The University of London is a federal research university located in London, England. As of October 2019, the university contains 18 member institutions, central academic bodies, and research institutes. The university has over 52,000 distance learning external students and 161,270 campus-based internal students, making it the largest university by a number of students in the United Kingdom.
The university was established by royal charter in 1836, as a degree-awarding examination board for students holding certificates from University College London and King’s College London and “other such other Institutions, corporate or unincorporated, as shall be established for the purpose of Education, whether within the Metropolis or elsewhere within our the United Kingdom”, allowing it to be one of three institutions to claim the title of the third-oldest university in England, and moved to a federal structure in 1900. It is now incorporated by its fourth (1863) royal charter and governed by the University of London Act 2018. It was the first university in the United Kingdom to introduce examinations for women in 1869 and, a decade later, the first to admit women to degrees. In 1948 it became the first British university to appoint a woman as its vice-chancellor (chief executive). The university’s member institutions house the oldest teaching hospitals in England.