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Department of Economics and the International Growth Centre, LSE| ©Boilingfruit /Wikicommons
Department of Economics and the International Growth Centre, LSE| ©Boilingfruit /Wikicommons
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Things You Didn't Know About The London School Of Economics

Picture of Harriet Clugston
Updated: 11 January 2017
Once considered the poor relation of the likes of King’s College and University College London, the London School of Economics and Political Science has climbed to the top of the tables. Today, not only is it ranked as one of the best universities in the United Kingdom, but also numbers among the best in the world, and has produced a plethora of heads of state and government, Nobel Laureates, and other venerable figures. Here we run through some of the more interesting, little-known facts about this prestigious university, including a surprising socialist past.

It teaches more than just economics and politics

You might be surprised to know that, in spite of its name, LSE teaches a wide range of subjects beyond the two it is most associated with. The university’s motto is rerum cognoscere causas, or ‘to know the cause of things’; a range of social sciences across 20 departments (including media, philosophy, history, anthropology, and sociology) are organised around a central thesis, seeing ‘to promote the impartial pursuit of knowledge and understanding about how people organise themselves into, and interact within, social groupings’. It is the only UK university dedicated to the social sciences.

Old building, LSE |©Umezo KAMATA/Wikicommons
Old building, LSE | ©Umezo KAMATA/Wikicommons

It houses the world’s largest social science and political library

LSE, as you might expect from one of the world’s leading social science universities, is home to the world’s biggest social science and political library — the British Library of Political and Economic Science. Housing four and a half million separate items on 52 kilometres of shelving, the library is also the UK’s second largest single entity library, behind the British Library. LSE also runs the Women’s Library, having acquired it in 2013, which documents the British women’s movement from the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition, the library houses a museum collection which holds a selection of suffragette memorabilia as well as modern day campaign items.

#lse #lselibrary #london #blackandwhite

A photo posted by George Kapraras (@gkapraras) on

It was founded to promote democratic socialism

LSE was founded by Sidney Webb, Beatrice Webb, Graham Wallas, and George Bernard Shaw, key members of the Fabian Society. A socialist organisation, the purpose of the Fabian Society has been to promote the principles and further the aims of democratic socialism through a reformist rather than revolutionary approach — they would later become one of the founding organisations and major stimuli of the Labour Party. LSE was founded using money left in trust by Henry Hutchinson, a Fabian Society member, intended to go towards advancing the objects of the Fabian Society in any way the trustees saw fit.

It has educated the most billionaires in Europe

Standing more than a little at odds with its socialist origins, former students of London School of Economics have an incredible record of going on to become billionaires in later life. A 2014 global census of billionaires conducted by Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census showed that LSE had educated the most billionaires of any other European institution, with 11 billionaire undergraduate alumni. In fact, LSE ranked 10th in the world, and was the only European university in the Top 20. Ironic, no?

One of the most Instagrammed spots on campus! #LSE – thanks for sharing @shounaksen1988

A photo posted by London School of Economics (@londonschoolofeconomics) on

Highest percentage of international students in Britain

LSE has an extraordinarily international outreach. With 70 percent of its student body being made up of international students, LSE ranked number two in the world in this year’s Times Higher Education rankings for universities with the most international students. Currently, LSE has students from over 150 countries, and at one point in its history its student population was made up of more representative countries than in the United Nations.