Keele University

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Not to be confused with University of Kiel.
Keele University
Keele Library arms 0838.jpg
Keele University coat of arms
Motto Thanke God for All
Type Public
Established 1949 (as University College of North Staffordshire)
1962 Royal Charter granted for university status
Endowment £0.95 million (2015)[1]
Chancellor Jonathon Porritt CBE
Vice-Chancellor Trevor McMillan[2]
Visitor The Lord President of the Council ex officio
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 9,635 (2014/15)[4]
Undergraduates 7,325 (2014/15)[4]
Postgraduates 2,310 (2014/15)[4]
Location Keele, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
53°00′11″N 2°16′23″W / 53.003°N 2.273°W / 53.003; -2.273Coordinates: 53°00′11″N 2°16′23″W / 53.003°N 2.273°W / 53.003; -2.273
Campus Rural
Mascot Herbert the Dragon[5]
Affiliations ACU
Keele University 2013 logo.png

Keele University, officially known as the University of Keele,[6] is a public research university located about 3 miles (5 km) from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England. Keele was granted university status by Royal Charter in 1962[7] and was originally founded in 1949 as the University College of North Staffordshire. It is the oldest and highest research-ranked university in Staffordshire.[8] A science park and a conference centre complements the academic buildings, making it the largest main campus university in the UK.[6] The university's School of Medicine operates the clinical part of its courses from a separate campus at the Royal Stoke University Hospital with the School of Nursing and Midwifery is based at the nearby Clinical Education Centre.

The university occupies a 620-acre (250 ha) rural campus close to the village of Keele and consists of extensive woods, lakes and Keele Hall set in historic Staffordshire Potteries heartland. The estate was originally given by King Henry II of England to the Knights Templars, AD 1180. When the Templars were condemned and dissolved by the Council of Vienne in the time of Pope Clement V AD 1311, their possessions were annexed by the Knights Hospitallers until their dissolution by Henry VIII.[9] The estate was purchased from the Crown by the Sneyd family and remained in their property until acquisition by the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation in 1948.


Keele Hall

Satisfying local demand[edit]

As early as the 19th century, Charles Kelsall (1782-1857), an architect educated at Eton and Cambridge University, imagined in Phantasm of an University (1814), the foundation of a dream college layout in the county of Staffordshire where the "Silver Trent" would "meander at the end of the University grove". Cambridge and Oxford Extension Lectures had been arranged in the Potteries since the 1890s, but outside any organised educational framework or establishment. In 1904, funds were raised by local industrialists to support teaching by the creation of a North Staffordshire College, but the project, without the backing of Staffordshire County Council, was abandoned.[10]

By the late 1930s, the Staffordshire towns of Longton, Fenton, Burslem, Hanley had grown into the largest conurbation without some form of university provision.[11] A large area including Staffordshire, Shropshire and parts of Cheshire and Derbyshire did not have its own university. Stoke, in particular, demanded highly qualified graduates for the regional pottery and mining industries and also additional social workers, teachers and administrators with an academically informed grasp of local communities economic and social needs. Neither the traditional ancient institutions based on the Oxbridge model or earlier civic 'Redbricks' responded to that particular criteria.[12]

Spearheading a new approach to interdisciplinary teaching that was to characterise the new generation of universities of the 1960s, Keele University was established in 1949 as the University College of North Staffordshire, at the initiative of A D Lindsay, then Professor of Philosophy and Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Lindsay was a strong advocate of working-class adult education,[13] and had first suggested a "people's university" in an address to the North Staffordshire Workers' Educational Association in 1925.[14]

Challenging the Orthodoxy[edit]

Lindsay, recently appointed to the House of Lords, participated in producing the influential Foreign Office report University Reform in Germany, which argued that no institution deserved the name of "university" unless it combined teaching and research. Consistent with his democratic ideals of education, Lindsay also warned of the dangers of training the specialist intellect in the natural sciences and the need to introduce elements of social sciences at university level by broadening the academic agenda. Lindsay believed technological excesses sponsored by the state without a review of the social and political consequences had been a major contributor to Germany's downfall. This was to heavily influence Keele's curriculum.[15]

On 13 March 1946, Lindsay wrote to Sir Walter Moberly, chair of the University Grants Committee (UGC), suggesting the creation of a college "on new lines".[16] The Committee wanted a University for the 20th Century that overcame the division between Arts and Sciences and what Moberly was calling the ''evil of departmentalism''. ''The tasks of the modern citizen and the study of modern society should be central to the curriculum'', the UGC argued with North Staffordshire an ideal site since it ''presented many typical problems thrown up by modern industrial conglomerations such as those posed by technical innovation in the pottery and mining industries.'' The college could become a ''social laboratory'' for industries and the local communities these catered for.[17]

