Northeastern becomes the first U.S.-based institution of higher learning to be granted ‘university title’ in England

Northeastern’s London campus at Devon House. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett for Northeastern University

Northeastern is the first U.S.-based institution of higher learning to be granted “university title” by England’s higher education regulator, the Office for Students.

When Northeastern merged with London’s New College of the Humanities in February 2019 the school’s name was changed to NCH at Northeastern. On Wednesday, history was made when it became Northeastern University – London.

Use of the word “university” is protected by law in the UK and cannot be used without explicit approval, which was granted to Northeastern by the Office for Students, the independent regulator of higher education in England. The endorsement followed a rigorous regulatory process.Susan Lapworth, interim chief executive of the Office for Students, said students need assurance that a higher education provider using the title “university” will live up to its name. Northeastern, founded in 1898, has more than 27,000 students on 13 global campuses.

“Protecting the use of the term ‘university’ by carefully considering the suitability of an institution to hold that title, means the (Office for Students) is protecting the reputation of the entire sector,” Lapworth said.

This is the first time the Office for Students, founded in 2018, has granted permission to use the title of university. Northeastern University – London, which is owned by Northeastern, was also approved by the Companies House, the registrar of businesses in the UK.

“We are very grateful that the Office for Students has granted its approval for Northeastern to have university title,” said Mary Ludden, Northeastern’s senior vice president for global network and strategic initiatives. “Northeastern’s experiential learning model, coupled with the legacy of the New College of Humanities, has created a truly unique experience at Northeastern University – London where our learners discover and explore the intersection of the humanities, digital, and biological worlds while studying in one of the most exciting cities in the world.”

Lapworth said she is pleased the Office of Students was able to approve this new name for Northeastern University – London.

“Supporting growth and innovation in the higher education sector enables greater choice and equality of opportunity for students,” she said.

Last summer, Northeastern’s London campus relocated from Bedford Square in Bloomsbury to a new, larger location at St. Katharine Dock in central London. It’s now spread over three floors of Devon House with 48,000 square-feet of space with classrooms, cafes, study cubicles, conference rooms and administrative and faculty offices.

On July 1, Northeastern merged with Mills College in Oakland, California, to create Mills College at Northeastern University.

The London and Oakland campuses – both offering undergraduate and graduate degrees – are flagship campuses in Northeastern’s global network, which also includes campuses in Boston, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, Seattle and Silicon Valley, as well as Portland, Maine; Charlotte, North Carolina; Arlington, Virginia, and Burlington and Nahant, Massachusetts.

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