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Royal Holloway

Royal Holloway, University of London
File:Royal Holloway coat of arms.png
Motto Esse quam videri
Motto in English To be, rather than to seem (to be)
Established 1985 – Merger of Bedford College and Royal Holloway College
1900 – Constituent College of University of London
1879 – Royal Holloway College
1849 – Bedford College
Type Public
Endowment £ 69.7 million[1]
Chancellor HRH The Princess Royal (University of London)
Principal Paul Layzell [2]
Students c.9,000
Location Egham, Surrey, England
Campus Suburban
Affiliations 1994 Group, University of London, ACU, AMBA

Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) is a constituent college of the University of London. The college has three faculties, 18 academic departments, and about 9,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students from over 100 different countries. The campus is located slightly west of Egham, Surrey, within the boundary of the Greater London Urban Area, although outside of the M25 motorway and some 19 miles (31 km) from the geographic centre of London.

The Egham campus was founded in 1879 by the Victorian entrepreneur and philanthropist Thomas Holloway. Royal Holloway College was officially opened in 1886 by Queen Victoria. Royal Holloway College became a member of the University of London in 1900. In 1945, the college began admitting male postgraduate students, and in 1965, male undergraduates.[3][4] In 1985, Royal Holloway College merged with Bedford College(another formerly all-women's college in London which was founded in 1849 and, like Royal Holloway College, joined the University of London in 1900 and became fully co-educational in 1965). The merged college was named Royal Holloway and Bedford New College (RHBNC), this remaining the official registered name of the college by Act of Parliament. The campus is dominated by the Founder's Building, a Grade I listed red-brick building modelled on the Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley, France.

Royal Holloway is ranked 12th in the UK, 36th in Europe, and 102nd in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2013-14.[5] This ranks Royal Holloway in the top 1% of all higher education institutions across the globe. It is particularly strong in the arts and humanities, and admission into popular courses such as English, Creative Writing, Psychology and Music are among the most competitive in the country with a highly selective 9:1 applicants to place ratio.[6][7][8] Royal Holloway's degree courses in Physics, International Relations, Earth Sciences and Media Arts are also particularly strong, frequently ranking in the top 10 of national subject rankings.[9]

Throughout its recent history, Royal Holloway has also maintained strong links and exchange programmes with leading institutions in the United States and Canada, most notably Yale University and the University of Toronto.[10]


Royal Holloway College

Royal Holloway College, a women-only college, was founded by the Victorian entrepreneur Thomas Holloway in 1879 on the Mount Lee Estate in Egham.[11] The founding of the college was brought about after Holloway, seeking to fulfil a philanthropic gesture,[12] began a public debate through The Builder[12] regarding 'How best to spend a quarter of a million or more', at which point his wife proposed to build a college especially for women.[13] Holloway later increased his original sum of money to half a million, and today, the campus is still best known for its original 600-bed building, known as the Founder's Building, designed by William Henry Crossland and inspired by the Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley, France.[12][14] Sir Nikolaus Pevsner called the original college building "the most ebullient Victorian building in the Home Counties", and noted that together with its sister building the Holloway Sanatorium, it represents "the summit of High Victorian design". The Founder's Building, which is now Grade I listed,[15] was officially opened in 1886 by Queen Victoria,[11] who allowed the use of "Royal" in the college's name.[16][17] Founder's has been described by The Times as "one of Britain’s most remarkable university buildings", largely due to its elaborate architecture,[18] and according to The Sunday Times it "makes the college instantly recognisable".[14] The college also has a Chapel, completed in 1886 as one of the last parts of the university to be finished.[19] October 1887 saw the arrival of the first 28 students at Royal Holloway College.[19] It later became a constituent of the University of London in 1900, as did Bedford College with which Royal Holloway College would eventually merge.[11]

Merger of Royal Holloway College and Bedford College (1985)

