Northeastern’s move into new London campus marks another global milestone

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun is flanked by NCH founder Anthony Grayling, left, and Richard D’Amore, chairman of Northeastern’s board of trustees at the NCH at Northeastern gala. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett for Northeastern University

The expansion of Northeastern’s global learning network reached a major milestone this week with the opening of a new and expanded London campus on the Thames river.

“We want our students, wherever they start, wherever they are, to integrate the thinking that happens in the classroom experience with their world experience,” Northeastern President Joseph Aoun told hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni attending Wednesday’s official opening of Northeastern’s new campus in London.

A street-level view of the Devon House, the new home of NCH at Northeastern. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett for Northeastern University

NCH at Northeastern features amazing views of the Thames River waterfront, underneath Tower Bridge. The London campus of NCH at Northeastern relocated this summer from Bedford Square in Bloomsbury to a new, larger location at St. Katharine’s Dock in central London. Northeastern’s UK beachhead is spread over two sprawling floors of Devon House, with 38,000 square-feet of space with classrooms, cafes, study cubicles, conference rooms and administrative and faculty offices.

“NCH is the launchpad, the gateway, for our students to launch their global experience in this most international of cities,” said Richard D’Amore, chairman of Northeastern’s board of trustees, speaking at the opening. “It’s just more accessible for so many people as a jumping off point.” 

“We are building a global university system. We have students roaming the world, whether they start in Boston, in London, or soon, in California,” Aoun said, referring to Northeastern’s planned merger with Oakland-based Mills College next year.

The City of London financial district, the Bank of England and the Law Courts all lie within walking distance, with the parliament buildings of Westminster and the West End’s Theatre District a quick underground tube ride away. Undergraduates attending NCH at Northeastern live nearby in the diverse, endlessly trendy area of Spitalfields, close to the cultural and tech hub of Shoreditch and Hoxton.

First-year English and Communications student Tanya Verma of South Brunswick, New Jersey, thought she had booked a one-way ticket to Boston when she happened to tick the box noting she was open to studying in London in her college application last year. Six weeks into her studies, she’s soaking up Shakespeare’s London, the theatre district and the city’s diverse cultures.

The view of the Thames from the Devon House. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett for Northeastern University

“Entering college, I was nervous it would just be all books and academics, which isn’t a bad thing,” Verma said. “Landing in London in my first term has been kind of mind blowing: I’m able to develop a balance between the books and exploring the actual culture,” she said.

Tanya and roughly 400 other Northeastern students this term are attending classes through programs like that allows students to spend their first semester in London.

“Today’s changing world requires us to be more flexible in our skills,” said Tomas Zoani Gray, a first-year international relations student from Buenos Aires spending the year in London. Next year he moves on to Boston, where he plans to shift into finance. “This program really gives us the best of both worlds.”

The London campus is already home to a growing number of interdisciplinary faculty and researchers, and, in time, will serve as a center for Northeastern students taking part in co-op learning or apprenticeship programs abroad, President Aoun said.

Boston, London, and Oakland will form the backbone for the network of a dozen locations offering undergraduate, graduate, professional masters and certificate courses. Northeastern already has campuses in Boston, Toronto; Vancouver; Seattle; Silicon Valley, San Francisco; Portland, Maine; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Massachusetts campuses in Burlington and Nahant.

New College of the Humanities was founded a decade ago as a private college by the philosopher A. C. Grayling. Northeastern finalized its partnership with NCH in February 2019.

“I wanted to ensure that the humanities will always be a key part of what happens in a really, really good higher education institution,” Grayling said at the opening event. He stressed that “most of the people who graduate from a university are not going to be scholars and academics, they’re going to go out into the world … they need to be creators of wealth, they’re going to be innovators.”