The campus was founded in 1879 by the Victorian entrepreneur, Thomas Holloway. Royal Holloway College was a women-only institution, and was officially opened in 1886 by Queen Victoria. Royal Holloway College became a member of the University of London 1900. In 1945, the College began admitting male postgraduate students, and in 1965, male undergraduates. 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.
The campus is dominated by its original building, known as the Founder's Building, which is modelled on Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley, France. The building has occasionally been used as a filming location. From 2002 to 2008, Royal Holloway underwent a £100 million investment programme and a re-development of its campus. The college is currently made up of 3 faculties and 18 academic departments. The Students' Union employs 250 student staff and also publishes The Orbital magazine and broadcasts Insanity radio. The College's independent student newspaper is entitled The Founder.
Royal Holloway College and Bedford College merged in 1985. The merge between the two establishments was forced to take place 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 Queen Elizabeth II. 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.
It was announced in October 2008, that Royal Holloway is set to merge with the prestigous medical institute, St George's, University of London to form a single educational and research institution within the University of London.
The Founder's Building has been the centre of media attention and occasionally employed as a filming loaction. 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. Some areas of the building were also made to look like a psychiatric institute for the film. 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. 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, an episode of Midsomer Murders, ("Murder on St. Malley's Day"), was partly shot inside the South Quad of the Founder's building. The character Sophie Neveu in the best-selling book The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is mentioned as having studied cryptography at the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway. Royal Holloway's Information Security Group is amongst the biggest academic security groups in the world, and in 1998, it was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize in recognition of its work.
The College Council stands as the governing body of Royal Holloway, taking responsibility for the College's "financial probity and for setting its overall strategic direction." There are 25 members of the council, many of which are lay members from outside of Royal Holloway, and every member is appointed for a fixed term. 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. 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. Royal Holloway's current principal is Professor Stephen Hill, who was elected by The College Council. Hill, a social scientist, is a former Deputy Director at the LSE whose published research brought about the Government report on Corporate Social Responsibility. The 3 Vice-Principals include Professor Rob Kemp, Mr David Sweeney and Professor Geoff Ward, who are each responsible for one of the following - academic affairs communications; enterprise and research; and planning and resources.
Founder's, the main Royal Holloway building, houses 479 students, for whom meals are catered. Also on the campus, Gowar and Wedderburn, a construction of 564 study bedrooms in two new blocks, was opened in September 2004. These halls will also be used as accommodation for rowers at the 2012 Olympic Games. Similar accommodation blocks, named Butler, Tuke and Williamson, were completed in September 2007 to replace the ageing Athlone, Cameron and Williamson Halls. Of the waste created by the demolition of Athlone, Cameron and Williamson, 98 per cent was recycled. 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, as well as being designed to improve insulation. 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. Most of the halls of residence are situated on the campus, with the exception of the Kingswood I and II accommodation which is 1 mile away. These halls hold over 400 students, and a free bus service operates to the campus. Other accommodation includes Highfield Court (125 students), Penrose Court (200 students), Reid Hall (287 students), Runnymede Hall (441 students) which was opened by Anne, Princess Royal in 1992 and Victorian Houses (25 postgraduate students).
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, and helped build the college's reputation as a sporting institutions of excellence. An aerobics studio, fitness suite, sports Hall, sports fields and tennis courts account for some of the sporting facilities that Royal Holloway offers. 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. 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. 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.
Royal Holloway is particularly strong in the arts and humanities; "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. In the most recent research reviews, French, German, geography and music were judged to be of an international standard, with 5* ratings. The Guardian UK University Guide in 2005 ranked the Language Department 9th in Britain.
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, managing to obtain the highest 5 or 5* awards. In the National Student Survey, physics at Royal Holloway achieved the best results. Royal Holloway also makes a science foundation year available at further education colleges within the region.
The School of Management has all three of its MBA programmes accredited by AMBA, and obtained management school status in 1993. At present, the school has 1000 undergraduate students, in addition to 300 postgraduates. The History Department also fares well in research and teaching reviews, and remains the University of London's biggest History Department.
An Advanced Skills Programme is also run at the University, featuring information technology, communication skills and foreign languages. 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.
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, and it is listed as having one of the lowest state school intakes. Student applications for 2007 courses, 11,931 in total, increased by more than 14 per cent, while there were only 2,153 places available. The rise was attributed to the high student satisfaction being shown by two national surveys, the most recent of which proved Royal Holloway's geography students to be the most satisfied in the country. It is estimated that 20 per cent of undergraduates are from overseas. 67.3 per cent of students achieve a First or 2:1 degree. Royal Holloway employs 1388 members of staff, including 534 academic staff and 132 research staff. The total number of undergraduate and postgraduate students is around 7,700 from 120 countries.
