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Chelsea College of Science & Technology, 1957-1971

Chemistry laboratory at Chelsea College of Science & Technology, c1970 (Ref: C/PH3/2)Chemistry laboratory at Chelsea College of Science & Technology, c1970 (Ref: C/PH3/2)In 1963, the Robbins Report recognised the standing of Chelsea as an educational institution and gave the College full university status. As a result, from 1966 Chelsea College of Science and Technology became a designated School of the University of London.

The 1960's and 70's were a period of considerable student unrest, both at Chelsea and throughout UK universities. For many years university government had been in the hands of a few individuals, principally senior staff. However in the mid 1960’s this autonomy was questioned for the first time by students and staff. Chelsea was at the forefront of this movement and was keen to encourage student participation in governance as a natural progression rather than as a result of militant action.

A draft university Charter therefore proposed a more democratic constitution of University Senate and Council, which was quite forward-thinking for the time and which represented a more liberal approach than that adopted by the majority of universities. In 1968 representatives of the Students’ Union attended meetings of the Governing Body and Academic Board as observers. From 1969, non-teaching staff were also invited to join the Governing Body.

Library at Chelsea College of Science & Technology, 1960s (Ref: C/PH4/16)Library at Chelsea College of Science & Technology, 1960s (Ref: C/PH4/16)Additional student activity followed in 1976 when government increases in tuition fees led to mass student protests at Chelsea, including a four-day occupation of the Registry and Finance Offices, in common with many other educational institutions at the time. The occupation caused considerable disruption to work in the offices concerned, and a rapid solution was therefore reached whereby the College Council agreed to make funds available for cases of hardship, so that no student should be forced to abandon their studies because they were financially unable to meet the increase in fees.

This period also saw several campus developments at Chelsea, including the opening of a new North Wing in 1958. In 1969 the Department of Botany and Zoology moved to new premises in Hortensia Road and, in Fulham, the Centre for Science Education took over the new Bridges Place Annexe. The Computer Unit and laboratories for Electronic and Physics were relocated to Pulton Place.

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