UWTSD celebrates its bicentenary


The story of higher education in Wales began 200 years ago with a vision and the knowledge that Wales could not prosper – spiritually, culturally nor economically – without educating its people and establishing a formal institution to serve Wales.

The Foundation stone was laid for St David’s College Lampeter on the 12 August 1822; it welcomed its first students on St David’s Day 1827 and received its Royal Charter in 1828.  It is the oldest degree-awarding institution in Wales.

Thomas Burgess, then Bishop of St David’s, achieved what others had attempted to do for centuries before. Donations came from far and wide to establish the first higher education institution in Wales with many contributing to its cost, including King George IV.

The Foundation stone was laid for St David’s College Lampeter on the 12 August 1822; it welcomed its first students on St David’s Day 1827 and received its Royal Charter in 1828.  It is the oldest degree-awarding institution in Wales.

For two hundred years, the higher education sector has served Wales well and has been key in establishing the country’s reputation as a modern economy, renowned for its entrepreneurial and creative spirit.

As economic and cultural anchors and stewards of their communities, universities have helped shape the nation, improving the life chances of individuals, exploiting knowledge, creating opportunities and responding to the social and economic needs of the day.

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and its predecessor institutions, were created to respond to such needs within rural communities and industrial heartlands.

The University has a distinguished track-record: 

  • The first teacher training college in Wales was established in Carmarthen in 1848;
  • The first School of Art was established in Swansea in 1853,
  • The first teacher training college for women was established in Swansea in 1872,
  • The University of Wales was established in 1893 by the people of Wales to promote and celebrate our distinctive language, heritage and culture;
  • and the technical college was established in Swansea in 1895.

From the seeds sown in Lampeter over two centuries ago, the University has grown into a multi-campus, dual-sector University providing a vocationally relevant bilingual curriculum in partnership with employers.

Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor said: “In marking our bicentenary, we are celebrating the foundation of higher education in Wales and the role of St David’s College Lampeter in that story. The historic importance of two centuries of continuity of higher education opportunities for Wales cannot be overstated. As universities and colleges have adapted and transformed themselves, the citizens of Wales have been given continuous lifelong learning opportunities.

Bishop Thomas Burgess and the founders of Lampeter saw the need to empower Welsh scholars through providing a university education. Their focus was to train Welshmen to become Anglican priests; those who would be spiritual leaders of their communities.

“The Lampeter campus has a significant international reputation in key areas of scholarship and, in particular, as a centre for the Humanities and international multi-faith and multi-cultural education. Over the years it has had to change and evolve in order to respond to new challenges and opportunities here in Wales and further afield”.

Today, it is an integral part of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, a dual sector University providing progression routes from entry level to doctoral studies. The confederation of these institutions has made them stronger and more resilient to deliver for Wales”.

With campuses across South and Mid Wales and an Institute for Inner City Learning supporting lifelong learning across the UK, UWTSD is renowned for applied learning and skills training supported by innovation, enterprise, creativity, and a commitment to sustainability.

The University’s campuses act as strategic economic, cultural and social hubs, facilitating the delivery of its civic mission. Over the past two centuries the University has evolved, transforming its academic offer, enhancing learning opportunities and access to Higher Education in order to respond to the social and economic needs of the day. UWTSD works with its communities at grassroots levels to provide transformational opportunities, building their capacity, resilience and creating opportunities to reinforce their sense of place and distinctiveness.

The vision is to be a University for Wales with a commitment to the well-being and heritage of the nation at its heart. It has a national mission to strengthen Wales’s innovative capacity through higher technical education, translational research, bilingual workforce development and employer-led training and education. The focus is on impact and tackling society’s most pressing challenges, working in partnership with government and employers to provide students and graduates with the skills they need to thrive and make a difference.

In a period when the Welsh Government is radically reconfiguring the tertiary educational system, the UWTSD Group is well-placed to deliver on its objectives. This confederation of institutions provides additional capacity to respond to employers’ needs for higher technical skills through degree apprenticeships, micro-credentials, blended work-based learning and two-year degrees programmes. Such initiatives will support the Welsh Government’s economic recovery plan and allow it to further its policy objective to create a more coherent post-compulsory education system in Wales.

For UWTSD, the journey continues as the University continues to transform education and transform the lives of those it serves.

This is a new University for Wales.

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Mobile: 07384 467071

Email: Rebecca.Davies@uwtsd.ac.uk