The New University of Ulster (NUU) incorporated Magee College founded in 1865 in Derry. Magee College was a college of the Royal University of Ireland from 1880 and later became associated with the University of Dublin (better known as Trinity College) when the Royal University was dissolved in 1908 and replaced by the National University of Ireland. In 1953 Magee College broke its links with Dublin and became Magee University College. NUU was instigated as part of Her Majesty's Government's expansion of higher education in the 1960s.
In 1963, the Robbins Committee recommended a substantial expansion of higher education in Great Britain, partly triggered by the Anderson Report of 1960, which increased consumer demand by instigating a grants scheme. In the same year, a committee of eight chaired by Sir John Lockwood, Master of Birkbeck College, London, was appointed to review facilities for university and higher technical education in Northern Ireland. It adopted the aims and principles of Robbins, but aimed to take account of the different economic, social and educational structure of Northern Ireland.