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Aberystwyth University was the first University institution to be founded in Wales.

Founded in 1872 and reliant almost entirely on donations obtained through extensive fund raising by staff and friends of the university. A number of generous donations were also made by the large non conformist community of Wales.

The university was for many years unsupported by the government. However in 1893 it joined with the universities of Bangor and Cardiff to become the University of Wales, and in the process helped to create a more formidable force in Welsh higher education which in turn allowed for greater access to funding from government.

Up until 2007, all students in attendance at the university were awarded their degrees from the University of Wales. However, the university became independent once again in 2007, and students joining since this date have all received degrees from Aberystwyth University.

During its initial period of independence from 1872 to 1893 students were actually prepared for and also sat exams delivered from the University of London, as Aberystwyth did not have its own exam papers.

Although Aberystwyth is the oldest university institution in Wales, St David’s College in Lampeter is considered to be the oldest degree awarding body in the country. Set up in 1822 it was however recognised as a college for many years, and only gained official university status after Aberystwyth had been founded.

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