From The University College London (UK) And From The University of Cambridge (UK): “Discovery of new ice may change understanding of water” 

UCL bloc

From The University College London (UK)


U Cambridge bloc

From The University of Cambridge (UK)

Mark Greaves
+44 (0)7990 675947

Researchers at The University College London and the University of Cambridge have discovered a new type of ice that more closely resembles liquid water than any other known ices and that may rewrite our understanding of water and its many anomalies.


The newly discovered ice is amorphous – that is, its molecules are in a disorganized form, not neatly ordered as they are in ordinary, crystalline ice. Amorphous ice, although rare on Earth, is the main type of ice found in space. That is because in the colder environment of space, ice does not have enough thermal energy to form crystals.

For the study, published in the journal Science [below], the research team used a process called ball milling, vigorously shaking ordinary ice together with steel balls in a jar cooled to -200 degrees Centigrade.

They found that, rather than ending up with small bits of ordinary ice, the process yielded a novel amorphous form of ice that, unlike all other known ices, had the same density as liquid water and whose state resembled water in solid form. They named the new ice medium-density amorphous ice (MDA).

The team suggested that MDA (which looks like a fine white powder) may exist inside ice moons of the outer solar system, as tidal forces from gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn may exert similar shear forces on ordinary ice as those created by ball milling. In addition, the team found that when MDA was warmed up and recrystallized, it released an extraordinary amount of heat, meaning it could trigger tectonic motions and “icequakes” in the kilometres-thick covering of ice on moons such as Jupiter’s Ganymede.

Senior author Professor Christoph Salzmann (UCL Chemistry) said: “Water is the foundation of all life. Our existence depends on it, we launch space missions searching for it, yet from a scientific point of view it is poorly understood.

“We know of 20 crystalline forms of ice but only two main types of amorphous ice have previously been discovered, known as high-density and low-density amorphous ices. There is a huge density gap between them and the accepted wisdom has been that no ice exists within that density gap. Our study shows that the density of MDA is precisely within this density gap and this finding may have far-reaching consequences for our understanding of liquid water and its many anomalies.”

The density gap between the known amorphous ices has led scientists to suggest water in fact exists as two liquids at very cold temperatures and that theoretically, at a certain temperature, both of these liquids could co-exist, with one type floating above the other, as when mixing oil and water. This hypothesis has been demonstrated in a computer simulation, but not confirmed by experiment. The researchers say that their new study may raise questions about the validity of this idea.

Professor Salzmann said: “Existing models of water should be re-tested. They need to be able to explain the existence of medium-density amorphous ice. This could be the starting point for finally explaining liquid water.”

The researchers proposed that the newly discovered ice may be the true glassy state of liquid water – that is, a precise replica of liquid water in solid form, in the same way that glass in windows is the solid form of liquid silicon dioxide. However, another scenario is that MDA is not glassy at all, but is in a heavily sheared crystalline state.

Co-author Professor Andrea Sella (UCL Chemistry) said: “We have shown it is possible to create what looks like a stop-motion kind of water. This is an unexpected and quite amazing finding.”

Lead author Dr Alexander Rosu-Finsen, who carried out the experimental work while at UCL Chemistry, said: “We shook the ice like crazy for a long time and destroyed the crystal structure. Rather than ending up with smaller pieces of ice, we realized that we had come up with an entirely new kind of thing, with some remarkable properties.”

By mimicking the ball-milling procedure via repeated random shearing of crystalline ice, the team also created a computational model of MDA. Dr Michael Davies, who carried out the computational modelling whilst a PhD student in the ICE (interfaces, catalytic & environmental) lab at UCL and the University of Cambridge, said: “Our discovery of MDA raises many questions on the nature of liquid water and so understanding MDA’s precise atomic structure is very important.”

Ordinary crystalline ice (left) and MDA (right) at the atomic-scale. Credit: Michael Davies.

Water has many anomalies that have long baffled scientists. For instance, water is at its most dense at 4 degrees Centigrade and becomes less dense as it freezes (hence why ice floats). Also, the more you squeeze liquid water, the easier it gets to compress, deviating from principles true for most other substances.