Normal practice was for new colleges (such as Southampton, Exeter and Nottingham) to be launched without degree-awarding powers; students would instead matriculate with and take external degrees from the University of London. Crucially, Lindsay wanted to "get rid of the London external degree", instead forming a college with the authority from the start to set its own syllabus, perhaps acting under the sponsorship of an established university. This would allow the college to start afresh in the setting of its curriculum free from the inheritance of educational practices. Lindsay also wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, tentatively requesting such sponsorship.[16]

Keele University Clock House
Keele University Clock House

Consequently, an exploratory committee was established by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, chaired by Lindsay and supported by Alderman Thomas Horwood, Vicar of Etruria and leader of the Labour group on the City Council.[18] Having secured public funding from the UGC in January 1948,[19] the Committee acquired Keele Hall, a stately home on the outskirts of Newcastle-under-Lyme, from its owner, Ralph Sneyd.[20] The Hall, ancestral residence of the Sneyd family with its clock house, had been requisitioned by the War Office for military use during World War II, and was purchased together with the bulk of the Sneyd estate and a number of prefabricated structures erected by the Army, for the sum of £31,000.[20]

In August 1949, the University College was granted the right to award its own degrees, a privilege only shared in England with the ancient universities of Oxbridge, Durham (1832), London (1836), Manchester (1851), Birmingham (1900), Liverpool (1903), Leeds (1904), Sheffield (1905), Bristol (1909), Reading (1926) and Nottingham (1948). Three universities, Oxford, Birmingham and Manchester, initially acting as Keele's sponsors.[21] The first graduate was George Eason, who had studied Mathematics at Birmingham University gaining a BSc in 1951. He received his MSc in 1952 from Keele.[22] In 1954, the first graduate studying fully at Keele was Margaret Boulds who received a dual honours degree in Philosophy and English.

Receiving University Status[edit]

Growing steadily to 1,200 students,[23] the university college was granted university status in 1962, receiving a new Royal charter in January of that year,[24] and adopting the name "University of Keele". Alternatives were considered, including "The University of Stoke" or "Stoke-on-Trent", but both were rejected; the estate is situated in the borough of Newcastle under-Lyme. Paradoxically, "Staffordshire University" was also discussed; this is now the name of the former North Staffordshire Polytechnic.[25]

Keele University Drive

The university is a short distance west of the civil parish of Keele, and it was decided to name it after the village. It is the only establishment of higher education in the UK to be named after a village, and this has long attracted questions as to its location. Together with Reading, Nottingham, Southampton, Hull, Exeter and Leicester, all university colleges founded a short time before or after the first world war, Keele is identified as one of the civic or Red Brick universities, albeit a very late one.[26]

In 1968, the Royal Commission on Medical Education (1965–68) issued the 'Todd Report' [1], which examined the possibility of a medical school being established at Keele. It was considered that North Staffordshire would be a good site, having a large local population and several hospitals. However, a minimum intake of 150 students each year would be necessary to make a medical school economically and educationally viable, and the university was at that time too small to support a medical school of this size.

Keele University Clock House Lane

Keele's International Relations Department was founded in 1974 by Professor Alan James and was one of the first institutions to offer a full degree in the subject.[27] The Keele World Affairs Group, closely associated, followed suit in 1980 and is Europe's leading lecture series on Politics, Economics and Global Issues.[28] Keele's first woman professor was appointed to the Chair of Social Work in 1976.[29] In 1978, Keele Department of Postgraduate Medicine was created, albeit not catering for undergraduate medical students.

Government Funding Cuts[edit]

In late 1985, after a series of cuts in university funding, Keele briefly considered merging with North Staffordshire Polytechnic, but negotiations collapsed.[30] In September 1983, the Secretary of State, via the UGC, had encouraged the idea, asserting that the most radical way of increasing the size of departments and diminishing their number is by the merger of institutions. At the time, Keele had a population of 2,700 students, compared to 6,000 at the less academically exclusive Polytechnic. Edwina Currie, then Conservative MP for South Derbyshire, remarked, "A university which is now below 3,000 students has got problems. It simply isn't big enough".[31] Keele University Science & Business Park Ltd (KUSP Ltd) opened in 1986, partly to generate and diversify alternative sources of income.

