Our history

Since we opened our doors to students in 1965, we have been leaders in musculoskeletal healthcare; providing the world with professionals who are enthusiastic, equipped and ready to make a difference.

Helping you to help others

Since we opened our doors to students in 1965, we have been leaders in musculoskeletal healthcare; providing the world with professionals who are enthusiastic, equipped and ready to make a difference. As the first chiropractic college in Europe our success is built on a commitment to excellence. 

Becoming a University College and gaining Taught Degree Awarding Powers is a credit to our continuous drive in innovation and growth. It is our pioneering spirit, collaborative approach and care for our students, staff and community that allows us to continue to challenge and shape the future of health sciences.

September 1, 1965
The College opens its doors

Definite steps to set up a European chiropractic school were taken in 1960 when the Anglo-European College of Chiropractice was registered as a limited company. Three chiropractors, Robert Beech, Donald Bennett and Elizabeth Bennett were vital to the venture. Following the purchase of a property in Bournemouth, the AECC opened in September 1965.

September 1, 1966
Introducing a four-year programme of study

By the end of the first term there were eighteen students studying at the AECC: ten from Britain, three from Denmark, three from France, one from Belgium and one from New Zealand. In 1966 the College purchased a second building in Cavendish Road. The programme was four years in length and required full-time attendance. It was modelled on courses offered by North American chiropractic schools. On successful completion of their training students were to receive a diploma from the School and a ‘Doctor of Chiropractic’ award, a qualification which was understood within the chiropractic community, but which was not recognised by the British university system.

September 1, 1972
A change in name

The AECC University College was initially named the Anglo-European College of Chiropractice, rather than as the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic, because the word ‘chiropractice’ was thought to be more English. In 1969 the ‘e’ was dropped from ‘chiropractice’ in the title of the School, in line with the preferred nomenclature of the British Chiropractors’ Association. There were ten graduates from the AECC in 1970, twelve in 1971, and eighteen in 1972. Increasingly the AECC was to become the main centre for the training of European chiropractors, attracting students from across the continent. Strong links with the BCA and with the ECU helped to raise the profile of the School.

September 1, 1982
New buildings and a new home

By the mid-1970s the AECC was running out of space for development in its buildings at Cavendish Road. New buildings were needed. Various options were explored before a successful bid was made for the purchase of Boscombe Convent following a merger of local Catholic schools. Chiropractors rallied behind the move and helped to provide financial support for it. Buildings can influence an observer’s opinion of an organisation. The new buildings at Parkwood Road were a significant improvement on what had gone before. The stone construction of the main building, dating from 1888, looked impressive and presented a positive image for the School. The new premises were officially opened in 1982.

September 1, 1986
Education, research and clinical care

With newly acquired buildings and room for expansion, the curriculum and the resources that supported it were developed. The library came to be housed in what had previously been a chapel and the teaching clinic in what had once been a noviciates’ house. Undergraduate students studying at the AECC had always been expected to carry out a research project as part of their training, but in 1986 a research department was established to support and develop post-graduate research. Education, research and clinical care were, and remain to this day, the main focuses of activity at the AECC University College.

1988 - 1992
First of its kind

In 1988 the Council for National Academic Awards agreed to validate a Bachelor of Science degree. We became the first school in the field of complementary and alternative healthcare to offer such a validated degree course.

In 1990, our twenty-fifth anniversary year HRH Diana, Princess of Wales, became our Patron and in 1992 we became the first school to be accredited by the newly formed European Council on Chiropractic Education.

1992 - 1997
Masters degrees

The Council for National Academic Awards was decommissioned in 1992 as part of reforms to the university sector and we were obliged to find a new validating authority for its degree. Following the Chiropractors Act of 1994, in response to perceived need for formal postgraduate education, we introduced a postgraduate MSc Clinical Chiropractic. In 1997 the undergraduate course was upgraded from Bachelors to Masters level - both were validated by the University of Portsmouth.

1998 - 2000
Statutory regulation

The Chiropractors Act called for the formation of a General Chiropractic Council (GCC) to regulate chiropractic in Britain, including the education of chiropractors. That body came into existence in 1998. During 2000, the GCC examined the courses offered by six schools providing undergraduate training for chiropractors in Britain, with the aim of ensuring high standards of education. Of the six schools, we are one of just three which continue to offer courses accredited by the GCC. 

2005 - 2008
Developments in education

In 2005 we entered into an agreement with Bournemouth University (BU) to validate our degrees which allowed for public funding of undergraduate chiropractic education. In the twenty-first century an increasing variety of postgraduate courses to support the continuing professional development of chiropractors have professional doctorates. A broadening educational focus saw the introduction of new healthcare subjects other than chiropractic. 

MSc Advanced Professional Practice courses were first BU validated in 2006. Prior to this they were validated by University of Portsmouth. 

With the growing realisation that the next generation could be the first to live shorter lives than the one before due to inactivity; the government launched an initiative to promote a healthy population. We launched the BSc Clinical Exercise Science course, delivered in conjunction with Bournemouth University, in response to this in 2007. The course offered students the chance to gain clinical competence in the fitness industry and knowledge of contemporary research relating to exercise. 

MSc Medical Ultrasound was BU validated in 2008 and Consortium for Accreditation of Sonographic Education accredited from 2009 onwards.

2009 - 2012
Advance in research

Research aims to contribute new knowledge to experimental, clinical and educational fields, especially in relation to the understanding of musculoskeletal health. Our research activity has focused on areas such as diagnostic imaging, patient-reported outcome measures, the assessment of movement and function, and clinical education.

In 2012, the introduction of the Access to Higher Education Diploma enabled us to offer both prospective students without the necessary grades to go straight to university and people looking to retrain the opportunity to move in to healthcare or further study.

2015 - 2016
Enhancements to clinical care

We opened a new purpose-built teaching clinic in 2009, offering a range of facilities to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate patients with musculoskeletal conditions. As well as thirty-two treatment rooms, an exercise centre and x-ray suite, an open upright MRI scanner was added to the clinic complex. The availability of digital x-ray, video fluoroscopy, diagnostic ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging provides an outstanding collection of imaging modalities. More than 50,000 treatments are currently provided at AECC University College's Chiropractic Clinic each year.

We built a University College!

As a result of the institution’s hard work, the former College gained Taught Degree Awarding Powers, and in turn University College status. These achievements indicate a mature institution, and one that no longer requires another higher education institution to validate the courses it offers. 

The rapid progress of the newly named institution provided an opportunity to be clear about what sets the AECC University College apart, particularly in a very competitive marketplace, and to also emphasise its position within the higher education sector.