Amorphous ice was first discovered in its low-density form in the 1930s when scientists condensed water vapour on a metal surface cooled to -110 degrees Centigrade. Its high-density state was discovered in the 1980s when ordinary ice was compressed at nearly -200 degrees Centigrade. While common in space, on Earth, amorphous ice is thought only to occur in the cold upper reaches of the atmosphere.

Ball milling is a technique used in several industries to grind or blend materials, but had not before been applied to ice. In the study, liquid nitrogen was used to cool a grinding jar to -200 degrees Centigrade and the density of the ball-milled ice was determined from its buoyancy in liquid nitrogen. The researchers used a number of other techniques to analyse the structure and properties of MDA, including X-ray diffraction (looking at the pattern of X-rays reflected off the ice) and Raman spectroscopy (looking at how the ice scatters light) at UCL Chemistry as well as small-angle diffraction at the UCL Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering to explore its long-range structure.

Furthermore, they used calorimetry to investigate the heat released when the medium-density ice recrystallized at warmer temperatures. They found that, if they compressed the MDA and then warmed it up, it released a surprisingly large amount of energy as it recrystallized showing that H2O can be a high-energy geophysical material that may drive tectonic motions in the ice moons of the solar system.


See the full article here .

Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

Stem Education Coalition

U Cambridge Campus

The University of Cambridge (UK) [legally The Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Cambridge] is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209 Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university. It grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford (UK) after a dispute with townsfolk. The two ancient universities share many common features and are often jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.

Cambridge is formed from a variety of institutions which include 31 semi-autonomous constituent colleges and over 150 academic departments, faculties and other institutions organized into six schools. All the colleges are self-governing institutions within the university, each controlling its own membership and with its own internal structure and activities. All students are members of a college. Cambridge does not have a main campus and its colleges and central facilities are scattered throughout the city. Undergraduate teaching at Cambridge is organized around weekly small-group supervisions in the colleges – a feature unique to the Oxbridge system. These are complemented by classes, lectures, seminars, laboratory work and occasionally further supervisions provided by the central university faculties and departments. Postgraduate teaching is provided predominantly centrally.

Cambridge University Press a department of the university is the oldest university press in the world and currently the second largest university press in the world. Cambridge Assessment also a department of the university is one of the world’s leading examining bodies and provides assessment to over eight million learners globally every year. The university also operates eight cultural and scientific museums, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, as well as a botanic garden. Cambridge’s libraries – of which there are 116 – hold a total of around 16 million books, around nine million of which are in Cambridge University Library, a legal deposit library. The university is home to – but independent of – the Cambridge Union – the world’s oldest debating society. The university is closely linked to the development of the high-tech business cluster known as “Silicon Fe”. It is the central member of Cambridge University Health Partners, an academic health science centre based around the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

By both endowment size and consolidated assets Cambridge is the wealthiest university in the United Kingdom. In the fiscal year ending 31 July 2019, the central university – excluding colleges – had a total income of £2.192 billion of which £592.4 million was from research grants and contracts. At the end of the same financial year the central university and colleges together possessed a combined endowment of over £7.1 billion and overall consolidated net assets (excluding “immaterial” historical assets) of over £12.5 billion. It is a member of numerous associations and forms part of the ‘golden triangle’ of English universities.

Cambridge has educated many notable alumni including eminent mathematicians; scientists; politicians; lawyers; philosophers; writers; actors; monarchs and other heads of state. As of October 2020, 121 Nobel laureates; 11 Fields Medalists; 7 Turing Award winners; and 14 British prime ministers have been affiliated with Cambridge as students; alumni; faculty or research staff. University alumni have won 194 Olympic medals.


By the late 12th century, the Cambridge area already had a scholarly and ecclesiastical reputation due to monks from the nearby bishopric church of Ely. However, it was an incident at Oxford which is most likely to have led to the establishment of the university: three Oxford scholars were hanged by the town authorities for the death of a woman without consulting the ecclesiastical authorities who would normally take precedence (and pardon the scholars) in such a case; but were at that time in conflict with King John. Fearing more violence from the townsfolk scholars from the University of Oxford started to move away to cities such as Paris; Reading; and Cambridge. Subsequently enough scholars remained in Cambridge to form the nucleus of a new university when it had become safe enough for academia to resume at Oxford. In order to claim precedence, it is common for Cambridge to trace its founding to the 1231 charter from Henry III granting it the right to discipline its own members (ius non-trahi extra) and an exemption from some taxes; Oxford was not granted similar rights until 1248.

