History

Coventry University has a long tradition as a provider of education. Our roots go as far back as Coventry College of Design in 1843. It was in 1970 that Coventry College of Art amalgamated with Lanchester College of Technology and Rugby College of Engineering Technology.

The resulting institution was called Lanchester Polytechnic: 'Lanchester' after the Midlands automotive industry pioneer, Dr Frederick Lanchester, and 'Polytechnic' meaning 'skilled in many sciences and arts'.

outside coventry university

In 1987 the name changed to Coventry Polytechnic and in 1992 the University was set up under UK Government legislation, as laid out in the University’s Instrument and Articles of Government.

The Lanchester name has been preserved in the title of our art gallery, the Lanchester Gallery, as well as in the Lanchester Library.

Identity

The phoenix was a mythical bird with splendid plumage, reputed to live in the Arabian Desert. Fabled to be the only one of its kind, the phoenix lived for five or six centuries, after which it burned itself to death on a funeral pyre of aromatic twigs ignited by the sun and fanned by its own wings. The phoenix rose from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle.

Such a symbol is a fitting reminder of the way in which the city of Coventry rebuilt itself after suffering devastation during the Second World War. It is a symbol with which Coventry University is proud to be associated and to have adopted as its own.

Timeline

Explore our timeline to see how key events from our past are shaping our future.

1843

Then: Coventry School of Design opens in a former ribbon factory at the Burges to provide core skills to the community.

Now: This ethos remains in work-based learning and business-backed teaching. School of Design - 1843

1863

Then: A new School of Art building opens in Ford Street at a cost of £2,586 seeing growth of dedicated teaching sites.

Now: We are continuing to invest in our students and communities with continued regeneration across the city.

1868

Then: The School of Art is ranked as 15th out of 102 facilities in the country.

Now: Coventry is continuing to be rewarded for its excellence in teaching and learning. School of Art - 1868

1887

Then: A Technical Institute opens to stop Coventry falling behind European competitors in education provision.

Now: We still teach for a global workplace and create industry-ready graduates.

1902

Then: The renamed Technical College replaces the former Technical Institute.

Now: Coventry continues to offer technical education, encouraging more women in science and engineering than ever.

1929

Then: Rugby College of Technology and Arts opens as one of three institutions that would later become Coventry University.

Now: Our teaching spreads across the UK to offer flexible learning options and widen access to education.

1940

Then: Bombing during the Coventry Blitz in November destroys two thirds of city buildings including the School of Art and cathedral.

Now: The community responded with resilience and city is still recognised as a place of peace and reconciliation. Coventry Cathedral

1948

Then: The NHS is born and healthcare training including nursing and midwifery will soon come to Coventry.

Now: Coventry University now trains 75% of the Midlands’ healthcare professionals and offers care services for the community.

1960

Then: The first Students’ Union forms at Lanchester College of Technology.

Now: Your Students' Union still runs social groups and activities and helps students link with the city through community and volunteering projects. Coventry Cathedral

1965

Then: Coventry University begins to emerge as a leader in the field of research.

Now: This investment continues today with a wide range of innovative research projects with global impact.

1970

Then: Lanchester (Coventry) Polytechnic forms through mergers of city institutions.

Now: The legacy of Frederick Lanchester lives on to inspire a new generation through the Lanchester Interactive Archive.

1979

Then: A new movement of 2-Tone Ska begins at 'The Lanch’ students' union

Now: We continue to support emerging talent and preserve our music legacy. Ska Music

1990

Then: Coventry Business School founded in a restructuring of Coventry Polytechnic.

Now: Teaching now covers business and law and includes distance learning and industry-supported courses. Coventry Business School

1992

Then: Coventry Polytechnic becomes Coventry University under The Further and Higher Education Act.

Now: Coventry University is now investing in teaching globally and continuing to see league table success globally.

1995

Then: Lord Charles Henry Plumb becomes university’s first chancellor, holding the position until 2007.

Now: Building on her work in diversity and inclusion, Margaret Casely-Hayford was appointed in 2017. Lord Plumb

1999

Then: Ellen Terry building opens to performing arts students in the former Odeon cinema.

Now: The building now hosts performing arts teaching and annual Degree Shows.

2010

Then: Coventry University London Campus opens in the heart of the capital city.

Now: Renamed, Coventry University London, it still specialises in postgraduate teaching predominantly for business studies.

2014

Then: Coventry University Social Enterprise is created to help support student entrepreneurs.

Now: CUSE now helps student businesses and community starts-ups across the city.

2018

Then: The new HLS building in Whitefriars Street is officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Now: Thanks to innovative facilities the university now offers state-of-the-art healthcare training to students.

2021

Then: The eyes of the world were on Coventry as it celebrated diversity and inclusion with a year of activities.

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2020
Coventry City of Culture 2021