Reading university

University of Reading
Established 1892
Type Public
Endowment £71.64 million (2008/09)[1]
Chancellor Sir John Madejski
Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell
Visitor Her Majesty the Queen
Admin. staff 4,024
Students 22,805[2]
Undergraduates 12,683[2]
Postgraduates 10,122[2]
Location Reading, Berkshire, England, UK
Former names University College, Reading (1892–1926)
Colours Royal purple and white

The University of Reading is a public research university in Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom. The University was established in 1892 as University College, Reading and received its Royal Charter in 1926. It is based on several campuses in, and around, the town of Reading.

The University has a long tradition of research, education and training at a local, national and international level. It offers traditional degrees alongside less usual and other vocationally relevant ones. It was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 1998, 2005, 2009, and again in 2011. It is one of the ten most research intensive universities in the UK and ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world by THE.[3]


The University owes its first origins to the Schools of Art and Science established in Reading in 1860 and 1870. In 1892 the College at Reading was founded as an extension college by Christ Church, a college of the University of Oxford. The first President was the geographer Sir Halford John Mackinder.[4] The Schools of Art and Science were transferred to the new college by Reading Town Council in the same year.[5][6]

The new college received its first treasury grant in 1901. Three years later it was given a site, now the university's London Road Campus, by the Palmer family of Huntley & Palmers fame. The same family supported the opening of Wantage Hall in 1908, and of the Research Institute in Dairying in 1912.[5]

The college first applied for a Royal Charter in 1920 but was unsuccessful at that time. However a second petition, in 1925, was successful, and the charter was officially granted on 17 March 1926. With the charter, the college became the University of Reading, the only new university to be created in England between the two world wars.[5]

In 1947 the University purchased Whiteknights Park, which was to become its principal campus. In 1984 the University started a merger with Bulmershe College of Higher Education, which was completed in 1989.[5][7][8]

In October 2006, the Senior Management Board proposed[9] the closure of its Physics Department to future undergraduate application. This was ascribed to financial reasons and lack of alternative ideas and caused considerable controversy, not least a debate in Parliament[10] over the closure which prompted heated discussion of higher education issues in general.[11] On 10 October the Senate voted to close the Department of Physics, a move confirmed by the Council on 20 November.[12] Other departments closed in recent years include Music, Sociology, Geology, and Mechanical Engineering. The university council decided in March 2009 to close the School of Health and Social Care, a school whose courses have consistently been oversubscribed.[13][14]

In January 2008, the University announced its merger with the Henley Management College to create the university's new Henley Business School, bringing together Henley College's expertise in MBAs with the University's existing Business School and ICMA Centre. The merger took formal effect on 1 August 2008, with the new business school split across the university's existing Whiteknights Campus and its new Greenlands Campus that formerly housed Henley Management College.[15][16]

A restructuring of the university was announced in September 2009, which would bring together all the academic schools into three faculties, these being the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social sciences, and Henley Business School. The move was predicted to result in the loss of some jobs, especially in the film, theatre and television department, which will shortly be moving into a brand new £11.5 million building on Whiteknights Campus.[17]

In late 2009 it was announced that the London Road Campus was to undergo a £30 million renovation, preparatory to becoming the new home of the university's Institute of Education. This is planned for completion in the summer of 2011, and is being partially funded by the sale of the adjoining site of Mansfield Hall, a former hall of residence, for demolition and replacement by private sector student accommodation.[18]

The university is a lead sponsor of UTC Reading, a new university technical college which will open in September 2013.[19]


The University maintains over 1.6 square kilometres (395 acres) of grounds, in four distinct campuses:

