing programme of oral history recordings to capture the memories and experiences of both key decision-makers and long-serving academic, technical and operational staff. These have also been catalogued as part of the UAL Archive.

Administrative / Biographical History

The University has its origins in seven previously independent art, design, fashion and media Colleges. These were brought together for administrative purposes by the Inner London Education Authority to form The London Institute in 1986. The original seven Colleges were: Saint Martin's School of Art, Chelsea School of Art, the London College of Printing, the Central School of Art and Design, Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, the College for Distributive Trades and the London College of Fashion. The Colleges were originally established from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century.

Upon its formation in 1986, Professor John McKenzie was appointed as The London Institute's first rector. Under the Education Reform Act 1988, The London Institute became a single legal entity, and the first court of governors was instated in 1989. It was incorporated as a higher education body in 1990 and was later granted academic degree awarding powers in 1993 by the Privy Council. Sir William Stubbs was appointed Rector in 1996 upon the retirement of Professor McKenzie. A coat of arms was granted to The London Institute in 1998.

On the retirement of Sir William Stubbs, Sir Michael Bichard was appointed as Rector in 2001 and encouraged The London Institute to apply for University status. The London Institute originally chose not to apply because its individual colleges were internationally recognised in their own right. In 2003 The London Institute received Privy Council approval for University status was renamed University of the Arts London in 2004.

Central and St Martin's merged in 1989 to form Central St Martin's, whilst in 1990 the London College of Printing merged with the College of Distributive Trades and was ultimately renamed the London College of Communication. Byam Shaw School of Art and Drama Centre London both merged with Central St Martins in the early 2000s, as did Cordwainers College with London College of Fashion.

Wimbledon School of Art joined the University as a sixth College in 2006. Nigel Carrington succeeded Sir Michael Bichard as Rector, and later Vice-Chancellor, in 2008.

The UAL Archive was initiated as part of the Institutional Memory Project which was run by the Archives and Special Collections Centre between October 2015 and August 2016 as a means of capturing, preserving and making accessible the University's official records and institutional memory to provide long-term value to researchers in the University and beyond. This was the first time that the University's official records had been surveyed, assessed and collected in a systematic way.

The UAL Archive is a continuous work in progress and will continue to grow organically with further acquisitions and accruals through the Institutional Memory Collection Policy in partnership with the University's records management protocols.


The Archive has been arranged by function and/or creating department. The catalogue has been constructed so that ongoing accruals can be added to existing series, or used to create new series, with minimal rearrangement. The oral history interviews have been collated into a separate series as they were created as a discrete project.

Conditions Governing Access

Archive Enquiries Email Address

UAL Institutional Archive Catalogue

Available by appointment with the archivist. Some parts of this collection will have restricted access in accordance with the Data Protection Act and other legislation, as well as for conservation reasons. Please consult the relevant part of the catalogue for specific details.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright lies with the University of the Arts London unless otherwise stated.