Royal Holloway collaborates with Queen Mary, University of London to help run programmes at a college of the University of London in Paris, France, known as the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP). This offers undergraduate and graduate students the chance to study University of London ratified French Studies degrees in France. 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.
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 per cent of graduates unemployed. Furthermore, according to the latest official statistics for 2006, Royal Holloway is second out of 90 universities in England and Wales for the amount of its students who go into graduate employment. Royal Holloway 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.
The Times Good University Guide for 2009 ranked the University at 30th in the United Kingdom, with a total score of 626 points out of a possible 1000. The Sunday Times University Guide for 2008 listed Royal Holloway as the 28th best University in Britain out of 120, with a 74.9 per cent student satisfaction. In The Good University Guide, Royal Holloway is ranked number 22 in Britain, while The Guardian placed it at 35, The Independent at 22, and The Telegraph at 13.
Following Imperial College's recent withdrawal, Royal Holloway is now placed third amongst the colleges of the University of London federation, behind LSE and University College London. The University is also listed as the 6th best university in London out of 20.
The results of the most recent Research Assessment Exercise placed Royal Holloway at 9th among ten university institutions whose departments all earned the top ratings for research, whether they achieved 4, 5 or 5* ratings. Additionally, Royal Holloway was listed as the 12th best University for research in Britain by The Sunday Times.
With little nearby off-campus activity, there is a great emphasis placed on The Royal Holloway Students' Union (SURHUL), which "has a reputation as one of the best unions in the London area", in the words of The Independent. The Students' Union provides much of the on-campus entertainment, through to organising and sponsoring the sport clubs and special-interest societies, on top of providing advice and counselling to students through the Student Advice Centre. Like most Students' Unions in the United Kingdom, SURHUL is run entirely by the student body itself, headed by a team of elected student officers, including four paid Sabbatical Officers who work full time, having been elected for one year. In keeping with democratic practice, the elected Officers' executive power is held in check by the legislative power of General Meetings. The Sabbatical Officers also have 15 unpaid volunteers (elected Executive Officers) at their assistance. In order to supervise the administration and commercial activities of the Union, 20 permanent members of staff are employed. More than £1 million a year accounts for the Union's turnover. The Union uses the employment of 250 student staff, and also runs an accreditation scheme for the student staff and volunteers.
Royal Holloway's Student Union provides entertainment seven days a week, with a function hall which holds 1,200 people, three bars, a coffee shop and administrative offices all located within the Union's main building. The Students' Union also controls three other student-run bars; Medicine, The Stumble Inn and Tommy's. Union events have attracted acts such as Trevor Nelson and Tim Westwood. An annual Summer Ball is held at the Founder's Building at the year's end, with a survivor's breakfast for those still on their feet 6am the day after the ball begins. The likes of Girls Aloud, Lemar and Wheatus have all headlined at the Ball. There are also market days, at which a variety of items are sold including fresh fruit, vegetables, books, and there are also CD sales.
Over 100 student societies and clubs, run by a committee of students, are put on through the Union. Societies include the James Bond Appreciation Society, the Comedy Society (which hosts stand up evenings throughout term time), The Institute for Impure Science (IFIS), and Anime and Manga, which won society of the year for 2004/05. The Union also maintains a number of successful sports club, catering to sports as diverse as rowing and ultimate. The 2007/08 "Sports Club of the Year" award went to the Bears Basketball Club.
The Royal Holloway Students' Union is responsible for broadcasting Insanity radio station, which was established in 1998. Available locally on 1287MW, Insanity broadcasts during term time, between the hours of 8am and 1am, 7 days a week. The station is also available worldwide through the internet. 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, and has also won the Best Marketing and Promotions Award 3 times since 1999.
Released up to 14 times per academic year, The Orbital is a lifestyle magazine published fornightly by the Students' Union, covering subjects from culture to entertainment. 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. The magazine has a readership of 6,000, and a print media budget of £10,000, which is considered low compared to some other University's £50,000 budget. The Orbital was named runner-up at the 2000 Guardian Student Media Awards in the category of Student Magazine of the Year. The magazine was named the Best Student Magazine at the 2006 National Student Journalism Awards, as well as being nominated in two other categories: Best Student Critic and Best Student Photographer. Judges from the media industry said of the magazine, it is "gritty, witty, relevant and coherent, packaged with good design and strong front covers."
The Founder is the College's independent student newspaper. Through its independence, it is dubbed the "free voice of Royal Holloway". Founded in 2006, 5,000 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. At the 2007 Guardian Student Media Awards, Christian Anthony was shortlisted for the Student critic of the year Award.
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."