University of London External System: Wikis


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University of London External System
Established 1858
Type Public Distance Education
Chancellor HRH The Princess Royal
Vice-Chancellor Sir Graeme Davies
Dean Jonathan Kydd
Students 41,000 in 180 countries [1]
Location London, England
The University of London Chancellor,HRH The Princess Royal, presiding over the External Programme Presentation Ceremony, 2006

The University of London External System is a division of the University of London that grants external degrees.



The institution that later became known as University College London was established in 1828, calling itself 'London University', although without official recognition of university status. The institution - following the Scottish model in curriculum and teaching - was non-denominational and, given the intense religious rivalries at the time, there was an outcry against the "godless" university. The issue soon boiled down to which institutions had degree-granting powers and which institutions did not.[2] The compromise solution that emerged in 1836 was that the sole authority to conduct the examinations leading to degrees would be given to a new officially recognised entity called the "University of London", which would act as examining body for the University of London colleges, originally University College London and King's College London, and award their students University of London degrees. As Sheldon Rothblatt states, "thus arose in nearly archetypal form the famous English distinction between teaching and examining, here embodied in separate institutions."[2] With the state giving examining powers to a separate entity, the groundwork was laid for the creation of a programme within the new university that would both administer examinations and award qualifications to students taking instruction at another institution or pursuing a course of self-directed study.

Referred to as "People's University" by Charles Dickens because it provided access to higher education to students from less affluent backgrounds, the External Programme was chartered by Queen Victoria in 1858, making the University of London the first university to offer distance learning degrees to students.[3 ][4]

Enrolment increased steadily in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and during the Second World War there was a further increase in enrolments from soldiers stationed abroad as well as soldiers imprisoned in German POW camps.[5] Because the Geneva Convention (1929) stipulated that every prisoner of war, in addition to being entitled to adequate food and medical care, had the right to exchange correspondence and receive parcels, many British POWs took advantage of this opportunity and enrolled in the University of London External Programme. The soldiers were sent study materials by mail, and at specified intervals sat for proctored exams in the camps. Almost 11,000 exams were taken at 88 camps between 1940 and 1945.[5] Though the failure rate was high, substantial numbers of soldiers earned degrees while imprisoned.

With the advent of inexpensive airmail services after the war the number of external students taking University of London courses increased dramatically.[5]

The University of London External System commemorated its 150th anniversary in 2008.[6] A specially commissioned anniversary book was produced to mark the occasion.[7]

Current system

The System offers courses of study for undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas and degrees to more than 40,000 students around the world. [8] A designated constituent institution of the University of London, called the "lead college", creates materials to allow students to study at their own pace. Examinations take place at testing centres around the world on specified dates. Hallmarks of the programme are its low cost in comparison to attendance in London, and the possibility of pursuing either full-time or part-time study.

As stated in the University of London Statutes[9], External System students are graded on the same standard as internal students to ensure a uniform credentialing process.[10] A student who completes a course of study under the program is awarded a University of London degree with a notation specifying which lead college provided the instruction.

Students enrolled in the University of London External System are full members of the University of London. They have equal standing with students at the university's colleges. For example, students enrolled with the University of London External System are members of the University of London Union. However, there are differences over the status external students have with respect to their lead college. Some institutions treat external students as college alumni, in addition to their status as University of London alumni. However, other colleges deny external students alumni status and privileges when they are present in London.

Academics at the University of London are responsible for the academic direction of the External System. When the External System was audited in 2005 by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the auditors concluded that "broad confidence" could be placed in the University’s management and the awards made through the External System ("broad confidence" is "the best verdict any institution can be given by the auditors").[11]

Most external students are in former territories of the British Empire. There are more than 9,000 students enrolled in the programme in Singapore[12], 5,000 in Hong Kong[13], 3,000 in Trinidad and Tobago[14 ], 2,000 in Malaysia[15], 1,900 in Pakistan[16], 1,200 in Bangladesh[17], 800 in Sri Lanka[18], 1000 in Canada[19], between 1,000 and 1,999 in the United States,[20] 300 in Malta[21], more than 200 in Australia, more than 200 in South Africa, more than 30 in New Zealand and many hundreds in India[22], among other countries.

The University of London External Programme is now to be known as the University of London External System. [23]


Participating colleges and institutes of the University of London

Senate House Entrance, University of London

One of the lead colleges, Imperial College London, left the University in July 2007. The School of Oriental and African Studies has become the lead college for the external degrees previously led by Imperial, while Imperial will offer its own distance learning MBA in competition with the two MBAs offered by the External System, led by SOAS and Royal Holloway.

Independent teaching institutions

In North America, the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia many students participating in the External System seek out tuition at one of the more than 200 private or non-profit institutions that prepare students for University of London examinations.[24 ] Such institutions may be audited and, if found to meet quality standards, may earn “permission to teach". The Laws Programme of the External System, grants "permission to teach"only to institutions that provide face-to-face teaching for the Diploma in Laws.