A bull in 1233 from Pope Gregory IX gave graduates from Cambridge the right to teach “everywhere in Christendom”. After Cambridge was described as a studium generale in a letter from Pope Nicholas IV in 1290 and confirmed as such in a bull by Pope John XXII in 1318 it became common for researchers from other European medieval universities to visit Cambridge to study or to give lecture courses.

Foundation of the colleges

The colleges at the University of Cambridge were originally an incidental feature of the system. No college is as old as the university itself. The colleges were endowed fellowships of scholars. There were also institutions without endowments called hostels. The hostels were gradually absorbed by the colleges over the centuries; but they have left some traces, such as the name of Garret Hostel Lane.

Hugh Balsham, Bishop of Ely, founded Peterhouse – Cambridge’s first college in 1284. Many colleges were founded during the 14th and 15th centuries but colleges continued to be established until modern times. There was a gap of 204 years between the founding of Sidney Sussex in 1596 and that of Downing in 1800. The most recently established college is Robinson built in the late 1970s. However, Homerton College only achieved full university college status in March 2010 making it the newest full college (it was previously an “Approved Society” affiliated with the university).

In medieval times many colleges were founded so that their members would pray for the souls of the founders and were often associated with chapels or abbeys. The colleges’ focus changed in 1536 with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Henry VIII ordered the university to disband its Faculty of Canon Law and to stop teaching “scholastic philosophy”. In response, colleges changed their curricula away from canon law and towards the classics; the Bible; and mathematics.

Nearly a century later the university was at the centre of a Protestant schism. Many nobles, intellectuals and even commoners saw the ways of the Church of England as too similar to the Catholic Church and felt that it was used by the Crown to usurp the rightful powers of the counties. East Anglia was the centre of what became the Puritan movement. In Cambridge the movement was particularly strong at Emmanuel; St Catharine’s Hall; Sidney Sussex; and Christ’s College. They produced many “non-conformist” graduates who, greatly influenced by social position or preaching left for New England and especially the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the Great Migration decade of the 1630s. Oliver Cromwell, Parliamentary commander during the English Civil War and head of the English Commonwealth (1649–1660), attended Sidney Sussex.

Modern period

After the Cambridge University Act formalized the organizational structure of the university the study of many new subjects was introduced e.g. theology, history and modern languages. Resources necessary for new courses in the arts architecture and archaeology were donated by Viscount Fitzwilliam of Trinity College who also founded the Fitzwilliam Museum. In 1847 Prince Albert was elected Chancellor of the University of Cambridge after a close contest with the Earl of Powis. Albert used his position as Chancellor to campaign successfully for reformed and more modern university curricula, expanding the subjects taught beyond the traditional mathematics and classics to include modern history and the natural sciences. Between 1896 and 1902 Downing College sold part of its land to build the Downing Site with new scientific laboratories for anatomy, genetics, and Earth sciences. During the same period the New Museums Site was erected including the Cavendish Laboratory which has since moved to the West Cambridge Site and other departments for chemistry and medicine.

The University of Cambridge began to award PhD degrees in the first third of the 20th century. The first Cambridge PhD in mathematics was awarded in 1924.

In the First World War 13,878 members of the university served and 2,470 were killed. Teaching and the fees it earned came almost to a stop and severe financial difficulties followed. As a consequence, the university first received systematic state support in 1919 and a Royal Commission appointed in 1920 recommended that the university (but not the colleges) should receive an annual grant. Following the Second World War the university saw a rapid expansion of student numbers and available places; this was partly due to the success and popularity gained by many Cambridge scientists.

UCL campus

Established in 1826, as London University by founders inspired by the radical ideas of Jeremy Bentham, The University College London (UK) was the first university institution to be established in London, and the first in England to be entirely secular and to admit students regardless of their religion. University College London also makes contested claims to being the third-oldest university in England and the first to admit women. In 1836, University College London became one of the two founding colleges of the The University of London, which was granted a royal charter in the same year. It has grown through mergers, including with the Institute of Ophthalmology (in 1995); the Institute of Neurology (in 1997); the Royal Free Hospital Medical School (in 1998); the Eastman Dental Institute (in 1999); the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (in 1999); the School of Pharmacy (in 2012) and the Institute of Education (in 2014).

