The University of Brighton adopted its university title in 1992, along with the UK's other former polytechnics. Brighton Polytechnic had been the product of a succession of mergers in the 1970s in Brighton and in Eastbourne but could trace its origins back to the middle of the nineteenth century in Brighton.
The constituent colleges which formed the polytechnic were Brighton College of Technology, Brighton College of Art and Design, Brighton College of Education and the East Sussex College of Higher Education.
Following a period of relative stability throughout the 1980s, the Sussex and Kent Institute of Nursing and Midwifery became part of the University of Brighton in 1994.
In 2003, the university opened the Brighton and Sussex Medical School run jointly with the University of Sussex and the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust.
Simultaneously, the University Centre Hastings was opened in collaboration with SEEDA. Until 2009, the university acted as manager of this higher education centre, drawing courses from a range of HE providers. In September 2009 University Centre Hastings was incorporated into the University of Brighton, as the university had become the sole provider of courses there.
In May 2004, the university was subject to Institutional Audit by the QAA and received a very positive report. Throughout the programme of subject reviews in recent years, the QAA found excellent teaching, learning and student support in all of the subjects considered.
In the recent inspection by OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education), the university's primary and secondary initial teacher education provision was given the highest possible rating.
Results from the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) have confirmed that 79 per cent of the university's research output is of international standing. Taking the top three grades, the results show that 15 per cent of the research is 'world-leading' (the highest grade), 29 per cent is internationally excellent (the second highest grade) and 35 per cent is internationally recognised (the third highest grade).
The university has three campuses in Brighton, three significant concentrations of activity in Eastbourne, and from September 2011 a two-building campus in Hastings
In Brighton, at Falmer, work in teacher education, languages, the social sciences, nursing and medicine is located; at Moulsecoomb, activity in science and engineering, computing, mathematics, information sciences, architecture and business; and at Grand Parade, in the city centre, work in art and design.
In Eastbourne, the university offers courses in sports science, physical education, service management, physiotherapy, podiatry and occupational therapy.
In Hastings, degrees in social science, broadcast media, business, computing, education and a wide range of joint honours courses are available. The university organises its academic work into five faculties, each comprises three academic schools.
The Brighton and Sussex Medical School forms a sixth academic unit, and is also a school within the University of Sussex.
The university enrols of the order of 21,000 students each year with a significant concentration on full-time undergraduates and a growing number of taught postgraduates and research students. A staff of over 2,800 includes around 750 academic and research staff. A range of central departments provide library and information services, sport and recreation provision, accommodation, personal counselling and other student support services across the university's campuses.