Writtle University College

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Writtle University College (near Chelmsford, Essex) is one of the largest land-based university colleges in the UK; it is also one of the oldest.[citation needed] Set in the Essex countryside on a 220 hectare estate, Writtle, previously known as Writtle College provides FE and HE programmes. It also offers apprenticeships and short courses. Writtle was awarded University College status in May 2016.[3]

Writtle University College
MottoTime Tries the Truth In Everything
ChancellorAnne Jenkin, Baroness Jenkin of Kennington
Administrative staff
100+ academic/teaching
15 Research
50+ other academic
80+ other
Students750 HE (2018/19)[1]
Other students
7,645 FE[2]
Lordship Road,
Essex, CM1 3RR
, , ,
ColoursScarlet and Bronze Yellow
Writtle University College logo.jpg

The University College is very specialist and offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as research for a number of subject areas. Writtle was granted Taught Degree Awarding Powers in March 2015 and will offer its own degrees, instead of University of Essex, from September 2017.[4]


Writtle University College campus

There has been major investment in IT and science facilities. The University College has a Lecture Theatre complex, numerous halls of residence and newly refurbished its Recreation Centre, including its student venue, The Baa and Chef.

Doctor Stephen Waite was appointed as the new Principal in Spring 2013[5] and changed his job title to Vice-Chancellor upon the college obtaining University status. He retired in August 2017 and was succeeded by Professor Tim Middleton.[6]

The front of Writtle University College

Writtle has undergone significant growth in its research areas, such as the Postharvest Technology unit which carries out trails[clarification needed] on fruit and vegetables for major supermarkets.

The University College is also committed to using a significant proportion of teaching staff who are actively engaged in research and/or professional practice. The report of the 2011 QAA audit again identified this aspect of Writtle provision for praise, noting as best practice "the way in which the curriculum is designed, developed and delivered to take advantage of staff research and professional practice."[7]

Writtle University College student Francine Gilman with Matt Baker on BBC Countryfile.

In July 2013, the University College made its debut on national BBC television programme Countryfile. The focus for this episode was on the University College's research which included a piece with presenter Matt Baker (television presenter) carrying out an experiment on the contents of a pig's stomach with Writtle Student Francine Gilman who was one of only five recipients nationally of the National Farmers Union of England and Wales Centenary Award.

Writtle University College was granted Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) by the Privy Council in March 2015. This is a significant milestone in the University College's history as it has ambitious plans to grow as an institution.[8]

The Guardian University League Tables ranked Writtle College 14th out of 69 for Sports Science in 2015.[9]


Established in 1893, the College was originally known as County Laboratories, teaching agriculture and horticulture and becoming the County Technical Laboratories in 1903. In 1912 a further name change occurred, becoming the East Anglian Institute of Agriculture. In 1935 it was proposed that it move to the Writtle Estate and the building was completed in 1940, having become the Essex Institute of Agriculture, Writtle in 1939 and then Writtle Agricultural College in 1969. In 1989 Writtle Agricultural College became simply Writtle College, before becoming Writtle University College in 2016.[10]


WUC specialises in areas such as landscape and garden design, landscape architecture and contemporary art and design. The landscape based courses offered are accredited by the Landscape Institute.

WUC designed a temporary radio structure at the University College and transmitted a set of live art broadcasts.[11]

Annually, WUC holds an end of year exhibition that celebrates the final pieces of third year undergraduate students. Students present their pieces of art to potential employers, family and friends. This event is open to the public and takes place in May. Writtle University College has design courses such as landscape architecture, which was voted 4th in the country by the Guardian League Table in 2012.[12]

Students showcase their work at the Writtle School of Design End of Year Exhibition


The university college has extensive facilities considering its relatively small size. It has an on-campus library, science building and is based on a very large and landscaped 550 acre estate. These facilities include 2 indoor riding schools - one brand new, an equine Hydrotherapy unit and a therapy barn. The Animal unit – now named the Titchmarsh Centre for Animal Studies after the College Patron - includes various specifically designed areas such as the reptile house and the state of the art Dog Grooming room. The campus farm has recently received a new herd of cattle as well are planning for the arrival of sheep. Lordship Stud has many technologies that are essential to the equine Breeding industry including - 'Brenda' the semen collection dummy mare and a new ultrasound scanner with the employees qualified to make sure that students get access to watching the various tasks. Furthermore the college has a Mechanical horse which allows students the ability to perform rider position research and allows for the teaching and lecturing of students on various hands on tasks. The College also has SpermVision. This sperm analyser is used in research.[citation needed]

There is a second animal therapy centre that is due to open in September 2015. This is located next to the Titchmarsh Centre for Animal Studies.

One of the Writtle University College gardens with accommodation in the background

Social and livingEdit

The college has an active Students' Union. The SU provides a varied social scene; major functions include the 'Freshers Ball' in September 'X-mas ball' in December and the 'Summer Ball' in June, the latter being particularly lavish, with a several marquees, fairground rides and semi formal meal. In 2011 the summer ball features DJ's Chase & Status and was reportedly so loud that some local residents complained about the noise levels.[citation needed] The 2012 ball was re-located to an alternative indoor venue on campus as a result.

Writtle University College Summer Ball

The Students' Union also organise the 'Writtle RAG' a long held tradition at the College, the students pick good causes to support, and then raise as much money as possible. This usually involves themed party nights, a BBQ and Moulsham 11 (a pub crawl along Moulsham Street in Chelmsford). The SU has a number of sports teams including; Rugby (men's and women's), football (men's and women's), clay pigeon shooting, hockey (men's, women's and mixed), netball, cricket and climbing. The College owns a number of full size pitches and a recently refurbished fitness centre. International students can attend social events to meet and greet other students. The international team at Writtle also organises trips to local sites, including London, making international students feel at ease. In 2013, the Writtle College Students' Union was named the Small and Specialist Students' Union of the Year at the NUS National Union of Students awards ceremony in Manchester.

