One of the Trust’s early initiatives was to set up an Academic Development Committee, with a remit to establish York’s unique suitability as an academic centre and to work towards the foundation of a university. Within a short time, the Trust had established the Borthwick Institute for Historical Research, followed by the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, which built on the Committee’s courses in the conservation of historic buildings.
Such was the success of these enterprises that the Civic Trust created a separate organisation to look after them (the York Academic Trust). It was this Trust which opened negotiations with the University Grants Committee and in 1959 drew up the petition for a university in York, persuading the City of York Council to join it in this undertaking. Approval for the new university was given by government in 1960, and the Trust’s two institutes became part of the new University of York. As Eric Milner-White, one of the founders of the Trust, said on his appointment as Dean of York in 1941, “What a place for a university!”
The University has now become one of the UK’s ‘top ten’ universities. although at 15,000 students by no means the biggest. Here is a link to the University of York, which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2013, and a link to the Borthwick Institute for Historical Research