The university dates back to 1891, when Woolwich Polytechnic, the second-oldest polytechnic in the United Kingdom opened in Woolwich. It was founded by Frank Didden, supported by and following the principles of Quintin Hogg, and opened to students in October 1891. Like Hogg’s pioneering venture in London’s Regent Street, it initially combined education with social and religious functions.
In 1894 it focused on an educational role, concentrating on higher technical education appropriate to its location close to Woolwich Dockyard and the Royal Arsenal; William Anderson, director-general of the Ordnance Factories, was a trustee and later a member of the board of governors.Its premises were also used for day schools – the first Woolwich Polytechnic School was established in 1897.
In 1970, Woolwich Polytechnic merged with part of Hammersmith College of Art and Building to form Thames Polytechnic. In the following years, Dartford College (1976), Avery Hill College of Education (1985), Garnett College (1987) and parts of Goldsmiths College and the City of London College (1988) were incorporated.
In 1992, Thames Polytechnic was granted university status by the Major government (together with various other polytechnics) and renamed the University of Greenwich in 1993. On 1 January 1993, the Thames College of Health Care Studies, itself a merger of three local nursing and midwifery training schools, officially merged with the newly designated University of Greenwich, becoming a full faculty of the university.
Formerly a UK government research agency, the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) was incorporated into the university in 1996.
In 2001, the university gave up its historic main campus in the Bathway Quarter in Woolwich, relocating to its current main campus in Greenwich.
In 2012, the university was rated as the greenest in the UK by People & Planet Green League Table. In 2019, it was ranked 14 in UK, and third in London.
It has won two Guardian University Awards, four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education, including the Research Impact prize two years running in 2014 and 2015. The university has also won nine Times Higher Education awards, including: Most Innovative Teacher, Outstanding Engineering Research, Outstanding International Strategy, Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology, Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development.
In 2019, the university’s Natural Resources Institute was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research in pest management and control to combat human and animal diseases in the UK and internationally;] in 2015 it won a prize for work on the cassava crop in Africa.
Since 2014, the university has been classified as Silver in Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) of Higher Education.
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