It has been a university since 1966, but the institution dates back to 1909, when the then Loughborough Technical Institute began with a focus on skills and knowledge which would be directly applicable in the wider world, a tradition which continues to this day, with the UNIEI funded Annual Survey on University Technology Transfer Activities finding Loughborough to be the most efficient technology transfer operation in the UK. It is the 2008 Sunday Times University of the Year. It is known as a sporting university, providing 48 competitors to the 2008 Summer Olympics.
The University has won an unbeaten 6 Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education for work with the aeronautical and automotive industries (1994); support for developing countries (1998); for a pioneering role in developing applications of modern optics and laser technologies (2000); for its world leading role in sports research, education and development (2002); for its world leading role in social policy in recognition of its outstanding and widely respected work in evaluating and helping develop social policy-related programmes, such as those for cared for children, social security policy, crime prevention, education initiatives and young carers (2006); and for recognition of its vehicle, road and driver safety research (2007).
In the 2007 Guardian League Tables, Loughborough was ranked 9th. In the 2007 Times rankings it was 6th overall but then fell to 12th position in the latest edition for 2008..
Loughborough University is well regarded as the country's premier university for sports development, research and education. The University has the largest sports scholarship programme in the UK. There are currently over 250 international athletes studying and training there.
The University traces its roots back to 1909 when a Technical Institute was founded in the town centre. There followed a period of rapid expansion during which the Institute was renamed Loughborough College and the development of the present campus began. In 1952 the College was divided into four separate institutions: Loughborough College of Technology, Loughborough College of Art, Loughborough College of Further Education and Loughborough Training College. In 1966, the College of Advanced Technology as it had then become received University status. In 1977 the University broadened its range of studies by amalgamating with Loughborough College of Education (formerly the Training College). More recently, in August 1998, opportunities were extended still further by the merger of Loughborough College of Art and Design with the University. In the early years, efforts were made to mimic the environment of an Oxbridge college (e.g. requiring students to wear gowns to lectures) whilst maintaining a strong practical counterbalance to academic learning. During World War I, the Institute served as an "Instructional Factory", training workers for the munitions industry.
The last was to become the nucleus of the present university. Its rapid expansion from a small provincial college to a world famous seat of learning was due largely to the efforts of its dynamic principal Dr. Herbert Schofield (1882-1963).
The University's main campus is in the Leicestershire town of Loughborough and until 2003 it was developing a secondary campus at Peterborough. The Loughborough campus (once the estate of Burleigh Hall) covers an area of 433 acres (1.75 km²), and includes academic departments, halls of residence, The Students Union, two gyms, gardens and playing fields. Of particular interest are the beautiful walled garden, the "garden of remembrance", the Hazlerigg-Rutland Hall ("Rigg-Rut") fountain-courtyard (pictured below) and the Bastard Gates. In the central quadrangle of the campus stands the famous cedar, which has often appeared as a symbol for the University. Unfortunately a heavy snowfall in December 1990 led to the collapse of the upper canopy which gave the tree its distinctive shape. The recent acquisition by the university of Holywell Park from Advantica Technologies and a 23 acre parcel of land between New Ashby Road and Holywell Park from 3M Heath Care Limited has increased the size of the campus to .
The official colour of the University is African Violet. The Loughborough arms.jpg incorporates several symbols relevant to the history of the Loughborough area, including Offa of Mercia's cross (a symbol of the ancient kingdom of Mercia, within whose borders the town now stands) and the peafowl from the arms of the Dukes of Rutland. The motto of the University is Veritate Scientia Labore (with truth, wisdom and labour, or alternatively with truth, knowledge and industry, depending on the translation).
The University has a strong tradition in both engineering and sporting, from its strong engineering and technical background it has now expanded, becoming a centre of excellence in the field of sports and sports science. It has graduated a number of world-class athletes including Paula Radcliffe and Lord Coe. In keeping with this tradition, Loughborough University students have won the British Universities Sports Association championship every year for over two decades. Sports students are entitled to wear a different style of scarf from other undergraduates. The university is the home of the England and Wales Cricket Board's National Academy, opened in November 2003.
The phonetic spelling "Lufbra" is sometimes used amongst students, graduates, and in Students' Union publications, and the name is also often abbreviated to lboro both casually as well as within more formal/academic circles stemmed from the university's url of www.lboro.ac.uk .
The Union is unusual in English universities, in that its premises are owned by the students themselves. The union building sits in the north-eastern corner of the campus, and offers a range of facilities for clubs and societies, retail, entertainment and other activities. The Union has five rooms, all with their own themes, meaning something for everyone. The most popular night in the Union is on a Wednesday, entitled "Hey Ewe", which is an evening to celebrate the Universities sport successes of the day. Friday Night Disco more popularly known as FND is also a very well frequented amongst the students with a selection of musical genres available in the many rooms. It is not unusual for students from around the country to attend one of the largest student unions in the country. Resident DJs include DJ Bang Bang, DJ Nish and DJ EJ.
Along with Loughborough Students Union's (LSU) numerous sports clubs the union hosts and organises many other activities and societies. Loughborough Students RAG organises charity work, and is among the largest such bodies in the UK, generating increasing amounts of money for charity and continually breaking records - in 2007 raising over £690,000 net, for a range of causes. LSU is also home to Loughborough Campus Radio, LSUTV and Label Magazine.
Loughborough University is well known for its many halls, and amongst that, lots of hall spirit. There are currently 17 halls, some undergraduate, some postgraduate, some both. The halls are as follows:
The University is currently building some new accommodation on the site of an existing car park, car park number 7, on the north side of campus. Three new halls for undergraduates and one new hall for postgraduates will be built. The overall development will be a mix of four and five storey buildings, arranged around a courtyard to identify the individual halls. The halls will be provided with self catering facilities but two of the halls will include flexible packages for the nearby restaurant and social centre.
There is an open access area where students are allowed to take in cold food and drinks as well as to engage in group discussions. The library has full wireless internet access (wifi).