  • Whiteknights Campus, at 1.3 square kilometres (321 acres),[20] is the largest and includes Whiteknights Lake, conservation meadows and woodlands as well as most of the University's departments. The campus takes its name from the nickname of the 13th century knight, John De Erleigh IV or the 'White Knight', and was landscaped in the 18th century by Marquis of Blandford. The main University library, in the middle of the campus, holds nearly a million books and subscribes to around 4,000 periodicals.
  • The smaller London Road Campus is the original University site and is closer to the town centre of Reading. The London Road site forms the base for the majority of the university's extramural and distance learning activities, and is home to the Centre for Continuing Education and the Professional Management Programmes as well as the Museum of English Rural Life. Moreover, it plays host to the University graduation ceremonies twice a year, in the Great Hall. London Road is currently undergoing extensive renovation to allow a number of departments to move from Bulmershe from 2011.
  • The Bulmershe Court Campus in Woodley is the site of the former Bulmershe Teaching College, which merged with The University of Reading in 1989. The campus is now the home of The Institute of Education and the Department of Film, Theatre and Television, alongside the Bulmershe site of Students’ Union, Breeze Bar, and Bulmershe Hall of Residences. It also has the largest hall of residence of the University. Furthermore, the campus hosts a range of the University's home sporting fixtures, including football, basketball and American Football. Bulmershe is currently due for closure in 2011 with departments moving to either London Road or Whiteknights Campuses.
  • The Greenlands Campus, on the banks of the River Thames in Buckinghamshire. Once the home of William Henry Smith, son of the founder of WH Smith, and latterly the site of the Henley Management College, this campus became part of the university on 1 August 2008, with the merger of that college with the university's Business School to form the Henley Business School. The school's MBA and corporate learning offerings will be based at Greenlands, with undergraduate and other postgraduate courses being based at Whiteknights.[16]

The University also owns 8.5 square kilometres (2,100 acres) of farmland in the nearby villages of Arborfield, Sonning and Shinfield. These support a mixed farming system including dairy cows, ewes and beef animals, and host research centres of which the flagship is the Centre for Dairy Research.

As part of the proposed Whiteknights Development Plan in Autumn 2007, the University proposed spending up to £250 million on its estates over 30 years, principally to focus academic activities onto the Whiteknights site.[21] The University also intends to site some functions on the London Road site, with a complete withdrawal from Bulmershe Court proposed by 2012.

In October 2012, the University administration announced plans to establish its first overseas campus in Malaysia. The project will be overseen by Professor Tony Downes.[22][23]


In the Research Assessment Exercise in 2001, five departments were awarded the top rate of 5* – Archaeology, English, Italian, Meteorology and Psychology, and fifteen departments were awarded the rating of 5. In the government’s 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) the School of Law was ranked equal 11th in the UK across the assessment of all its research, and equal 7th based on the high percentage of its research rated as 4* (‘world leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’). In the wake of the 2008 RAE, the university saw a cut of £4m (19%) in its recurrent research funding, the largest cut among the 1994 Group of British universities.[24]

The Department of Meteorology was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2005. Reading was the first university to win a Queen's Award for Export Achievement, in 1989.
(2013, national)
(2013, world)
(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2014, national)
The Guardian[29]
(2014, national)
Times/Sunday Times[30]
(2014, national)


In the 2004–05 academic year, the university had 4,024 staff and 15,326 students.

Reading University Students' Union is the affiliated student organisation which represents the students' interests. The university also has a number of Junior Common Rooms that are linked to the Students' Union. The Students' Union has been the launch pad for many political careers including Penny Mordaunt (MP for Portsmouth North) who was the 1994-5 President of the Students' Union.

The Students' Union runs the student radio station RU:ON.

The Students' Union building on Whiteknights Campus contains an 1800 capacity venue called 3sixty, two bars, a number of retail outlets, and The Hub. The Hub is the Union's new volunteer, advice, student activity centre, cost around £1.8m and was officially opened in March 2007 by Bill Rammell MP, Minister for Higher Education.