Bedford College was founded by Elizabeth Jesser Reid in 1849 as a higher education college for the education of women.[13] Reid leased a house at 47 Bedford Square in the Bloomsbury area of London, and opened the Ladies College in Bedford Square. The intention was to provide a liberal and non-sectarian education for women, something no other institution in the United Kingdom provided at the time.[13] The college moved to 8 and 9 York Place (off Baker Street) in 1874, and then to Regent's Park in 1908. In 1900, the college became a constituent school of the University of London.[11] Like Royal Holloway College, following its membership of the University of London, in 1965, it allowed male undergraduates to study on its premises for the first time.[13]

Royal Holloway College and Bedford College merged in 1985.[13] The pressure for the merger was due to a lack of government funding for higher education, and the college was named Royal Holloway and Bedford New College (RHBNC), with an inauguration being held at the College Chapel in 1986 by Elizabeth II.[13] The newest title remains the official registered name of the college, though this was changed for day-to-day use to "Royal Holloway, University of London" by the College Council in 1992.[13]

Since the merger with Bedford College, Royal Holloway has entered into collaborative discussions with Brunel University[20] and St George's, University of London. The latter project was cancelled in September 2009.[21] Royal Holloway, St George's and Kingston University continue to work together in the field of health and social care teaching and research.


Royal Holloway has forged successful academic links with other universities in the Greater London area and beyond. In 2004 RHUL became a member of the WestFocus Knowledge Exchange based at Kingston University along with Brunel, Roehampton, Thames Valley Universities, University of Westminster and St George's, University of London. The WestFocus initiative was created to forge business and enterprise links between its member institutions and small to medium-size business partners in south-east England.



Royal Holloway's campus in Egham is set in 135 acres (55 ha) of woodland, between Windsor and Heathrow.[18] Around 200 species of shrubs, 150 different types of tree and numerous wild flowering plants can be found in Royal Holloway's parkland.[19] The campus is about 40–50 minutes[28] from Waterloo station in central London which is 19 miles (31 km) away,[11] and Windsor is 5 miles (8 km).[14] The campus is 2 miles (3.2 km) from M25 junction 13 and close to the M3, M4 and M40 and London Heathrow Airport.[11] While Royal Holloway's worst feature is considered to be that "Egham is not known for its social scene",[14] it has been noted that the campus's environment "offers the best of both worlds – friendly and relaxed on the one hand, dynamic and busy on the other."[11] The former principal, Stephen Hill, also commended its "superb campus environment and the close-knit nature of our community".[29] The Independent stated that the university is "Renowned for its friendly and supportive environment".[15]

The Founder's Building, which dominates the campus, has striking north and south towers, two large quadrangles and contains a chapel, kitchen and dining hall, lecture theatre and the arts library along with student rooms and offices. The building has often been the centre of media attention and has become a popular filming location for TV and film as a grandiose 'university' or 'public school'. Apart from the ITV's 'Trinity', the 2006 film Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction starring Sharon Stone was partly filmed at the South Quad of the Founder's Building during the summer of 2005, becoming the only location to be used outside London.[30] Some areas of the building were also made to look like a psychiatric institute for the film.[30] Similarly, the Academy Award-winning movie Howards End had some scenes shot inside one of the Founder's courtyards with the statue of Queen Victoria visible.[31] The BBC's Antiques Roadshow has used the North Quad of the Founder's Building as a location for one of its antique filming days, and in 2002, external scenes for an episode of Midsomer Murders, ("Murder on St. Malley's Day"), featuring a fictional public school sports day were partly shot inside the South Quad of the Founder's building.[31]

In the autumn of 2009, the Founder's Building provided the external settings for the ITV2 satirical drama, Trinity.[32]

Campus redevelopment

Between 2002 to 2008, the college underwent a £100 million investment programme and a re-development of its campus,[19] as a result of the merge with Bedford College and the sale of Bedford's site in Regent's Park.[18] A number of recent projects undertaken by Royal Holloway have included an extension to the School of Management, the library (which holds half a million books),[11] and the academic staff, as well as an improvement to student services.[18] The biological science laboratories have also been renovated and the Windsor Building has been used to create seminar rooms and a 400-seat auditorium.[14] As an extension to the drama department, the on-site Victorian boilerhouse has been converted into a performance space.[18] The International Building, opened in 2000 by HRH The Princess Royal,[17] houses the Language Centre along with the English, European Studies, French, German, Italian and Hispanic Studies Departments.[33] The new developments have also been followed by the establishment of formal links with New York University, the University of Sydney, and Yale University,[18] and connections with the Royal College of Music means that music students at Royal Holloway have the opportunity to take lessons there.[18]

