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A Brief History of the University of Bedfordshire

The University of Bedfordshire sits at the heart of Luton, 20 minutes away from the Bedford city center and is an eye-catching sleek white-walled and glass structure of modern architecture. Designed by Sir Ernest George (1839 – 1922) and Alfred Yates (1852 – 1941) in 1911, the current building is based on the Chequers design, though the original building has undergone redesign several times since. Edward Lutyens (1869 – 1944) designed the university grounds and Gertrude Jekyll (1843 – 1932) attended to the horticulture. 

The construction cost a rough estimate of £30,000. Yet, its contemporary design could fool even the most time-tempered historian with its looks as the university was founded in 1908 as the Luton Modern School and Technical Institute which later became known as the Luton College of Higher Education in 1976. The University of Bedfordshire gained university status in 1993. Only in August 2006 did the university become known as the University of Bedfordshire when the University of Luton and De Montfort University joined the campuses. The most recent chancellor of the university is the now-former Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

The University of Bedfordshire has six campuses spread across Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire and those campuses are Aylesbury, Bedford, Butterfield Park, Luton, Milton Keynes, and Putteridge Bury. Aylesbury is the residence for multi-purpose skill labs, a clinical simulation center and teaches nursing, psychiatry, and psychology.

Bedford is home to a Physical Education and Sports Science centre, and teaches Sports Science, Leisure and Tourism. Butterfield Park houses a £500,000 clinical simulation lab and provides education and training for today’s doctors and nurses. Butterfield Park is now closed with students being relocated to the Luton or Bedford Campus. Luton campus boasts a library – the Luton Learning Resource Centre – with over 200,000 books and focuses on art and design, media, social sciences, law, and business.

Milton Keynes has recently been established as part of the University of Bedfordshire and focuses on developing a Master’s education in business, electronics, communication and information technology. Putteridge Bury is the home to the university’s Bedfordshire business school postgraduate programme.

A fun bit of trivia to know is Virginia McKenna, the award-winning actress, received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts for her efforts in conservation of animals. House of Lords member and broadcaster Baroness Helena Kennedy received an Honorary Doctorate of Law and is a stalwart advocate for Human Rights Laws.

The postal address for the University of Bedfordshire is Vicarage Street, Luton LU1 3UJ. The Luton Library is open 24/7 while the campus reception is open Monday through Friday from 0830 AM to 2200 PM and on Saturday 1030 AM to 1730 PM.

Parking can be found in The Mall shopping centre. To reach the university from The Mall, walk through the centre until reaching the Information Point. Head left and go past New Look and Timpsons, past the market and then go down the stairs to the ground floor. Follow the footpath through Saint Mary’s Church and the university is just ahead.

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