Nottingham's first civic college was opened in the city centre in 1881, four years after the foundation stone was laid by former prime minister, W E Gladstone. This achievement was made possible by an anonymous benefactor who had offered £10,000 for a college on condition that a suitable building be erected by the Council and that the college should be endowed with £4,000 a year.
After the First World War, the college expanded rapidly and outgrew its original building. A generous gift by Sir Jesse Boot, of 35 acres of land at Highfields, presented the solution. The land was to be devoted to the College but was also to be a place of recreation for the people of Nottingham, a value that is still held today as visitors freely enjoy the landscaped woodlands and parks that were created on the site.
In 1928 the College moved to what is now the main campus, University Park. Initially, it was accommodated in the elegant Trent Building, with its distinctive tower, and was officially opened by King George V in November of that year. An endowment fund was set up to support the further development of the site and to provide new courses and scholarships.
Even in its early days on this site, the College attracted high profile visiting lecturers including Professor Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi and H G Wells.
The Second World War brought changes to the College. Although the only building to suffer bomb damage was the original city centre site, the government's "dig for victory" campaign saw the carefully-tended lawns at Highfields given over to food production.
In 1948, the college was awarded the Royal Charter, becoming The University of Nottingham and now able to confer degrees in its own name.
During this period, the Institute of Education was founded and the School of Agriculture was established when the Midland College of Agriculture at Sutton Bonington merged with the University.
Since then, the University has continued to grow. The Medical School, the first to be established in the 20th century, opened in 1970 and, in 1995, the School of Nursing was formed following the merger of the Mid-Trent College of Nursing and Midwifery.
The £50 million Jubilee Campus development opened in 1999 and subsequently the prestigious National College for School Leadership has been co-located on the campus.
Recent developments have been even more ambitious, with an overseas campus opened in Malaysia in 1999 and the more recent launch of The University of Nottingham in China. Both locations have new purpose-built campuses under development.