University College London has its main campus in the Bloomsbury area of central London, with a number of institutes and teaching hospitals elsewhere in central London and satellite campuses in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London and in Doha, Qatar. University College London is organized into 11 constituent faculties, within which there are over 100 departments, institutes and research centres. University College London operates several museums and collections in a wide range of fields, including the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, and administers the annual Orwell Prize in political writing. In 2019/20, UCL had around 43,840 students and 16,400 staff (including around 7,100 academic staff and 840 professors) and had a total income of £1.54 billion, of which £468 million was from research grants and contracts.

University College London is a member of numerous academic organizations, including the Russell Group(UK) and the League of European Research Universities, and is part of UCL Partners, the world’s largest academic health science centre, and is considered part of the “golden triangle” of elite, research-intensive universities in England.

University College London has many notable alumni, including the respective “Fathers of the Nation” of India; Kenya and Mauritius; the founders of Ghana; modern Japan; Nigeria; the inventor of the telephone; and one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA. UCL academics discovered five of the naturally occurring noble gases; discovered hormones; invented the vacuum tube; and made several foundational advances in modern statistics. As of 2020, 34 Nobel Prize winners and 3 Fields medalists have been affiliated with UCL as alumni, faculty or researchers.


University College London was founded on 11 February 1826 under the name London University, as an alternative to the Anglican universities of the University of Oxford (UK) and University of Cambridge (UK). London University’s first Warden was Leonard Horner, who was the first scientist to head a British university.

Despite the commonly held belief that the philosopher Jeremy Bentham was the founder of University College London, his direct involvement was limited to the purchase of share No. 633, at a cost of £100 paid in nine installments between December 1826 and January 1830. In 1828 he did nominate a friend to sit on the council, and in 1827 attempted to have his disciple John Bowring appointed as the first professor of English or History, but on both occasions his candidates were unsuccessful. This suggests that while his ideas may have been influential, he himself was less so. However, Bentham is today commonly regarded as the “spiritual father” of University College London, as his radical ideas on education and society were the inspiration to the institution’s founders, particularly the Scotsmen James Mill (1773–1836) and Henry Brougham (1778–1868).

In 1827, the Chair of Political Economy at London University was created, with John Ramsay McCulloch as the first incumbent, establishing one of the first departments of economics in England. In 1828 the university became the first in England to offer English as a subject and the teaching of Classics and medicine began. In 1830, London University founded the London University School, which would later become University College School. In 1833, the university appointed Alexander Maconochie, Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, as the first professor of geography in the British Isles. In 1834, University College Hospital (originally North London Hospital) opened as a teaching hospital for the university’s medical school.

1836 to 1900 – University College, London

In 1836, London University was incorporated by royal charter under the name University College, London. On the same day, The University of London was created by royal charter as a degree-awarding examining board for students from affiliated schools and colleges, with University College and King’s College, London being named in the charter as the first two affiliates.

The Slade School of Fine Art was founded as part of University College in 1871, following a bequest from Felix Slade.

In 1878, the University College London gained a supplemental charter making it the first British university to be allowed to award degrees to women. The same year University College London admitted women to the faculties of Arts and Law and of Science, although women remained barred from the faculties of Engineering and of Medicine (with the exception of courses on public health and hygiene). While University College London claims to have been the first university in England to admit women on equal terms to men, from 1878, The University of Bristol (UK) also makes this claim, having admitted women from its foundation (as a college) in 1876. Armstrong College, a predecessor institution of Newcastle University (UK), also allowed women to enter from its foundation in 1871, although none actually enrolled until 1881. Women were finally admitted to medical studies during the First World War in 1917, although limitations were placed on their numbers after the war ended.

In 1898, Sir William Ramsay discovered the elements krypton, neon, and xenon whilst professor of chemistry at University College London.

1900 to 1976 – University of London, University College

In 1900, the University College London was reconstituted as a federal university with new statutes drawn up under the University of London Act 1898. UCL, along with a number of other colleges in London, became a school of the University of London. While most of the constituent institutions retained their autonomy, University College London was merged into the University in 1907 under the University College London (Transfer) Act 1905 and lost its legal independence. Its formal name became University College London, University College, although for most informal and external purposes the name “University College, London” (or the initialism UCL) was still used.

