Our history

Students outside of universitySouthampton Solent University became a university in July 2005. Incorporated as an independent higher education institution in 1989, the University's origins can be traced back to a private School of Art founded in 1856. Mergers between Southampton College of Art, the College of Technology and the College of Nautical Studies at Warsash, laid the foundations for what is now Southampton Solent University.

The University is particularly well known for the distinctiveness and excellence of its provision in maritime courses, the creative industries and sport.

History of Solent
Year Event


A private School of Art was founded, based in the Victoria Rooms in Portland Terrace. The school occupied various premises around the city over the next 80+ years.


A public School of Navigation was established as part of Southampton University College (which later became the University of Southampton).


The School of Art was evacuated to Winchester.


The School of Art returned to the city and a prolonged period of temporary accommodation at the Deanery School in Marsh Lane.


The School of Navigation moved to Warsash.


The first stage of the East Park Terrace campus was built as the Southampton College of Technology and incorporated the Technical College. This building was renamed the R J Mitchell building in 1992.


The Technical College (now the Southampton City College) separated from the College of Technology.


The School of Navigation transferred to the Local Education Authority.


New premises for the School of Art, which later became known as the College of Art, were opened on East Park Terrace next to the College of Technology. The building was renamed the John Everett Millais building in 1996.


The College of Art and the College of Technology merged to form the Southampton College of Higher Education.


The School of Navigation at Warsash (later Warsash Maritime Centre) became part of the Southampton College of Higher Education and together they were renamed the Southampton Institute of Higher Education.


Southampton Institute was established as an independent Higher Education Corporation.

1993 -1996

Five new halls of residence opened.


The new Mountbatten Library on East Park Terrace and the Sir James Matthews Building on Above Bar were opened to enhance learning, teaching and conference facilities.


The Michael Andrews Building on East Park Terrace was opened by HRH the Princes Royal as a new reception, IT and administrative centre.


Southampton Institute became Southampton Solent University, with the then Principal, Professor Roger Brown, as its Vice-Chancellor.


The University acquired its first Chancellor, Sir Alan West GCB DSC (now Lord West GCB, DSC, PC, DUniv). The Warsash Maritime Centre became the Warsash Maritime Academy.


Professor Van Gore became Vice-Chancellor.


The University invested in significant estate projects. It acquired a 3.4 acre development site on East Park Terrace. The new Southampton Solent School of Art and Design opened in refurbished city-centre accommodation in Below Bar. A new gallery, Solent Showcase, opened in the Sir James Matthews building. Warsash Maritime Academy’s new Ship Handling Centre at Timsbury Lake was opened in the summer. New football facilities opened at Test Park.


Professor Graham Baldwin became Vice-Chancellor.