In 1994, the Oswestry and North Staffordshire School of Physiotherapy (ONSSP), which had been a separate institution based at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, Shropshire, merged with Keele University, becoming Keele's Department of Physiotherapy Studies (now School of Health & Rehabilitation): it moved to the Keele University campus. In August 1995, Keele University merged with North Staffordshire College of Nursing and Midwifery, forming the new School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Keele University Western Entrance

In 1998 and 1999 there was some controversy when the university decided to sell the Turner Collection, a valuable collection of printed mathematical books, including some which had belonged to and had been heavily annotated by Isaac Newton, in order to fund major improvements to the university library. Senior university officials authorised the sale of the collection to a private buyer, with no guarantee that it would remain intact or within the UK. Although the sale was legal, it was unpopular among the academic community, and the controversy was fuelled by prolonged negative press coverage suggesting that the £1m sale price was too low and that the collection was certain to be broken up.[32]

New Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy[edit]

The appointment of Sir David Weatherall as Chancellor paved the way for a rapid expansion in Health disciplines. In 2001, Keele was awarded an undergraduate medical school in partnership with Manchester University. Initially, some students from Manchester Medical School began being taught at Keele. Finally Keele's own medical school opened in 2007 with the first of cohort of students having graduated in 2012. In 2009, the university was awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, for "pioneering work with the NHS in early intervention and primary care in the treatment of chronic pain and arthritis, linking research to delivery to patients through GP networks and user groups".[33] In 2006 the School of Pharmacy was created with the launch of new MPharm degree programmes.[34]

Path from Lymes Road to Keele Campus

In early 2001, to cut costs, the faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences merged. Due to declining popularity and funding, the German department closed in December 2004[35] with the university retaining its physics degree despite the subject facing similar pressures.[36] Although, degrees ceased to be offered in modern languages, a Language Learning Unit was created to provide Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish teaching for Keele students and staff alike. This can lead to an enhanced degree title given sufficient electives taken.[37]

The foundation year was officially axed in 1998 but re-introduced in 2012 with new programmes of study, the international foundation year and the accelerated international foundation year which add to the existing offer, as well as the humanities, science, social science, health, general foundation years and foundation year for people who are visually impaired.

Re-branding and Embracing the Market[edit]

Thorley remarked in 2003 that Keele's major weakness was that it lacked a major city and name recognition.[38] Although this is completely unrelated to the quality of education, the study revealed prospective students would fear that it could not be that good if they had never heard of it. To counter these negative perceptions, Keele has gone further than most, arranging open days to market its campus, communicating the benefits of its unusual dual-honours system and raising general awareness of higher education to local high school students, potential future customers.

Moreover, in 2013, as part of a new marketing campaign, Keele decided to implement a new visual identity via a re-branding exercise across campus. The University initiated a signage overhaul as the existing signage had become dated, it lacked consistent brand identity and due to the sheer size of the campus a new way finding solution was required. The University wished to provide students and visitors with a clear brand identity and signage with way finding methods that would improve their experience of time spent navigating the campus and its facilities.

Keele also started to offer selected postgraduate education programmes offshore via exclusive partnerships to reap further income,[39] summer schools and short executive courses.[40] Keele University Conferences and Events, originally Keele Hospitality is a long established provider of venues, from residential conferences to weddings. Another example of the institution's gear towards market provision is the appointment of a private firm to manage the university's halls of residence. University Partnerships Programme (UPP), which already maintains and runs student accommodation at Kent, Reading, Nottingham, York, Plymouth, Lancaster and Bath has secured the £150M contract in December 2016.[41]

Finding a Role and the Environmental Agenda[edit]

Keele University Suburbia

To network and leverage experience from key individuals, in 2011, Keele created a College of Fellows. This small group of supporters and stakeholders are advocates for the University on a regional, national and international level and provides an informal forum in support of the University’s advancement. Although the College has no executive powers, it serves as a vehicle to enable the University to draw on a range of expertise from people who can shape and influence Keele’s reputation, as well as supporting its development across a range of stakeholder groups. The college aims to harness all investment opportunities that can benefit the university.[42]

In early 2016, true to the original mission set by Lindsay to broaden the academic agenda, Keele introduced an Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences[43] with the aim to transform the University into a British Ivy League liberal Arts College in coming years.[44] This will allow Keele to find a niche market in the provision of undergraduate teaching across disciplines where the university has a comparative advantage as opposed to competing with the more intensive, less student focused research-oriented establishments. It will also enable the institution to focus on targeted research areas e.g. medical, green energy and find a clear identity where size is not necessarily an impediment in an increasingly changing higher education landscape.