The size of the campus has allowed the college to develop some of the best sports facilities of any university institution in the London area,[34] and helped build the college's reputation as a sporting institutions of excellence.[15] An aerobics studio, fitness suite, sports Hall, sports fields and tennis courts account for some of the sporting facilities that Royal Holloway offers.[35] Situated on the campus are restaurants, college shops, a bank, a health centre, a Chapel, a careers centre, as well as a new sports complex.[11] As a result of an evaluation by People & Planet in 2007, Royal Holloway was ranked a disappointing 60th out of 120 universities for environmental performance.[15] The university has put into place initiatives to enhance environmental performance, such as the improvement of woodland management to develop nature conservation and more recycling banks are being introduced to halls of residence.[36]

Organisation and administration


The College Council is the governing body of Royal Holloway, taking responsibility for the college's "financial probity and for setting its overall strategic direction."[37] There are 25 members of the council, many of which are lay members from outside Royal Holloway, and each is appointed for a fixed term.[37] A total of 16 lay members are appointed; 2 from local authorities; 1 selected by the Privy Council; another by the University of London; 2 more are appointed as alumni from Royal Holloway, Bedford College or Royal Holloway College; and the rest are chosen to offer a range of skills and experience.[37] The Council's Chairman, who is appointed for 5 years, is also a lay member. One of The Chairman's duties is to chair a number of committees including the Remuneration Committee, which handles the pay and benefits of the senior staff.[37] At a special meeting held on 19 March 2010, the Council appointed Paul Layzell as the Principal, from 16 August 2010.

Coat of arms

Royal Holloway's coat of arms consists of the Royal Holloway shield and its surrounding elements. There are three crescents shown on the coat of arms, which are taken from Thomas Holloway's own coat of arms.[38] Taken from the Bedford coat of arms, the field is coloured black and gold in a chequered design, with the addition of ermine spots (feather-like symbols representing ermine tails) from the Royal Holloway coat.[38] Placed between two black lozenges, there is a lamp of learning. Traditionally, the lozenge is worn on the arm of unmarried women or widows, which places significance on the coat of arms' lozenges as it acts as a reminder that the colleges were founded for women.[38] Below, the motto is displayed which is taken from the arms of Bedford College, and reads esse quam videri.[38]

The Royal Holloway shield was created following the merger of Bedford and Royal Holloway Colleges in 1985. The shield appears (in a black and white form) on legal documents and stationery for legal reasons, along with the following: "Incorporated by Act of Parliament. Royal Holloway and Bedford New College."[38]

The use of the university's identifying marks is governed by the Corporate Identity Manual, RHUL.[38]

Academic structure

The university is made up of a number of schools and departments organised into three faculties,[39] and 18 academic departments.[18] One Dean heads each faculty, and are supported by Deputy Deans.[40] The Principal takes the role of appointing The Heads of Department, who in turn report to their faculty's Dean.[40] The faculties are as follows:


Royal Holloway runs a variety of academic degree programmes, including Single Honours and Joint Honours, with fees of £9,000 for full-time undergraduate students (2012-2013 entry) and some financial help schemes[41] The study of an undergraduate programme leads to one of five University of London degrees, which include Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science (Economics), Bachelor of Music and Master in Science.[42] Lowered fees, or even free places are allocated to students who stay on to complete a postgraduate degree.[18] The university also runs e-degrees in history and business management.[18]

On a competitive basis, Founder's Scholarships worth £3,500 a year are given to 20 students who achieve AAA, and for those who do not have a maintenance grant, 60 Bedford Scholarships are made available worth £1000.[14]

