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Eight things about the University of Westminster that may surprise you

17 August 2017

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh waving from a car

We have collected eight fun facts about the University of Westminster that may surprise you.

1. The Queen is our patron

In 1912 King George V and Queen Mary paid a private visit to our predecessor the Regent Street Polytechnic to see the new building at 309 Regent Street. After this visit they were so impressed with what they saw, that they assented to become patrons of the Polytechnic, and the patronage of the monarch has continued since then. Last year a team of Westminster students, alumni and staff were invited to The Patron’s Lunch to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday. The Mall outside Buckingham Palace was transformed for its largest ever street party to celebrate The Queen’s patronage of over 600 charities and organisations – including the University of Westminster, one of only 23 universities in her patronage. The Westminster team could wave and sing happy birthday to The Queen and saw a number of royal family members.

2. The University of Westminster has its own cinema (and it’s a special one)

In 2015 the University of Westminster reopened its newly restored Regent Street Cinema which is known as the birthplace of British Cinema. Built in 1848 in the heart of London’s West End, it is where the first ever screening of moving images took place to a paying British audience. In 1896, it showed the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe, and as the curtain fell, British cinema was born. Regent Street Cinema is also the only UK cinema to show all moving image media from 16mm and 35mm to Super 8 film, to the latest in 4K digital film. Tickets are available for all Westminster student at a discounted rate.

3. Pink Floyd met here as our alumni and had their first rehearsals in our basement

While studying architecture between 1962 and 1965 at the Regent Street Polytechnic (predecessor to University of Westminster), Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright met and formed the band, originally called Sigma 6 and later renamed Pink Floyd. They rehearsed in the common room in our basement and played some of their first performances there. Roger Waters and Nick Mason visited the University in 2015 and unveiled a Regent Street Heritage Plaque to mark Regent Campus where they met. Don’t forget to find the plaque on the external facade left to the entrance next time you are here!

4. We helped to organise the 1908 Olympics

In 1908 the Regent Street Polytechnic (a predecessor of the University of Westminster), organised the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games including parades of competitors and prizewinners, and displays by the Polytechnic sports clubs. The Polytechnic Harriers organised the Marathon event at the 1908 Olympics, which established the international distance of 26 miles and 385 yards. Find out more about the University’s rich sporting heritage.

John Hayes of the USA winning the controversial 1908 Olympic Marathon

5. We are the most diverse university in the UK

The University of Westminster was named the most internationally diverse university in the UK in the Hotcourses Diversity Index (HDI). In addition, the University of Westminster went on to be ranked 29th in the world for International Outlook in the recently released Times Higher Education Young University Ranking 2017. This leads us onto the next point showing our love for embracing global perspectives…

6. The University has a fund to help you explore the world

We know that experience abroad promotes learning beyond traditional undergraduate courses, allowing you to gain perspective on other cultures, travel to exciting destinations, and enhance your career perspectives. So in an effort to promote academic development through international experiences, Westminster is offering undergraduate students international travel scholarships with a maximum award of £1,000. The Distant Horizons Award is for students who wish to take part in academic or career-related events or activities overseas but who may not have the financial capability to do so.

7. Westminster wins Oscars

Asif Kapadia and Shan Christopher Ogilvie win an Academy Award.

The latest addition to our Oscar hall of fame happened this year when Kristóf Deák, who graduated from the Directing Film and Television MA course in 2010, won the Oscar for his film Sing in the Best Live Action Short Film category. Last year our film graduate Shan Christopher Ogilvie won in the same category with his short film Stutterer, and Asif Kapadia, also our alumnus, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for the film Amy, about the late singer Amy Winehouse. Westminster academic Dr Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary The Look of Silence was also nominated in the latter category. Previously our graduate cinematographer Seamus McGarvey was nominated for Oscars in the Best Achievement in Cinemtography in 2008 for Atonement and for Anna Karenina in 2013.

8. One of our alumni is about to become the first British Muslim to go to space

Westminster graduate Hussain Manawer will make history as the first British Muslim to go to space after winning the Kruger Cowne Rising Star Programme. There has even been some gossip that Hussain will be joined by Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio on the space trip. The Westminster graduate has done impressive work around addressing misconceptions around Islam and raising awareness of mental health issues, recently breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest mental health lesson in history.

Find out what our top 10 highlights were in the 2016/17 academic year!


About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 175-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.


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