Royal Agricultural University
The Royal Agricultural University.png
MottoLatin: Arvorum Cultus Pecorumque;
(from Virgil's Georgics)
"Caring for the Fields
and the Beasts"
Established2013 - University status
1845; 178 years ago (1845) – College
PresidentKing Charles
Vice-ChancellorPeter McCaffery
Students1,125 (2019/20)[1]
Undergraduates1,015 (2019/20)[1]
Postgraduates110 (2019/20)[1]
51°32′35″N 1°59′42″W / 51.54306°N 1.99500°W / 51.54306; -1.99500Coordinates: 51°32′35″N 1°59′42″W / 51.54306°N 1.99500°W / 51.54306; -1.99500
Chair of Governing CouncilDame Fiona Reynolds
Royal Agricultural University logo
National rankings
Complete (2023)[2]123

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU), formerly the Royal Agricultural College, is a public university in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England. Established in 1845,[3] it was the first agricultural college in the English-speaking world.[4] The university provides more than 30 land-based undergraduate and postgraduate programmes to students from over 45 countries through the School of Agriculture, the School of Business and Entrepreneurship, the School of Equine and the School of Real Estate and Land Management.


The Royal Agricultural University was founded as the Royal Agricultural College in 1842,[5] at a meeting of the Fairford and Cirencester Farmers’ Club. Concerned by the lack of government support for education, Robert Jeffreys-Brown addressed the meeting on "The Advantages of a Specific Education for Agricultural Pursuits".[6] A prospectus was circulated, a general committee was appointed and Henry Bathurst, 4th Earl Bathurst was elected president. Funds were raised by public subscription: much of the support came from the wealthy landowners and farmers of the day, and there was no government support. Construction of the main building, in Victorian Tudor style, began in April 1845 and was designed by S. W. Daukes and John R. Hamilton, and built by Thomas Bridges of Cirencester.[7] The first 25 students were admitted to the college in September 1845.

Queen Victoria granted a royal charter to the college in 1845 and sovereigns have been patrons ever since, visiting the college in every reign. King Charles III became president in 1982.

The college gained full university status in 2013 and changed its name accordingly.[8] It had 1,125 students in the 2019/20 academic year[1] and saw a 49% rise in applications between 2008 and 2013.[9] The 2022 National Student Survey (NSS) ranked the RAU 1st for Learning Community (UK Universities) and 4th for Overall Satisfaction (English Universities).[10]


The university operates two farms close to the campus:

Harnhill Manor Farm was purchased in 2009 and with Coates Manor Farm totals[11] 491 hectares (1223 acres) of land. The farm was managed organically for many years but all the land apart from the outdoor-pig unit was taken out of organic management. In 2011, an old sheep shed at the front of the farm complex was turned into the 'John Oldacre Rural Innovation Centre' a building designed for the training of students and members of the public in vocational skills such as rough-terrain forklift truck driving, blacksmithing, chainsaw and welding course, etc. The building cost £1.2 Million to transform.[12] The JORIC was officially opened in March 2014 by Sir John Beddington and the site was visited in November 2013 by Prince Charles.


The university has a range of sports facilities on campus, including a gym, an all-weather pitch, and squash and tennis courts. Students participate in a wide range of sports including; clay pigeon shooting, cricket, equestrian, field sports (hunting, fishing and shooting), football, golf, lacrosse, hockey, netball, polo, rugby, rifle shooting, rowing, tennis and yachting. However, most sports have been banned from BUCS League, and rugby has even been banned on campus. .[13]

The Royal Agricultural University is just one of three remaining British universities (the others being the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford) to maintain their own beagle pack. Founded in 1889, the RAU Beagles is run by the students who whip in and hunt the hounds, and until the 2004 hunting ban, hunted hares in the countryside around Cirencester.[14]


In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 52% of the University’s research was classed as 3* or 4* meaning it is world-leading or internationally excellent. In addition, half of the University’s scientific publications were deemed to be of international quality.[15] In Research England's Knowledge Exchange Framework, the University was grouped into the STEM cluster – small specialist universities in medicine, science, and engineering – ranking second out of the nine institutions in the cluster. The University was recognised as having very high or high engagement in five of the seven criteria on which it was judged.[16]


The university library holds around 40,000 print volumes, nearly 1,000 current journal subscriptions, more than 40,000 e-books and a growing number of full-text databases.[17] The main collection is supplemented by a support collection and a historical collection of texts, primarily on agriculture and estate/land management, dating back to the 16th century. The library also holds the RAU archive, a collection of documents relating to the institution since its foundation.


The patron of RAU was until 1982 the current reigning British monarch, at which point King Charles, the then heir apparent to the British throne, and current King of the United Kingdom took on this role.[18]

Notable people



See also: Category:Alumni of the Royal Agricultural University

Royal Agricultural University graduates have won a number of awards and prizes, including the Farmers Weekly Young Farmer Of The Year Award (James Price 2009[23] and Adrian Ivory 2008[24]).

Notable students from the institution include:

Arts and Media






  1. ^ a b c d "Where do HE students study?". Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Complete University Guide 2023". The Complete University Guide. 5 July 2022.
  3. ^ The Times Friday, 15 August 1845; pg. 6; Issue 19003; col D
  4. ^ RAU - History & Heritage Archived 17 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 14 November 2015.
  5. ^ The American Journal of Education, Volume 22, Henry Barnard, F.C. Brownell, 1871
  6. ^ The History of the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester Roger Sayce, p.1
  7. ^ Historic England. "Royal Agricultural College - Cirencester (1187418)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  8. ^ "BBC News – "New" Universities Set to Be Created in England". BBC News. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  9. ^ "RAU welcomes more students as UCAS applications hit record high". 20 December 2013. Archived from the original on 24 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "RAU – John Oldacre Rural Innovation Centre". Archived from the original on 26 December 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  13. ^ "RAU – Sports and Clubs". Archived from the original on 21 November 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  14. ^ "RAU website". Archived from the original on 28 October 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  15. ^ "New assessment commends world-leading research carried out at Royal Agricultural University | Royal Agricultural University". Retrieved 6 January 2023.
  16. ^ "Royal Agricultural University excels in this year's Knowledge Exchange Framework". 2 December 2022.
  17. ^ "Library". Royal Agricultural University. Archived from the original on 12 January 2020. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Why RAU?". Royal Agricultural University. Archived from the original on 11 January 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  19. ^ "The Government Model Farm". Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904). SA: National Library of Australia. 5 August 1882. p. 9. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  20. ^ "Sir Emrys Jones". 14 July 2000. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  21. ^ "RAU – Buildings". Archived from the original on 10 January 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  22. ^ "RAU – Sir Emrys Jones Memorial Trust Scholarships". Archived from the original on 9 May 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  23. ^ "FW Awards 2009 winner: Young Farmer of the Year – James Price – Farmers Weekly". Farmers Weekly. Archived from the original on 2 April 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  24. ^ "Adrian Ivory crowned Farmers Weekly Farmer of the Year". Farmers Weekly. Archived from the original on 13 November 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2015.