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Red Brick university

Red Brick is a name given originally to the six civic British universities that were founded in the industrial cities of England in the Victorian era and achieved university status before WWI. The civic university movement started in 1851 with Owens College, Manchester (now the University of Manchester, which became the founding college of the federal Victoria University in 1880 and became a university status in its own right when the federal university was dissolved in 1903.

The distinctive feature of these universities was that they were non-collegiate institutions which admitted men without reference to religion or background and that they concentrated on 'real-world' skills, often linked to engineering. In this sense, they owed their heritage to University College London and to the Humboldt University in Berlin. This contrasted to the ancient English universities of Oxford and Cambridge and to the newer (although still pre-Victorian) University of Durham, collegiate institutions which concentrated on the Liberal Arts and which imposed religious tests (assent to the Thirty-Nine Articles) on staff and students. Scotland's ancient Universities (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and St Andrews), had been founded on a different basis

The term 'Red Brick' was first coined by a professor of music at the University of Liverpool to describe these civic universities. His reference was inspired by the fact that The Victoria Building at the University of Liverpool (which was designed by Alfred Waterhouse and completed in 1892) is built from a distinctive red pressed brick, with terracotta decorative dressings.

The six Civic Universities are:

However, the term in modern usage has become more nebulous. The University of Reading, founded in the early 20th century as an extension college of Oxford and becoming a university in 1926, is often classed as one of the Civic Universities, and thus Red Brick, as is the Queen's University, Belfast which became a University at the same time as the civic universities, having previously been a college of the Royal University of Ireland.

Other colleges from the 19th and early 20th centuries which later achieved university status in the post-war expansion are also sometimes described as Red Brick - this includes institutions such as the University of Exeter (originally an extension college of Cambridge) and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (originally a college of Durham). The term is also sometimes extended to cover the constituent institutions of the University of Wales (Aberystwyth, Bangor and Cardiff) and the colleges of the University of London (Birkbeck, the London School of Economics, Royal Holloway, Goldsmiths, Imperial and Queen Mary) founded in the same Victorian - WWI period as the civic universities.

The term is stretched even further by applying it to the pre-Victorian 19th century institutions, which predate the civic university movement - University College London, King's College London, the University of Durham and St David's College, Lampeter. Of these four, only UCL was founded on similar principles to the civic universities and may be considered proto-Red Brick - the other two did not grant the freedom of education to the poor and non-anglican that was the basis of the movement.

See also: