The University of Sheffield developed from three local institutions: the Sheffield School of Medicine, Firth College and the Sheffield Technical School. The School of Medicine, founded 1828, was by far the oldest. Its early history was very insecure and it was saved from collapse by the opening of Firth College, which took over the teaching of all basic science subjects to medical students.
Firth College was one of a group of university colleges founded in the later 19th century. It developed out of the Cambridge University Extension Movement, a scheme designed to bring university teaching to the large towns and cities of England, most of which lacked any university provision. The success of these courses in Sheffield led Mark Firth, a local steel manufacturer, to establish the College in 1879 as a centre for teaching Arts and Science subjects.
Academic excellence at Sheffield
The University of Sheffield is an international leader in teaching and research. Recent surveys put the University of Sheffield in the top ten of universities in the UK and the top 100 in the world (QS World University Rankings).
Find out more about our ranking
The quality of teaching in UK universities is rigorously assessed by the British Government’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).
The annual National Student Survey gathers undergraduate feedback on their experiences. The 2013 survey ranked Sheffield fourth in the Russell Group for its excellent learning experience with an overall satisfaction score of 90 per cent.
The strength of research activity in UK university departments is assessed in the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The latest results were published in December 2014 by panels of independent experts from universities, industry and commerce.
The results confirm the University’s position among the top ten in the Russell Group, the association of leading UK research-intensive universities. The Research Excellence Framework puts Sheffield in the top 10 per cent of all UK universities. 99% of research at Sheffield was assessed as internationally recognised or better.
Find out more about our research
Nobel Prize winners
The University of Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners associated with the University. The most recent of these was in 1996 when Sir Harry Kroto won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for discovering a new form of carbon.