Our history

The University of Surrey was established on 9 September 1966 with the grant of its Royal Charter, but its roots go back to a late 19th-century concern to provide greater access to further and higher education for the poorer inhabitants of London.

Our milestones

  • Battersea Polytechnic Institute

    Battersea Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1891 and began concentrating on science and technology around 1920, teaching students for degrees from the University of London.

    Its academic reputation steadily grew and in 1956, it was one of the first institutions to be designated a 'college of advanced technology'. It was renamed Battersea College of Technology in 1957.

  • The move to Guildford

    By the beginning of the 1960s, the College had outgrown its main building in Battersea Park Road and in 1962 it was decided to move the institution to Guildford.

    Shortly afterwards, in 1963, the Robbins Report proposed that Battersea College should expand and become a university awarding its own degrees.

  • Surrey Research Park opens

    Surrey Research Park was opened by HRH The Duke of Kent in 1985. 

    The Park currently accommodates more than 100 companies, which employ 2,500 staff engaged in research and development activities – many of which relate closely to the work of the University's own faculties.

  • Developing Manor Park

    In the 2000s the University expanded to a new campus at Manor Park which is now home to a large area of student accommodation, as well as Surrey Sports Park and the School of Veterinary Medicine.

  • Strengthening connections at home and abroad

    In 2006, Surrey International Institute-DUFE (SII-DUFE) was established as a joint academic partnership institution between the University of Surrey and Dongbei University of Finance and Economics in Dalian, China.

    In 2009 the University signed a merger agreement with Guildford School of Acting (GSA), one of the most highly regarded theatre schools in the UK with a vibrant community of performers, performance makers, applied theatre practitioners, creative practitioners and technicians.

  • Campus investment

    Our estate has been transformed throughout the years – including £130 million on student accommodation, £36 million on Surrey Sports Park, £16 million on the Library and Learning Centre and £4.5 million on the Ivy Arts Centre.

    On top of this has come further investment in the form of a new £45 million School of Veterinary Medicine, £70 million support for the 5G/6G Innovation Centre, one of the world’s first research centres dedicated to mobile communications and future internet technologies, and the Kate Granger building, our new home for School of Health Sciences on Surrey Research Park.

  • 125 years of shaping the future

    In 2016, Surrey celebrated the 125th anniversary of its foundation. Our commitment to first-rate academic activity and real-world solutions remains constant. With growing expertise in fields such as sustainable energy, telecommunications, space, disease control and health, we are passionate about turning the knowledge we generate into practical innovations that improve people’s lives.

  • University of the Year 2016

    We were delighted to be named University of the Year in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

  • 50th anniversary

    The bells of Guildford Cathedral rang out on 9 September 2016 to mark the beginning of our 50th anniversary year, celebrating half a century of calling Guildford ‘home’.


The University Archives provide information about our history and organisation, conveying evidence of its policies and decisions, showing what the University has done and why, how it is organised and operates, and its effect on the wider community.

The University Archive collections

Established in accordance with a resolution of the University Senate of 7 February 1984, the University Archive collections is the official repository for the historical records of the University of Surrey.

Records go back to the founding of Battersea Polytechnic in 1891. We collect copies of current publications, as well as minutes and other documents once they are no longer required for day-to-day business purposes.

The archives include:

  • Minutes of Senate, the University Council and their committees, and the Polytechnic Governing Body
  • Records of academic and administrative departments
  • Financial records, including annual accounts and balance sheets
  • Records of relations with external bodies and associated institutions
  • Publications, including annual reports, calendars, magazines, prospectuses, newsletters, student magazines and handbooks
  • Student enrolment records
  • Staff records
  • Examination papers
  • Records of University and Polytechnic land, estates and facilities
  • Photographs and items of historic interest, such as badges, clothes and trophies.

The University Archive Collections are managed by Archives and Special Collections who also hold a large number of other archive collections.