Our history: the 2000s

The new Millennium saw a sea-change in the way that Britain viewed higher education.

Unprecedented student numbers in universities and strong investment, was coupled with increasing regulation, compliance issues and requirements to demonstrate societal and economic impact.

Student debt, quality assurance, Freedom of Information and public scrutiny changed the way in which both academic departments and central support for the University’s mission operated.


Technology also moved fast, with "YorkWeb" becoming a major marketing tool, the introduction of a Virtual Learning Environment, and new ways of communicating with students and stakeholders through SMS, Facebook and on-campus electronic screens. We installed wi-fi across campus, video-conferencing and a range of online services.

Campus became more sophisticated, with en-suite accommodation, significantly upgraded catering, shops and better-equipped offices, teaching facilities and laboratories.

A local and global community

York Students in SchoolsIn response to government prompting on interacting with the community, hundreds of students volunteered for York Students in Schools and Millennium Volunteers. The University became heavily involved in significant partnerships for a variety of projects - Science City York with the Council; Higher York with York's colleges; the Hull York Medical School with the University of Hull. The science park thrived.

The two major policy initiatives for York in this time were the concerted effort to "internationalise" the University and its work, and the establishment of the extended campus at what became known as Heslington East.

Internationally, we were founder members of the Worldwide Universities Network, a group of 19 research universities spread across the globe, which has tackled a range of ‘global challenges’ with its huge network of expertise. Strong relationships were developed with universities in China and the US, and we established The University of York in America. Our recruitment of international students rose rapidly, and York students began to participate in Study Abroad schemes.

Oral history: York Sport President

Carrying the Olympic torch was the final student career highlight for Sam Asfahani, York Sport President 2010-2012. "Coming to York opened my eyes to the world," he says.

Listen to the full interview

Heslington East

The planning for Heslington East began in earnest in 2002 with the arrival of Brian Cantor as Vice-Chancellor. It took years of master-planning, liaison with interest groups, negotiations with land-owners and local communities, an 8-hour city planning meeting and a Public Inquiry to achieve the purchase of land and complex planning permissions for a site equal to the size of the original Heslington West campus. In 2009, the new Goodricke College opened as the first building on Heslington East.

At the time of the 40th anniversary in 2003, we wrote about Heslington East: "it will be everything that the designers of the original campus hoped for - integrated, landscaped and traffic-free, with a large expanse of water, and a very eager populace."

In 2012, those hopes have been fulfilled.

Photos from the 2000s



Professor Sir Ron Cooke

1993 - 2002
Professor Sir Ron Cooke

Professor Brian Cantor

2002 -
Professor Brian Cantor


Dame Janet Baker

1991 - 2004
Dame Janet Baker

Greg Dyke

2004 -
Greg Dyke

Students' Union Presidents

2000/01 Ben Youdan
2001/02 Ffion Evans
2002/03 Tom Connor
2003/04 Chris Jones
2004/05 James Alexander
2005/06 Mickey Armstrong
2006/07 Rich Croker
2007/08 Anne Marie Canning
2008/09 Tom Scott
2009/10 Tim Ngwena
2010/11 Tim Ngwena
2011/12 Tim Ellis
2012/13 Kallum Taylor