Established in 1892, receiving its Royal Charter in 1926, the University has a long tradition of research, education and training at a local, national and international level. It was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 1998, and again in 2005. It is one of the ten most research-intensive universities in the UK , as well as being considered one of the top 200 universities in the world.
The new college received its first treasury grant in 1901. Three years later it was given a site, in London Road, by the Palmer family of Huntley & Palmers fame. The same family's continued support enabled the opening of Wantage Hall in 1908 and the Research Institute in Dairying in 1912.
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 March 17 1926. With the charter, the University College became the University of Reading, the only new university to be created in England between the two world wars.
In 1947 the University purchased Whiteknights Park, which was to become its principal, Red Brick, campus. In 1982 the University merged with Bulmershe College of Higher Education, in the process acquiring its third campus.
In 1984 the University started a merger with Bulmershe College of Higher Education, which was completed in 1989.
In October 2006, the Senior Management Board proposed 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 over the closure which prompted heated discussion of higher education issues in general.. On October 10th the Senate voted to close the Department of Physics, a move confirmed by the Council on November 20th. Other departments closed in recent years include Music, Sociology, Geology, and Mechanical Engineering.
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 the 1st 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.
The University maintains over of grounds, in four distinct campuses:
The University also owns 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. The University also intends to site some functions on the London Road site, with a complete withdrawal from Bulmershe Court proposed by 2012.
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. The Department of Meteorology was awarded a distinguished Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2005 and is internationally renowned for its training and research in weather, climate and physical oceanography. Research centres include the Centre for Horticulture and Landscape, the BioCentre and the Centre for Advanced Microscopy.
Reading was the first university to win a Queen's Award for Export Achievement in 1989. Since then several initiatives to link the academic and commercial communities have followed. Reading Enterprise Hub, one of a network of SEEDA sponsored business incubators, opened on campus in 2003.
Reading University Students' Union is the affiliated student organisation which represents the students' interests. The Students' Union publishes Spark, a bi-weekly newspaper aimed at the student population of the University, which was weekly until October 2006 (it is now published fortnightly during term-time) and runs the student radio station Junction11. The university also has a number of Junior Common Rooms that are nominally independent from the Students' Union and the University.
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.
Bulmershe Hall is on the Bulmershe Campus. Bridges, Childs, Wessex, Whiteknights, and Windsor Halls are on the Whiteknights Campus. St. George’s, St. Patrick’s, Sherfield, Sibly, Wantage, and Wells Halls are in the residential areas surrounding Whiteknights, as is the self-catering accommodation of the Reading Student Village, Hillside Court and Martindale Court.
St. David's and Mansfield Halls latterly formed part of Witan Hall (see below) on the London Road Campus, and are not currently in use. The former St. Andrews Hall closed in 2001, and is now the home of the Museum of English Rural Life.
St. George's Hall and The Reading Student Village are leased back to the University from UJC. 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.
In 2007, the Men's Association Football team became the highest placed in University history by winning the BUSA South East Division 1A Title and entering the BUSA Cup as one of the top 16 teams in the country. In 2007 the Men's Hockey 1st XI won the renowned British universities sports tournament, Dublin Fest. The Kickboxing club has also won national and southern tournments in recent years.
The Reading University Boat Club (RUBC) has won many Rowing awards and competitions, its most recent BUSA placing being second on points at the 2007 BUSA Regatta. The club won the Visitors Challenge Cup for coxless fours at Henley Royal Regatta in 1986, and reached the final of the same event in 2007, where they were defeated by local rivals Leander Club. RUBC attracts many international oarsmen through its links with the GB Squad training facility at Caversham Lake and the GB Rowing World Class Scheme. Current and past students to achieve international representation and success include James Cracknell (Olympic Gold 2000, 2004), Garry Herbert (Olympic Gold 1992), Debbie Flood (Olympic Silver 2004, World Championship Gold 2006, 2007), Tash Page (Under 23 Gold 2005), Anna Bebington (World Championship Bronze 2007), Sam Townsend (GB Men's Quad 2007), Alex Gregory (GB Men's Quad 2007), Bill Lucas (Under 23 Bronze 2007) and Charles Cousins (Under 23 Bronze 2007). The Boat Club has been the highest ranked university club at the Fuller's Head of The River Fours for the last two years, with its Elite Men's boat finishing 4th Overall in 2006 and 3rd in 2007.
The University of Reading has 60 societies open to its students.
Reading University maintains four museums, two campus libraries and a range of inter-departmental libraries, and a botanical garden. The largest and best known of these museum 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. All 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 on the University's Bulmershe Campus supports teaching courses and provides resources in education, health & social care, music and film & drama.
The University of Reading Law faculty is also associated with Taylors College in Malaysia. Taylors College conducts a 'twinning' program whereby students complete half of their degree in Malaysia and the other half at the University of Reading. Malaysian Law students in Reading generally achieve a second class upper average, and have set a high standard for Malaysian Law students.
Located on Reading University's Whiteknights campus is The College of Estate Management (CEM). The College was founded in 1919 and granted its Royal Charter in 1922. It was originally based in London but moved to Reading in 1969, leading to the foundation of the Faculty of Urban and Regional Studies (URS) at the University. The College provides education and training for students and members of the property and construction professions worldwide through distance learning. Courses are delivered by the provision of printed material sent to students by post and through web-based learning.
The Walker Institute, a pioneering centre for climate research, is based at the University of Reading. The Institute aims to exploit and integrate the climate expertise within the University and to address fundamental questions in understanding and forecasting climate variability and its impacts.
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.
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