1900 also saw the decision to appoint a salaried head of the college. The first incumbent was Carey Foster, who served as Principal (as the post was originally titled) from 1900 to 1904. He was succeeded by Gregory Foster (no relation), and in 1906 the title was changed to Provost to avoid confusion with the Principal of the University of London. Gregory Foster remained in post until 1929. In 1906, the Cruciform Building was opened as the new home for University College Hospital.

As it acknowledged and apologized for in 2021, University College London played “a fundamental role in the development, propagation and legitimization of eugenics” during the first half of the 20th century. Among the prominent eugenicists who taught at University College London were Francis Galton, who coined the term “eugenics”, and Karl Pearson, and eugenics conferences were held at UCL until 2017.

University College London sustained considerable bomb damage during the Second World War, including the complete destruction of the Great Hall and the Carey Foster Physics Laboratory. Fires gutted the library and destroyed much of the main building, including the dome. The departments were dispersed across the country to Aberystwyth; Bangor; Gwynedd; University of Cambridge; University of Oxford; (UK) Rothamsted near Harpenden; Hertfordshire; and Sheffield, with the administration at Stanstead Bury near Ware, Hertfordshire. The first UCL student magazine, Pi, was published for the first time on 21 February 1946. The Institute of Jewish Studies relocated to UCL in 1959.

The Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UK) was established in 1967. In 1973, UCL became the first international node to the precursor of the internet, The ARPANET.

ARPANET schematic

Although University College London was among the first universities to admit women on the same terms as men, in 1878, the college’s senior common room, the Housman Room, remained men-only until 1969. After two unsuccessful attempts, a motion was passed that ended segregation by sex at University College London. This was achieved by Brian Woledge (Fielden Professor of French at University College London from 1939 to 1971) and David Colquhoun, at that time a young lecturer in pharmacology.

1976 to 2005 – University College London (UK)

In 1976, a new charter restored University College London’s legal independence, although still without the power to award its own degrees. Under this charter the college became formally known as University College London. This name abandoned the comma used in its earlier name of “University College, London”.

In 1986, University College London merged with the Institute of Archaeology. In 1988, University College London merged with the Institute of Laryngology & Otology; the Institute of Orthopaedics; the Institute of Urology & Nephrology; and Middlesex Hospital Medical School.

In 1993, a reorganization of the University of London meant that University College London and other colleges gained direct access to government funding and the right to confer University of London degrees themselves. This led to University College London being regarded as a de facto university in its own right.

In 1994, the University College London Hospitals NHS Trust was established. University College London merged with the College of Speech Sciences and the Institute of Ophthalmology in 1995; the Institute of Child Health and the School of Podiatry in 1996; and the Institute of Neurology in 1997. In 1998, UCL merged with the Royal Free Hospital Medical School to create the Royal Free and University College Medical School (renamed the University College London Medical School in October 2008). In 1999, UCL merged with the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and the Eastman Dental Institute.

The University College London Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, the first university department in the world devoted specifically to reducing crime, was founded in 2001.

Proposals for a merger between University College London and Imperial College London (UK) were announced in 2002. The proposal provoked strong opposition from University College London teaching staff and students and the AUT union, which criticized “the indecent haste and lack of consultation”, leading to its abandonment by University College London provost Sir Derek Roberts. The blogs that helped to stop the merger are preserved, though some of the links are now broken: see David Colquhoun’s blog and the Save University College London blog, which was run by David Conway, a postgraduate student in the department of Hebrew and Jewish studies.

The London Centre for Nanotechnology was established in 2003 as a joint venture between University College London and Imperial College London (UK). They were later joined by King’s College London (UK) in 2018.

Since 2003, when University College London professor David Latchman became master of the neighboring Birkbeck, he has forged closer relations between these two University of London colleges, and personally maintains departments at both. Joint research centres include the UCL/Birkbeck Institute for Earth and Planetary Sciences; the University College London /Birkbeck/IoE Centre for Educational Neuroscience; the University College London /Birkbeck Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology; and the Birkbeck- University College London Centre for Neuroimaging.