The University of Reading has around 80 societies open to and run by its students. The University of Reading Debating Society has since its foundation in 1993 aimed to be one of the best university debating teams in the UK, and to accomplish this it is increasing both the number of teams and competitions that it enters within the UK and internationally. There are plans to create a team to take part in the French language debates held in the UK and in Paris. It is also planniing on re-instigating the inter-hall debating competition. The Law Society is perhaps one of the most active societies, organising an annual ball, talks, a trip abroad, several socials a term, pro bono activities and the annual Osborne Clarke Mooting Competition, the final of which, in 2013, was held in the Supreme Court and judged by Lord Kerr. The AIESEC team from the University of Reading have won a range of National AIESEC UK awards for excellence over recent years, making them one of the most successful AIESEC committees in the UK. In 1995-6 they were the best in the UK, and since then they have consistently been one of the most successful committees in the UK and Europe.

University halls and accommodation

Student accommodation is provided in a number of halls of residence offering a mix of partially catered (19 meals per week) and self-catering accommodation, along with other self-catering accommodation. Following a major review the University is now preceding with the integrated Halls and Catering Strategy, that will see several halls replaced as well as new ones created with social, catering & welfare facilities provided in hub areas.[31] Most of the halls of residence lie close to the northern campus periphery and in residential areas close by.

Halls are managed in groups which are Lakeside (Bridges, Bulmershe & Wessex), Northcourt (Sherfield, Benyon and St Patrick's Hall) ), Park (Greenow, McCombie, MacKinder, Stenton, Windsor and Dunsden Crescent), Redlands (Hillside, Martindale, St. George's, Wells and Wantage) and Estates Management (35 Upper Redlands Road, Mansfield and St. David's).

In 2011 the management of the mature and international halls, Hillside and Martindale, was taken over by the "Estates management team". In the same year the new Kendrick Halls were opened, this were on the ground of halls which had not been in use for many years. These are not managed by the university.

The former St. Andrews Hall closed in 2001, and is now the home of the Museum of English Rural Life.[32]

St. George's Hall and The Reading Student Village are leased back to the University from UPP. The cost of leasing back the Student Village to the University, according to the University accounts, was £1.5 million for 2003–04 and £1.3 million in 2002–03.

Museums, libraries and botanical gardens

Reading University maintains four museums, a main campus library, a range of inter-departmental libraries, and a botanical garden. The largest and best known of these museums is the Museum of English Rural Life, which has recently relocated from a location on Whiteknights Campus to a site nearer the town centre on the London Road Campus. The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, the Cole Museum of Zoology, the University of Reading Herbarium and the Harris Garden are all on the Whiteknights Campus.

The Whiteknights Main Library holds catalogue of over 1.2 million books, as well as a range of electronic resources, videos and archives, in 14,000 square metres of public space on five floors of resources, a maintenance floor, entrance plaza and the Knowledge Exchange. The secondary library at the University's Bulmershe Campus is no longer in operation and its collections have been transferred to the Whiteknights Main Library. There is also a library in the University's Meteorology department.

Working with business

Reading hosts a number of private sector businesses on its campuses, either occupying dedicated buildings or in managed space at the Science & Technology Centre or Enterprise Hub.

Science & Technology Centre

The University of Reading Science & Technology Centre is situated on the eastern side of Whiteknights Campus. The Science & Technology Centre supports and accommodates technology companies from start-up through to larger SMEs.[33][34][35]

The following notable companies are based at, or have been based at, the Science & Technology Centre:[36][37]

Reading Enterprise Hub

Reading Enterprise Hub is a business incubator opened in 2003. The hub was jointly sponsored by the university and SEEDA, and sought to attract startup high tech companies, particularly those with interests in environmental technology, information technology, life sciences, and materials science.[38]

The hub was originally situated in World War II era temporary office buildings on the university's Whiteknights campus. During the summer of 2008 the hub was demolished, along with the neighbouring former agriculture buildings, and the remaining tenants relocated to a building on the London Road campus. As of April 2010, a new Reading Enterprise Centre is being constructed on the hub's original site.[39]

