History of the University of Sheffield
The University of Sheffield was originally formed by the merger of three colleges. The Sheffield School of Medicine was founded in 1828, followed in 1879 by the opening of Firth College, which developed out of the Cambridge University Extension Movement scheme, by Mark Firth, a steel manufacturer, to teach arts and science subjects. Firth College then helped to fund the opening of the Sheffield Technical School in 1884 to teachapplied science, the only major faculty the existing colleges did not cover. The Sheffield Technical School was found to arouse local concern about the need for technical training, particularly steelmaking in Sheffield, and the school moved to St George's Square in 1886. The three institutions merged in 1897 to form the University College of Sheffield by Royal Charter. Sheffield was the only large city in England without a University. Steelworkers, coal miners, factory workers and the people of Sheffield donated over £50,000 in 1904 to help found the University of Sheffield.
It was originally envisaged that the University College would join Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds as the fourth member of the federal Victoria University. However, the Victoria University began to split up as independent universities before this could happen and so the University College of Sheffield received its own Royal Charter on 31 May 1905 and became the University of Sheffield. In July 1905, Firth Court on Western Bank was opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. St George's Square remained the centre of departments of Applied Science, and the departments of Arts, Medicine and Science moved to Western Bank. Sheffield is one of the six red brick universities, the civic universities founded in the major industrial cities of England.
Development since 1905
In 1905, there were 114 full-time students, and the first Hall of Residence (Stephenson Hall) and library (Edgar Allen library) had been established by then. The number of students increased to a short-lived peak of 1000 in 1919. During World War I, some of the academic subjects and courses were replaced by teaching of munitions making and medical appliances production. Rather than from a single centre, the university has expanded since the 1920s from two ends, the Firth Court on Western Bank and the Sir Frederick Mappin Building on the St George's site.
In 1943, the University Grants Committee announced that universities in the UK should look forward to expansion in the years after the World War II. Sheffield predicted a 50% increase in student population but the university was unprepared for such growth. There was pressure on the university to expand since the student numbers had increased from around 1000 to 3000 by 1946. The university announced proposals for development in 1947, which emphasised the need for new departments, medical school, library, administration building, halls of residence, as well as the completion of the Western Bank Quadrangles and the extension of the Students’ Union.
The university then grew slowly until the 1950s and 1960s when it began to expand rapidly. Many new buildings (including the Main Library and the Arts Tower) were built and older houses were brought into academic use. Student numbers increased to their present levels of just under 26,000. At the same time in the 1950s, the university was expanding at other sites, including the St Georges area. From the 1960s, many more buildings have been constructed or extended, including the Union of Students and St George's Library. The campus master plan proposed in the 1940s was completed by the 1970s, and the university required a new development plan.
The 1980s saw the opening of many new buildings and centres, such as the multi-purpose Octagon Centre and the Sir Henry Stephenson Building. The university's teaching hospital, Northern General Hospital, was also extended. In 1987 the University began to collaborate with its once would-be partners of the Victoria University by co-founding the Northern Consortium; a coalition for the education and recruitment of international students.
The university continued to expand in the 1990s. New premises were opened for School of the Clinical Dentistry, the Division of Education, and the Management School. In 1995, the University took over the Sheffield and North Trent College of Nursing and Midwifery, the St George's Hospital was extended and a new building at the Northern General Hospital has been constructed, which greatly increased the size of the medical faculty. In 2005, the South Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority announced that it would split the training between Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University – however, the University decided to pull out of providing preregistration nursing and midwifery training due to "costs and operational difficulties".
In the 21st century, the University opened many more major buildings, such as the Jessop Building, the Soundhouse, Jessop West and the Information Commons. The Arts Tower building, the Students' Union and University House buildings, the Sheffield Bioincubator and University Health Centre were also refurbished. A new six-storey building, the Diamond, was opened on 28 September 2015. In February 2016, the university started to work with Sheffield City Council to transform public spaces around the campus. The £8 million project includes building and improving pedestrianisation, crossings, cycle routes, as well as greening the campus.