Royal Holloway is particularly strong in the arts and humanities;[18] "cultural and artistic opportunities are hard to rival with excellent theatres, high-profile student media outlets and a strong musical tradition", wrote The Sunday Times.[14] In the most recent research reviews, French, German, geology and music were judged to be of an international standard,[18] with 5* ratings.[15] The Guardian UK University Guide in 2005 ranked the Language Department 9th in Britain.[43]

In biological sciences and psychology, teaching assessments awarded top scores to the departments, in addition to all of the sciences being rated "nationally outstanding" for research in 2001,[18] managing to obtain the highest 5 or 5* awards.[14] In the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) of 2008, Royal Holloway's School of Biological Sciences was ranked joint 3rd achieving a proportion of 4* and 5* rankings. In the National Student Survey, physics at Royal Holloway achieved the best results.[18] Royal Holloway also makes a science foundation year available at further education colleges within the region.[18]

The School of Management has all three of its MBA programmes accredited by AMBA, and obtained management school status in 1993.[44] At present, the school has 1000 undergraduate students, in addition to 300 postgraduates.[44] Royal Holloway also runs the University of London MBA distance-learning programme, in 2008 the MBA in International Management was ranked as one of the world’s 40 best distance-learning MBAs by the Financial Times.[45]

The History department is traditionally one of the best in the country and many of the college's most notable academics are longstanding members of the department. The department has been recognised as a centre for research excellence and has received equally good teaching reviews. It remains the University of London's biggest History Department.[16]

An Advanced Skills Programme is also run at the university, featuring information technology, communication skills and foreign languages.[18] The 2007 Sunday Times University Guide lists all of the following subjects taught at Royal Holloway as excellent: classics and ancient history; drama, dance and cinematics; economics; geology; history; maths, statistics and operational research; organismal biosciences; physics and astronomy; and psychology.[14]

The number of students from working-class homes has seen an increase at Royal Holloway, though undergraduates from independent school count for a quarter of the university's undergraduate students,[18] and it is listed as having one of the lowest state school intakes.[46]

Royal Holloway employs 1388 members of staff, including 534 academic staff and 132 research staff.[19] The total number of undergraduate and postgraduate students is around 7,700 from 120 countries.[11]

Study Abroad Programme

RHUL has developed a variety of study abroad programmes, allowing its students to spend a year in institutions including;[10]

Royal Holloway collaborates with Queen Mary, University of London to help run programmes at the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP), a central academic body of the University of London in Paris, France.[18][47] This offers undergraduate and graduate students the chance to study University of London ratified French Studies degrees in France.[47] Students who take a degree in French, German, Italian or Hispanic Studies will all take a year abroad as an integral part of the course.[48]

Reputation and rankings

Royal Holloway has been recognised for maintaining a reputation for excellence in teaching and research. The university's graduate unemployment rate has been judged to be "consistently among the very lowest", with only 3.2% of graduates unemployed.[14] Also, according to official statistics for 2006, RHUL is 2nd out of 90 universities in England and Wales for the number of students going into graduate employment.[49] RHUL also came 5th in a league table of UK universities in the 2005 National Survey of Student Satisfaction, placing it alongside universities such as University College London and Exeter.[50]

The university is popular with both state-educated and privately educated students, with the latter group currently accounting for around 25% of all students.[51]


(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2014, national)
The Guardian[55]
(2014, national)
Times/Sunday Times[56]
(2014, national)

For 2013-2014, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings[57] ranked the college 36th in Europe and 102nd in the world.