2005 to 2010

In 2005, University College London was finally granted its own taught and research degree awarding powers and all University College London students registered from 2007/08 qualified with University College London degrees. Also in 2005, University College London adopted a new corporate branding under which the name University College London was replaced by the initialism UCL in all external communications. In the same year, a major new £422 million building was opened for University College Hospital on Euston Road, the University College London Ear Institute was established and a new building for the University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies was opened.

In 2007, the University College London Cancer Institute was opened in the newly constructed Paul O’Gorman Building. In August 2008, University College London formed UCL Partners, an academic health science centre, with Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust; Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust; and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. In 2008, University College London established the University College London School of Energy & Resources in Adelaide, Australia, the first campus of a British university in the country. The School was based in the historic Torrens Building in Victoria Square and its creation followed negotiations between University College London Vice Provost Michael Worton and South Australian Premier Mike Rann.

In 2009, the Yale UCL Collaborative was established between University College London; UCL Partners; Yale University; Yale School of Medicine; and Yale – New Haven Hospital. It is the largest collaboration in the history of either university, and its scope has subsequently been extended to the humanities and social sciences.

2010 to 2015

In June 2011, the mining company BHP Billiton agreed to donate AU$10 million to University College London to fund the establishment of two energy institutes – the Energy Policy Institute; based in Adelaide, and the Institute for Sustainable Resources, based in London.

In November 2011, University College London announced plans for a £500 million investment in its main Bloomsbury campus over 10 years, as well as the establishment of a new 23-acre campus next to the Olympic Park in Stratford in the East End of London. It revised its plans of expansion in East London and in December 2014 announced to build a campus (UCL East) covering 11 acres and provide up to 125,000m^2 of space on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. UCL East will be part of plans to transform the Olympic Park into a cultural and innovation hub, where University College London will open its first school of design, a centre of experimental engineering and a museum of the future, along with a living space for students.

The School of Pharmacy, University of London merged with University College London on 1 January 2012, becoming the University College London School of Pharmacy within the Faculty of Life Sciences. In May 2012, University College London, Imperial College London (UK) and the semiconductor company Intel announced the establishment of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities, a London-based institute for research into the future of cities.

In August 2012, University College London received criticism for advertising an unpaid research position; it subsequently withdrew the advert.

University College London and the Institute of Education formed a strategic alliance in October 2012, including co-operation in teaching, research and the development of the London schools system. In February 2014, the two institutions announced their intention to merge, and the merger was completed in December 2014.

In September 2013, a new Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) was established within the Faculty of Engineering, one of several initiatives within the university to increase and reflect upon the links between research and public sector decision-making.

In October 2013, it was announced that the Translation Studies Unit of Imperial College London would move to University College London, becoming part of the University College London School of European Languages, Culture and Society. In December 2013, it was announced that University College London and the academic publishing company Elsevier would collaborate to establish the UCL Big Data Institute. In January 2015, it was announced that University College London had been selected by the UK government as one of the five founding members of the Alan Turing Institute(UK) (together with the universities of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh(SCL), The University of Oxford (UK) and The University of Warwick(UK)), an institute to be established at the British Library to promote the development and use of advanced mathematics, computer science, algorithms and big data.

2015 to 2020

In August 2015, the Department of Management Science and Innovation was renamed as the School of Management and plans were announced to greatly expand University College London’s activities in the area of business-related teaching and research. The school moved from the Bloomsbury campus to One Canada Square in Canary Wharf in 2016.

University College London established the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) in 2015 to promote interdisciplinary research in humanities and social sciences. The prestigious annual Orwell Prize for political writing moved to the IAS in 2016.

In June 2016 it was reported in Times Higher Education that as a result of administrative errors hundreds of students who studied at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute between 2005–06 and 2013–14 had been given the wrong marks, leading to an unknown number of students being attributed with the wrong qualifications and, in some cases, being failed when they should have passed their degrees. A report by University College London’s Academic Committee Review Panel noted that, according to the institute’s own review findings, senior members of University College London staff had been aware of issues affecting students’ results but had not taken action to address them. The Review Panel concluded that there had been an apparent lack of ownership of these matters amongst the institute’s senior staff.