Dedicated buildings

Besides its use of the Science & Technology Centre, Reading Scientific Services also occupies the Reading Science Centre, situated on the western side of Whiteknights campus.[40]


Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science

  • School of Arts and Communication Design
    • Department of Art
    • Department of Film, Theatre and Television
    • Department of Typography and Graphic Communication
  • Institute of Education
  • School of Humanities
    • Department of Classics
    • Department of History
    • Department of Philosophy
  • School of Law
  • School of Literature and Languages
    • Department of English Language and Literature
    • Department of Modern Languages and European Studies
  • School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
    • Department of Economics
    • Department of Politics and International Relations

Faculty of Life Sciences

  • School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy
    • Department of Chemistry
    • Food and Nutritional Sciences
    • The Reading School of Pharmacy
  • School of Psychology and Clinical Language Science
    • Department of Clinical Language Sciences
    • Department of Psychology

Faculty of Science

  • School of Construction Management and Engineering
  • School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
    • Department of Archaeology
    • Department of Geography and Environmental Science
  • School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
    • Department of Mathematics and Statistics
    • Department of Meteorology
  • School of Systems Engineering

Henley Business School

Henley Business School is a highly selective, top-ranking business school, among only 58 institutions worldwide (less than 1% of business schools globally) to be granted Triple accreditation by the three largest and most influential business school accreditation associations: EQUIS EQUIS, AMBA and the AACSB. It includes several departments:

  • Accounting, Business and Management
  • ICMA Centre[41]
  • Real Estate and Planning

Graduate School

The University-wide Graduate School is a Faculty provides training and a range of support for doctoral researchers and related staff across the other four Faculties.


Governing bodies and roles

The university is nominally led by a Chancellor, who is the titular head of the university, and is normally a well-known public figure. The day-to-day chief executive role is the responsibility of the Vice-Chancellor, a full-time academic post. The senior management board of the university is headed by the Vice-Chancellor, assisted by a Deputy-Vice-Chancellor, three Pro-Vice-Chancellors, four Deans and five Heads of Directorate. It is responsible for the day-to-day management of the University and meets fortnightly throughout most of the year.[42]

The senior management board reports to the university's Senate, the main academic administrative body. The senate has around 100 members and meets at least four times a year and advises on areas such as student entry, assessment and awards. Membership includes Deans, Heads and elected representatives of Schools, as well as professional staff and students. The Senate in turn reports to the Council, which is the supreme governing body of the university, setting strategic direction, ensuring compliance with statutory requirements and approving constitutional changes. The Council meets four times a year, and comprises a broad representation of lay members drawn from commercial, community and professional organisations.[42]

Officers of the University

Principals of University College, Reading

Chancellors of the University of Reading

Vice-Chancellors of the University of Reading


In recent years the university has been beset by controversy, with closing departments and job losses among staff.[12][13][14] The university will lose 7.7% of its HEFCE funding in fiscal year 2010–2011.[57]

Notable academics

Notable alumni






  • Cath Bishoprower, Olympic silver medallist
  • James Cracknell – rower, double Olympic gold medallist
  • Debbie Flood – rower, quadruple sculls silver medallist at the 2004 Olympics
  • Gary Herbert – rower, Olympic gold with Greg and Jonny Searl in the coxed pair in Barcelona 1992 Olympics
  • Molly Hide - captained English women's cricket team for seventeen years
  • Will Hoy - British Touring Car champion
  • Anna Bebington – Olympic rower (who won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008)
  • Anna Watkins - Olympic Gold medalist London 2012 rowing, PhD student in Mathematics (currently on sab for training)

Writing & art




See also

  • List of modern universities in Europe (1801–1945)


External links

  • Official website

Coordinates: 51°26′31″N 0°56′44″W / 51.44194°N 0.94556°W / 51.44194; -0.94556

Template:University of Reading

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