History & heritage

1867/68 - 2017/18

150 years of history

From our beginnings in the Victorian era as a collection of public art and design colleges in Canterbury, Epsom, Guildford, Farnham, Maidstone and Rochester, to being named in the top 25 of all UK universities this year (2017), UCA has dedicated itself to shaping and inspiring artists fit to work in the thriving creative industries for 150 years.

Starting as a number of smaller art schools which were spread across Southeast England, our Surrey origins began with the Farnham School of Art (1866), Guildford School of Art (1870) and Epsom & Ewell School of Art (1896). The three schools merged in 1969 to form the West Surrey College of Art & Design, which evolved into the Surrey Institute of Art & Design (SIAD) in 1995.

Our Kent founding schools were Maidstone College of Art (1867), Canterbury School of Art (1882), Medway College of Design (1886), and Canterbury School of Architecture (1948). The four schools joined together in 1987 to become the Kent Institute of Art & Design (KIAD).

UCA today

More value is being placed on qualifications and higher education within the arts, particularly as demand for a highly skilled, creative workforce has increased for the thriving creative industries. We have developed and adapted the education we offer to meet the needs of industries as well as students.

In 2005, SIAD and KIAD came together to form the University College for the Creative Arts, and, in May 2008, we received full university status from the Privy Council, changing our name to University for the Creative Arts in September that year. In 2016, we evolved further when the Open College of the Arts (OCA) joined the fold, furthering the reach of creative education.

From our origins as a collection of humble art schools in the South East 150 years ago, UCA has grown into the UK’s top specialist university for the creative industries. Inspiring filmmakers, animators, artists, designers and architects to name but a few, UCA is educating a workforce fit to take the rapidly growing creative industries forward into the unknown.