The Royal Agricultural University (RAU), formerly the Royal Agricultural College, is a university in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England. Established in 1845, it was the first agricultural college in the English-speaking world. The university provides more than 30 land-based undergraduate and postgraduate programmes to students from over 45 countries through the School of Agriculture, the School of Business and Entrepreneurship, the School of Equine and the School of Real Estate and Land Management.
Royal Agricultural University
Latin: Arvorum Cultus Pecorumque; (from Virgil's Georgics) "Caring for the Fields and the Beasts"
The Royal Agricultural University was founded as the Royal Agricultural College in 1842, at a meeting of the Fairford and Cirencester Farmers’ Club. Concerned by the lack of government support for education, Robert Jeffreys-Brown addressed the meeting on "The Advantages of a Specific Education for Agricultural Pursuits". A prospectus was circulated, a general committee was appointed and Henry Bathurst, 4th Earl Bathurst was elected president. Funds were raised by public subscription: much of the support came from the wealthy landowners and farmers of the day, and there was no government support. Construction of the main building, in Victorian Tudor style, began in April 1845 and was designed by S. W. Daukes and John R. Hamilton, and built by Thomas Bridges of Cirencester. The first 25 students were admitted to the college in September 1845.
The college gained full university status in 2013 and changed its name accordingly. It had 1,125 students in the 2019/20 academic year and saw a 49% rise in applications between 2008 and 2013. The Royal Agricultural University was named the safest university in the South West in 2013, and is ranked top in the UK for spending on facilities.
The university operates two farms close to the campus:
Coates Manor Farm is predominantly arable cropped with some pasture land.
Fossehill Farm provides polo and hunter livery stabling and associated exercise facilities.
Harnhill Manor Farm was purchased in 2009 and with Coates Manor Farm totals 491 hectares (1223 acres) of land. The farm was managed organically for many years but all the land apart from the outdoor-pig unit was taken out of organic management. In 2011, an old sheep shed at the front of the farm complex was turned into the 'John Oldacre Rural Innovation Centre' a building designed for the training of students and members of the public in vocational skills such as rough-terrain forklift truck driving, blacksmithing, chainsaw and welding course, etc. The building cost £1.2 Million to transform. The RIC was officially opened in March 2014 by Sir John Beddington and the site was visited in November 2013 by Prince Charles.
The university has a range of sports facilities on campus, including a gym, an all-weather pitch, and squash and tennis courts. Students participate in a wide range of sports including; clay pigeon shooting, cricket, equestrian, field sports (hunting, fishing and shooting), football, golf, lacrosse, hockey, netball, polo, rugby, rifle shooting, rowing, tennis and yachting.
The Royal Agricultural University is just one of three remaining British universities (the others being the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford) to maintain their own beagle pack. Founded in 1889, the RAC Beagles is run by the students who whip in and hunt the hounds, and until the 2004 hunting ban, hunted hares in the countryside around Cirencester.
In the REF 2014, the university came 29th and last in the UK for Agriculture.
Some of the staff have been evaluated in the Research Assessment Exercise which recognised the importance of their research at national and, to a lesser extent, international levels.
The university library holds around 40,000 print volumes, nearly 1,000 current journal subscriptions, more than 40,000 e-books and a growing number of full-text databases. The main collection is supplemented by a support collection and a historical collection of texts, primarily on agriculture and estate/land management, dating back to the 16th century. The library also holds the RAU archive, a collection of documents relating to the institution since its foundation.
John Scott, on the staff shortly from 1880, later became known as a tractor pioneer.
Sir Emrys Jones, former chief adviser to the Minister of Agriculture from 1967 to 1973, and director of the Government's Agricultural and Development Advisory Service (ADAS), was principal of the college from 1973 until 1978. He described his time at Cirencester as the most enjoyable period in his life. In 2011, a new teaching facility at the college was named in his honour. For university applicants with a connection to Wales, a scholarship has been set up that carries the former principal's name.
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