The University of London External System has played an important role in the development of higher education institutions in Britain. Many leading research universities in England started out as "university colleges" that prepared students for external degrees of the University of London. Examples include the University of Nottingham and the University of Exeter. This was a common way of establishing new universities in England during the first half of the twentieth century.


Nobel laureates

At least six Nobel Prizes have been awarded to alumni of the University of London External System:


External System Administrative Building, Stewart House, University of London

Further reading

  • Kenyon Jones, Christine (2008). The People’s University: 150 years of the University of London and its External students. London: University of London External System. ISBN 978-0-9557689-1-0 Pbk.  
  • Thompson, F. M. L.; (ed.) (1990). The University of London and the world of learning, 1836-1986. London: Hambledon Press. ISBN 978-1852850326.  

See also


  1. ^ University of London External System: 150th Anniversary; retrieved 4th March 2008
  2. ^ a b Sheldon Rothblatt, "Review: Supply and Demand: The Two Histories of English Education," History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 4., Winter, 1988, pp. 627-644.
  3. ^ a b c d "History", University of London External Programme Website
  4. ^ "Key Facts", University of London External Programme Website
  5. ^ a b c d Tatum Anderson, "History lessons at the people's university," Guardian Weekly, May 16, 2007
  6. ^ - 150th Anniversary - microsite
  7. ^ - 150th Anniversary - microsite
  8. ^ "About Us", University of London External Programme Website
  9. ^ University of London Statutes, 14 December 2005
  10. ^ University of London Parity Standards, Document
  11. ^ University of London Press Release, "Vote of confidence in delivering world-wide education for the University of London", 10 April 2006
  12. ^ "Study in Singapore for a University of London Degree", Website
  13. ^ "Study in Hong Kong for a University of London Degree", Website
  14. ^ "Study in Trinidad and Tobago for a University of London Degree", Website
  15. ^ "Study in Malaysia for a University of London Degree", Website
  16. ^ "Study in Pakistan for a University of London Degree", Website
  17. ^ "Study in Bangladesh for a University of London Degree", Website
  18. ^ "Study in Sri Lanka for a University of London Degree", Website
  19. ^ "Study in Canada for a University of London Degree", Website
  20. ^ "Study in the United States for a University of London Degree", Website
  21. ^ "Study in Malta for a University of London Degree", Website
  22. ^ "Study in India for a University of London Degree", Website
  23. ^ University of London - distance learning - online education - degrees - courses - diplomas - UK - External System
  24. ^ University of London External Programme Directory of Institutions, Website
  25. ^ Ronald Coase. "Nobel Prize Autobiography," 1991
  26. ^ Joseph Needham, "Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, O.M., F.R.S. (1861-1947)," Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 17, No. 2. (Dec., 1962), pp. 117-162
  27. ^ London Connection, Issue 8, November 2009
  28. ^ Tatum Anderson, "History lessons at the people's university," Guardian Weekly, May 16, 2007
  29. ^ Anders Hallengren, "Nelson Mandela and the Rainbow of Culture," 11 September 2001
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h A unique network – former students and alumni, University of London External System
  31. ^ Wole Ogundele, "Rereading Beier," African Quarterly on the Arts, vol. 2, no. 3, (date?)
  32. ^ The Papers of Asa Briggs, Website
  33. ^ "Obituary: Professor Glyn Davies," The Daily Telegraph, 01-24-2003
  34. ^ Biography of Patrick du Val, Website
  35. ^ The Papers of Harold Jeffreys, Website
  36. ^ London Connection Alumni Newsletter, Spring 2007
  37. ^ Israel Kirzner's Curriculum Vitae
  38. ^ a b Notable alumni, University of London External System
  39. ^ Kelvin Lancaster Obituary, Columbia University, 1999
  40. ^ Biography of David Forbes Martyn, Website
  41. ^ Biography of Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, Website
  42. ^ Christine Kenyon Jones, The People's University: 150 years of the University of London and its External students (University of London External System, 2008) pages 148-149 ISBN 0955768918
  43. ^ London Connection Alumni Newsletter, Autumn 2005
  44. ^ University of St Andrews Administration webpage
  45. ^ Biography of A. N. R. Robinson, Website
  46. ^ Biography of Josiah Stamp, Website
  47. ^ M. J. Wise, "Obituary: Professor Sir Dudley Stamp," The Geographical Journal, Vol. 132, No. 4. (Dec., 1966), pp. 591-594
  48. ^ British Council, Website
  49. ^ Sarah Richardson, "A Masters plan for ambitious women," Evening Standard (London), Oct 24, 2006,+university+of+london+external&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4
  50. ^ Isadore Barmash. "Johns Hopkins Lecturer Named Thatcher Adviser", New York Times, October 6, 1980, Business & Finance, Page D2
  51. ^ Biography of H. G. Wells, Website
  52. ^ Ruddick, Nicholas (2001). The Time Machine (Broadview Literary Texts). Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press. ISBN 978-1551113050.  
  53. ^ Website Commemorating the Life of Edward Williams

External links


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