Students graduating in 2008/9 expressed dissatisfaction at the drop in the league tables. They felt cheated that RHC's reputation had suffered so dramatically in such a short period.[58] In an interview with The London Student, one student – having been awarded three 'A's at A level – remarked that he felt as if the college had let him down. It was subsequently claimed, in an article featured in The Founder, that an administrative error had resulted in an incorrect value being submitted to league table publishers which quoted an inflated student/staff ratio of 400:1. It was said that this mistake explained the college's sudden fall in the university rankings.[58] However, in 2010 the college benefited from upgraded evaluation methods used by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[59] They ranked the college as 88th in the world,[60] and 22nd in Europe.[61]

Following Imperial College's withdrawal, Royal Holloway is now placed 4th amongst the colleges of the University of London federation, behind LSE, University College London and King's College London.[62] RHUL is also listed as the 5th best university in London out of 20.[63]


In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) a range of departments were rated in the national top ten for the quality of the research undertaken. Economics, Geography, Psychology, Media Arts, Earth Sciences & Biological Sciences all made the top 10, whilst the Music department at RHUL was the highest rated Music department of any UK university. Overall Royal Holloway placed 16th in the country (over 150 institutions were assessed).

The current research policy chief of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, David Sweeney and his predecessor Rama Thirunamachandran were both sourced directly from Royal Holloway.[83]

The Picture Gallery and Holloway Collection

Royal Holloway's famous Picture Gallery is in Founder's Building. From 1881–3, Thomas Holloway paid the equivalent of £6m for 77 Victorian era paintings.[12] Most of the collection was acquired from Christie's sales' catalogues, except for five, and it is thought that Holloway was only ever outbid once.[12] The Royal Holloway Collection toured the United States from 2008 to 2011, its debut exhibition overseas.[84] The paintings were displayed at the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Delaware Art Museum and other museums.[84]

Between 1993 and 1995, in order to fund the maintenance of Founder's, three of the paintings were sold for a total of £21m.[85]

These were a Turner ("Van Tromp going about to please his Masters, Ships at Sea, getting a good wetting" c.1844);[86] a Constable ("A Sketch for View on the Stour, nr Dedham" c.1821/2)[87] and a Gainsborough ("Peasants going to Market: Early Morning" c.1770)[88] The controversial decision was made by principal Dorothy Wedderburn. The remaining paintings at Royal Holloway have a current value of £16.6 million.[19] The Turner is now in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.[86]

The Picture Gallery is a resource for the Victorian Studies Centre for teaching and research in Victorian art, architecture and literature, including a taught MA under the Department of English. A major refurbishment of the gallery was completed in 2008. The Holloway collection returned to the college in 2011.

Student life

Students' Union

The Royal Holloway Students' Union (SURHUL), is the students' union of the university and is claimed to have "a reputation as one of the best unions in the London area", in words of The Independent.[15] The Students' Union provides much of the on-campus entertainment, organising and sponsoring the sport clubs and special-interest societies, on top of providing welfare advice to students through the Student Advice Centre.[89]

Student media

The Royal Holloway Students' Union is responsible for the student and community radio station Insanity Radio, which was established in 1998.[90] Available locally on 103.2 FM and 1287 kHz, Insanity broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with live presenters in the studio from 8AM till 2AM daily in term time and some holiday periods.[90] The station is also available worldwide through the internet.[91] Receiving a positive reaction, the station has twice won the Silver Award for Best Student Radio Station at BBC Radio 1's Student Radio Awards.[90] The station was awarded a community radio station license in early 2010, and on 7 March moved to FM, broadcasting on 103.2 MHz.

The Orbital is the RHUL campus magazine and is published by the Students' Union, covering subjects from higher education news, opinion and reviews.[92] The original official Royal Holloway student publication was in the format of a newspaper called The Egham Sun, but this was replaced with the magazine edition in the early 1990s.[92] The magazine is regularly published in print and online.

The Founder is the independent student newspaper. Founded in 2006, 4,000 free copies are printed and distributed on a fortnightly basis to numerous spots on campus and in the local area. The newspaper receives no financial support from the college or SURHUL and thus advertising revenue acquired by the students on the editorial board pays for the printing costs of the paper. This means that editorial and financial responsibility is entirely that of students. In December 2010 the newspaper became the first student publication in the UK to launch an iPhone app.

At the 2007 Guardian Student Media Awards, Christian Anthony was shortlisted for the Student critic of the year Award.[93] At the inaugural 2011 London Student Journalism Awards Kate Brook, the newspaper's Features Editor, was recognised with the Best Feature Writer award.

