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George Birkbeck, the College’s founding father, opened the doors in 1823 with a vision to offer evening education to the working people of London.  Birkbeck was forged out of radical thinking – 2000 people tried to squeeze into a room in a pub on the Strand in response to Birkbeck’s advert in the Times promoting his vision of evening education for adults. His proposals triggered a hostile response from the government and media of the day.

“If you educate the sailor to the same level of the captain, what you will get is mutiny” said the first. “This man is sowing the seeds of evil in our society” said the second.

Modern-day Birkbeck, ‘London’s evening university’, now educates nearly 20,000 students from all backgrounds.  Our youngest is 18, our oldest graduated aged 102.

We are a College of the University of London and a world top 1% research-intensive university, yet we educate one of the most non-traditional student bodies in the UK. In 2007, we took our unique brand of part-time, evening education to east London and now have a brand new building there – University Square Stratford – shared with the University of East London.

‘What would George think’ if he were around today? He would be delighted with the achievements of the College he created and proud that it continues to champion the needs of non-traditional learners.