The Baa and Chef, is the on-campus student venue, it is of a modern design, and includes a selection of big-screen televisions, games and an entertainment system which was generously donated to the College by entrepreneurial Writtle graduate Robert Forster in 2005.[citation needed]. The College has thirteen halls of residence: all are small compared to many other universities. All halls are mixed sex accommodation, non-smoking and have either network connections or wireless networks installed. All halls have basic cooking facilities and common rooms. Rooms can be single or double in size and can have a sink or en suite or neither. Catering at the college is provided by a number of small units and the main refectory The Writz, named by college veteran Geoff Owen following its extension in the early 1990s, however, as of 2011, "The Writz" is now known as "The Garden Room".

The campus is located ten minutes from Hylands Park where the annual V Festival is held.


Writtle University College is a very active institution and its students have been recognised for the standard of their work. The Writtle Floristry team won the Gold award at the Royal Horticultural Society Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2012 for their exhibition entitled "Lady of Shallot".[13] The floristry team also won a Silver award for their exhibition "Rock Around the Clock" in 2013.[14]

The University College's Further Education horticulture students won a Gold award at the Royal Horticultural Society Young Gardeners of the Year competition in 2014. They have previously won a Silver award in 2013 and 2012. They also received the Bronze award in 2011.[15][16]

Writtle University College alumnus Liam Sapsford won the 'Garden Designer of the Year' award at the Grand Designs Live Show 2014.[17]

Writtle graduate Jacqui Jobbins won the 'student dissertation' award in the Landscape Institute awards 2014.[18]

Writtle further education horticulture students won 'Best in Show', 'Gold' and 'People's Choice' awards at the Ideal Home Show Young Gardeners of the Year competition in 2015. Presented by David Domoney.[19]

Postgraduate student Jiyoung Kim, from South Korea, was joint winner of the Society of Garden Designers' Student Award in 2015 for her garden design which aims to support those facing mental health issues.[20]

Writtle University College students won Gold, Best in Show and People's Choice awards at the Young Gardeners of the Year competition in London in 2015.[21]


International students make a snow cat on campus. This photo appeared on the ITV news photo gallery during the December snow in 2012.

The University College also has a number of international students from around the world – more than 10% of the student body and drawn from 50+ countries. Writtle’s primary international markets include Norway, South Korea and Japan. In recent times, international students have also contained those studying through the Marshal Papworth scholarship scheme. This has included students from Kenya and other developing countries.


College Patron Alan Titchmarsh with students during a graduation ceremony.

Celebrity horticulturist Alan Titchmarsh was Patron from 2001 to 2016 and annually attended one of the College graduation ceremonies.[22]

Cinders TrophyEdit

The Cinders Trophy is a squash series played between Writtle and Writtle College. The teams are referred to simply as Village and College. It is one of the most celebrated rivalries within Essex and dates back to 1974. It is currently played biennially, alternately in the village and college.

Northumberland Building Light Well MosaicEdit

In 2006 British artist Anne Schwegmann-Fielding installed a mosaic sculpture in the light well of the Northumberland Building foyer. Based on an aerial photograph of the College, the installation was the culmination of a 2005 Leverhulme Trust grant titled 'The Landscape of Mosaic' which also saw the development of a mosaic meadow which combined artist's source materials and wild flowers.[23][24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Where do HE students study?". Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Table 0a - All students by institution, mode of study, level of study, gender and domicile 2005/06". Higher Education Statistics Agency online statistics. Archived from the original on 15 May 2007. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  3. ^ "Writtle achieves University College status".
  4. ^ "Writtle College granted Taught Degree Awarding Powers".
  5. ^ "Dr Stephen Waite to join Writtle College as principal from Hartpury College".
  6. ^ http://writtle.ac.uk/pge_PressRelease.cfm?ID=21387
  7. ^ (QAA), The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. "The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA)".
  8. ^ "Writtle College gains degree awarding powers". 25 March 2015.
  9. ^ "University guide 2015: league table for sports science". 3 June 2014 – via The Guardian.
  10. ^ WCU 2017, 120 year timeline
  11. ^ "Writtle Calling set to broadcast - Design Week". 20 August 2012.
  12. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/education/table/2011/may/17/university-guide-art-design
  13. ^ http://www.rhs.org.uk/Shows-Events/RHS-Hampton-Court-Palace-Flower-Show/2012/PDFs/2012-awards/Romance---Roses-floristry-awards
  14. ^ http://www.rhs.org.uk/Shows-Events/RHS-Hampton-Court-Palace-Flower-Show/2013/PDFs/2013-awards/Floristry-Awards-2013
  15. ^ "College wins gold in the Young Gardeners of the Year at the Ideal Home Show 2014".
  16. ^ "Silver win in Ideal Young Gardeners of the Year!".
  17. ^ "Alumnus named Garden Designer of the Year 2014 at Grand Designs Live!".
  18. ^ "Landscape Institute".
  19. ^ Kentish, Franky (20 March 2015). "Young Gardeners of the Year: meet the future Chelsea designers". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  20. ^ "PREVIOUS AWARDS - SGD Awards 2016".
  21. ^ "Writtle College: Young Gardeners of the Year Show Garden".
  22. ^ "College Patron - Writtle College".
  23. ^ "A Sciart collaboration: 'The Landscape of Mosaic', 2005". CADE. 2006. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  24. ^ "Mosaic Light Well". CADE. 2006. Retrieved 29 May 2016.


External linksEdit

Coordinates: 51°44′24″N 0°24′53″E / 51.7399°N 0.4146°E / 51.7399; 0.4146