In December 2016 it was announced that University College London would be the hub institution for a new £250 million national dementia research institute, to be funded with £150 million from the Medical Research Council and £50 million each from Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Alzheimer’s Society.

In May 2017 it was reported that staff morale was at “an all-time low”, with 68% of members of the academic board who responded to a survey disagreeing with the statement ” University College London is well managed” and 86% with “the teaching facilities are adequate for the number of students”. Michael Arthur, the Provost and President, linked the results to the “major change programme” at University College London. He admitted that facilities were under pressure following growth over the past decade, but said that the issues were being addressed through the development of UCL East and rental of other additional space.

In October 2017 University College London’s council voted to apply for university status while remaining part of the University of London. University College London’s application to become a university was subject to Parliament passing a bill to amend the statutes of the University of London, which received royal assent on 20 December 2018.

The University College London Adelaide satellite campus closed in December 2017, with academic staff and student transferring to the University of South Australia (AU). As of 2019 UniSA and University College London are offering a joint master’s qualification in Science in Data Science (international).

In 2018, University College London opened UCL at Here East, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offering courses jointly between the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and the Faculty of Engineering Sciences. The campus offers a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate master’s degrees, with the first undergraduate students, on a new Engineering and Architectural Design MEng, starting in September 2018. It was announced in August 2018 that a £215 million contract for construction of the largest building in the UCL East development, Marshgate 1, had been awarded to Mace, with building to begin in 2019 and be completed by 2022.

In 2017 University College London disciplined an IT administrator who was also the University and College Union (UCU) branch secretary for refusing to take down an unmoderated staff mailing list. An employment tribunal subsequently ruled that he was engaged in union activities and thus this disciplinary action was unlawful. As of June 2019 University College London is appealing this ruling and the UCU congress has declared this to be a “dispute of national significance”.

2020 to present

In 2021 University College London formed a strategic partnership with Facebook AI Research (FAIR), including the creation of a new PhD programme.


University College London has made cross-disciplinary research a priority and orientates its research around four “Grand Challenges”, Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.

In 2014/15, University College London had a total research income of £427.5 million, the third-highest of any British university (after the University of Oxford (UK) and Imperial College London (UK)). Key sources of research income in that year were BIS research councils (£148.3 million); UK-based charities (£106.5 million); UK central government; local/health authorities and hospitals (£61.5 million); EU government bodies (£45.5 million); and UK industry, commerce and public corporations (£16.2 million). In 2015/16, University College London was awarded a total of £85.8 million in grants by UK research councils, the second-largest amount of any British university (after the University of Oxford (UK)), having achieved a 28% success rate. For the period to June 2015, University College London was the fifth-largest recipient of Horizon 2020 EU research funding and the largest recipient of any university, with €49.93 million of grants received. University College London also had the fifth-largest number of projects funded of any organization, with 94.

According to a ranking of universities produced by SCImago Research Group University College London is ranked 12th in the world (and 1st in Europe) in terms of total research output. According to data released in July 2008 by ISI Web of Knowledge, University College London is the 13th most-cited university in the world (and most-cited in Europe). The analysis covered citations from 1 January 1998 to 30 April 2008, during which 46,166 UCL research papers attracted 803,566 citations. The report covered citations in 21 subject areas and the results revealed some of University College London’s key strengths, including: Clinical Medicine (1st outside North America); Immunology (2nd in Europe); Neuroscience & Behavior (1st outside North America and 2nd in the world); Pharmacology & Toxicology (1st outside North America and 4th in the world); Psychiatry & Psychology (2nd outside North America); and Social Sciences, General (1st outside North America).

University College London submitted a total of 2,566 staff across 36 units of assessment to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment, in each case the highest number of any UK university (compared with 1,793 UCL staff submitted to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008)). In the REF results 43% of University College London’s submitted research was classified as 4* (world-leading); 39% as 3* (internationally excellent); 15% as 2* (recognised internationally) and 2% as 1* (recognised nationally), giving an overall GPA of 3.22 (RAE 2008: 4* – 27%, 3* – 39%, 2* – 27% and 1* – 6%). In rankings produced by Times Higher Education based upon the REF results, University College London was ranked 1st overall for “research power” and joint 8th for GPA (compared to 4th and 7th respectively in equivalent rankings for the RAE 2008).