Halls of residence

Most halls are around the main campus,[14] are initially allocated to the first year to students who firmly accept a conditional or unconditional offer.[34] Accommodation prices at the university can vary, ranging from £83-£156 per week. Catered-pay-as-you-go accommodation is also available.[34] Currently 2,900 students live in halls of residence.[18]

The Founder's Building houses 479 students in original Victorian rooms and converted space. Meals for catered students are provided in the dining hall.[94]

Also on campus, Gowar and Wedderburn, a construction of 564 study bedrooms in two new blocks opened in September 2004.[94] These halls were also used as accommodation for rowers at the 2012 Olympic Games.[95]

Similar accommodation blocks, named Butler, Tuke and Williamson, were completed in September 2007 to replace the ageing Athlone, Cameron and Williamson Halls.[94] Of the waste created by the demolition of Athlone, Cameron and Williamson, 98 per cent was recycled.[36] All five of these new halls were named after former principals and have been designed to be environmentally friendly, accomplished by sedum-planted roofs that change colour by season,[15] as well as being designed to improve insulation.[36] In an assessment used to distinguish the environmental performance of buildings, BREEMAN rated the Butler, Tuke and Williamson halls as "very good", as their construction was designed to reduce heat loss.[36]

The Kingswood I and II accommodation is 1-mile (1.6 km) away. These halls hold over 400 students, and a free bus service operates to the campus.[94] Other accommodation includes Highfield Court (125 students), Penrose Court (200 students), Reid Hall (287 students), Runnymede Hall (441 students) which was opened by HRH The Princess Royal in 1992[17] and Victorian Houses (25 postgraduate students).[94]


Notable alumni

Royal Holloway College, Bedford College and RHUL have about 65,000 alumni. Notable amongst them are:

Notable staff

The following is a list of notable office-holders, academics and other teachers or researchers:


In date order with years served

Royal Holloway College including the merged college

  • Matilda Ellen Bishop, first principal of the college (1887–1897)
  • Dame Emily Penrose, second principal of the college (1898–1907); former Principal of Bedford College; Principal of Somerville College, Oxford (1907–26)
  • Ellen Charlotte Higgins, alumna and third principal of the college (1907–1935)
  • Janet Ruth Bacon (1935–1944)
  • Fanny Street, alumna, founder of Hillcroft College and acting principal (1944–1945)
  • Edith Clara Batho (1945–1962) Male Postgraduates joined in 1945
  • Dame Marjorie Williamson DBE alumna, British academic, educator, physicist and university administrator (1962–1973). Male undergraduates joined in 1965
  • Lionel Harry Butler first male principal (1973–1981)
  • Roy Miller alumnus and last principal before the merger with Bedford College (1982–1985)
  • Dorothy Wedderburn last Principal of Bedford College and authority on poverty and the welfare state. First principal of the merged college (1985–1990)
  • Norman Gowar (1990–2000)
  • Sir Drummond Bone (2000–2002) currently Master of Balliol College, Oxford
  • Stephen Hill (2002–2009)
  • Professor Paul Layzell (2010– )

Bedford College

  • Elizabeth Jesser Reid Founder (1849–1864) then run by committee until first principal appointed
  • Dame Emily Penrose First principal (1893–1898) also Royal Holloway (1898–1907)
  • Ethel Hurlbatt (1898–1906)
  • Dame Margaret Jansen Tuke (1907–1929)
  • Geraldine Emma May Jebb (1930–1951)
  • Norah Lillian Penston (1951–1964)
  • Elizabeth Millicent Chilver (1964–71) later Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
  • John Nicholson Black (1971–81)
  • Dorothy Wedderburn, last Principal of Bedford College (1981–1985)

See also


External links

  • Students' Union of Royal Holloway, University of London official website
  • The Pioneers: A website for the first male intake, 1965
  • Royal Holloway, University of London student lists
  • Pathé video of Queen Mary's visit to the college in 1937

Coordinates: 51°25′29″N 0°34′01″W / 51.42472°N 0.56694°W / 51.42472; -0.56694

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