Foundation Day

The University of Manchester in its current form was created in 2004 by the amalgamation of the Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). We mark this occasion every October by celebrating our Foundation Day.

The event includes a ceremony at which we give honorary degrees to recipients from a range of fields in recognition of their achievements. This year’s recipients were Catherine Hall, Kevin Leeson, and Deborah Gold.

Foundation Day 2023: Social responsibility in action

Stream our new film, Foundation Day 2023: Social responsibility in action. As the first University to set social responsibility as a core goal, and the only Higher Education institution to consistently rank in the top ten for social and environmental impact, Manchester is making a difference locally, nationally and internationally. In this year’s film we explore how social responsibility is embedded in everything we do – from our teaching and learning, to research, community engagement activities and responsible campus operations. At the heart of our University is a commitment to improve the lives of people both here in Manchester, and across the world.

The year in review

We have seen many successes in the last 12 months and despite facing some ongoing, new and unexpected challenges, we continue to make good progress against the goals outline in Our future, the University’s vision and strategic plan.

Social responsibility

This year we were awarded the number one spot in the UK and Europe and second in the world in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. We are the only university globally to have consistently ranked within the top ten and it is testament to our ongoing commitment to social responsibility, one of our three core goals.

As we strengthened our support for those affected by the devastating war in Ukraine and with the cost of living crisis continuing in the UK, we came together to face new challenges – not least a significant cyber incident, and a UK-wide UCU marking and assessment boycott. Our future provides a strong framework to guide our responses.


Our University continues to be home to ground-breaking research, with major government funding secured across key areas including cancer treatment, advanced materials development and artificial intelligence. A new national prize for AI has been named in the University’s honour to mark the significance of ‘The Baby’, the world’s first stored program computer created here in 1948.

Knowledge exchange remains a key priority. We were pleased to see our work with intellectual property and commercialisation, research partnerships and public and community engagement recognised with the highest possible score in the latest Knowledge Exchange Framework, an annual assessment by Research England. Our results reflect the breadth of activity across our research, teaching and social responsibility, which is delivering benefits to society and the environment worldwide.   

We also welcomed the announcement that the UK has re-joined Horizon Europe, the EU’s £85 billion science research programme. This presents exciting opportunities for our researchers to secure funding and further their solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.  

Teaching and learning

The latest Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) assessment evaluated the overall quality of the University as a teaching provider, as well as the student experience and outcomes. We were rated silver overall, gold for student outcomes, and silver for our student experience. Gold for student outcomes is a well-deserved accolade for our hard-working graduates and pays tribute to our colleagues who help prepare students for meaningful careers nationally and across the globe.

This year the National Student Survey also delivered positive results for our courses, quality of teaching and Students’ Union, but showed that we need to improve on assessment and feedback and student voice. We will take this feedback forward and review what more can be done to enhance our offering and best serve students in future.  

Global influence

Our global reputation is a continuing source of pride – we have been awarded sixth place in the UK and eighth in Europe by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. We will also host the Times Higher Education World Academic Summit in 2024, bringing together leaders in higher education, research, industry and policymaking to debate and innovate solutions to pressing issues facing the world’s universities.  

Civic engagement

This year saw the reopening of the newly renovated Manchester Museum, welcoming tens of thousands of visitors in its first week. Its new co-created galleries and interactive shared spaces have been designed to build a greater understanding between cultures and promote the lived experiences of diverse populations across the world. In September a ceremony took place to mark the repatriation of 174 cultural heritage items to the Aboriginal Anindilyakwa community of Australia’s Northern Territory – a landmark project that has been three years in the making. 

We have also expanded our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, forming partnerships with the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation and the Raheem Sterling Foundation. Together, we will offer scholarships to talented Black British students to further equal access to higher education.  

Our people, our values

Our people are at the heart of all we do, and it is thanks to their passion, professionalism and commitment that we have achieved so much in the past academic year.

We continue to deliver change that is both responsible and sustainable. This includes the launch of our new Environmental Sustainability Strategy to engage our staff and students as part of our journey to zero carbon by 2038, which promises to bring transformative change to our campus and beyond.  

Wellbeing remains a priority, with an extensive mental health and financial support provision in place to help students and staff realise their potential – particularly in such challenging times and with the impact of a rising cost of living.