With Jonathan Porritts's nomination as Chancellor, Keele has placed environmental sustainability at the heart of its university strategy.[45] This is encouraged at every level from senior lecturers to students and aims to instil responsibility as a citizen of the 'global commons'. In 2016, Keele was finalist in the Green Gowns Awards thanks to its "significant reduction in carbon emissions and to a dedicated programme of carbon reduction projects supported by an excellent energy management system".[46] Moreover, in the People & Planet Green League 2015 assessments for environmental and ethical performance, Keele ranked 48 of 151 educational establishments.[47] The creation of a SMART energy centre due for completion in 2021 aims to further improve this by allowing the campus to become energy self-sufficient via waste recycling and alternative energy sources.[48]


University Chapel

Set in the North Staffordshire countryside, Keele's campus is rural with many 19th-century architectural features that predate the building of the modern university.[49] It is close to Newcastle-under-Lyme and Hanley (which is the main centre of the City of Stoke-on-Trent). By rail, Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool are about an hour,[49]London 90 minutes by rail and three to four hours by road. Hitchikers and lift-sharers can walk to the college from Keele services on the M6.[49] Apart from increasing numbers of academic and residential buildings, other facilities include an astronomical observatory, art gallery, arboretum, Islamic centre, shops, cafés and places to eat and drink. Keele Golf Course and practice range are close by. The campus also has science, business enterprise parks and conference centres. It is also home to the Earth Science Education Unit (ESEU).[50]

From the onset, Christian worship was central to University life. Lindsay, first principal of the University College, was an ardent Christian preaching every Sunday in the Library Reading room of Keele Hall.[51] A permanent structure was required. The chapel came to fruition in 1965. Built from staffordshire blue brick, the chapel accommodates different Christian traditions. John Francis Reuel Tolkien (1917-2003) eldest son of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, was briefly Catholic university chaplain.[52]

Keele Bubble[edit]

Many students and staff alike have described Keele as a 'Bubble'. Due to its location in rural settings, initial small student intake and accommodation principally on-campus, all have come to re-inforce a sense of community. In a 2009 final year Psychology student project investigating the phenomenon, the conclusion was that "The Bubble was seen as Keele having its own little environment, like a mini-society, with everyone knowing each other. Keele felt sometimes to be in the middle of nowhere with little sense of the “outside world”. The rural setting helped to produce this, with Keele surrounded by fields. The Bubble feeling meant it was easy to socialise within Keele, and feelings of friendliness, safety closeness to others. Yet it wasn’t all positive. The Bubble sometimes implied feelings that were claustrophobic, isolated and with everyone being on top of each other."[53]

Halls of Residence[edit]

There are five halls of residence on the main campus: Horwood, Lindsay, Barnes, Holly Cross and The Oaks. Hawthorns Hall is located off site in Keele village just outside the main entrance. These halls provide accommodation for approximately 70% of all full-time students.[54]

Keele University Observatory

3 of the oldest halls, Horwood (1957), Lindsay (1964) and Barnes (1970) are named after the founding fathers of the university,[55] the Oaks (1992), west of Lindsay Hall is named after 4 oak trees that were felled to pave the way for the university residence and Holly Cross (1993) after the Knights Templars which the ground once belonged to and clearly shaped in a cross.[56] The Hawthorns (1957), remnants of the Sneyd property, in Keele Village, was originally a large house, 2 paddocks and gardens totalling 13 acres of land.[57]

Barnes Hall has no M block (it has A to L and N to X) because the building became unsafe due to subsidence and was demolished. The large open area adjacent to L block helped an urban legend develop that M block sank into the ground due to an abandoned mine tunnel.[58] Another building anomaly is the seventh floor of O Block in Horwood. Although the top storey has windows and walls, the roof was never added.[59]

New Developments[edit]

Following student demand for accommodation on-campus, by Christmas 2017, Barnes hall of residence will be re-developed with new residential units added and cater for an additional 453 bedrooms whilst the Hawthorns site will be released for house construction and sale on the open market.[60] More ambitious, a new phase of expansion of student accommodation is expected by 2020 with refurbishment of existing and new stock (townhouses and cluster flats) with planning application to be submitted in autumn 2016.[61] In a nutshell:

  • Approximately 2,300 new high-quality, affordable rooms and the demolition of approximately 900 rooms that are beyond their usable life;
  • A new social hub in each hall;
  • A new dedicated postgraduate hub to replace the existing Keele Postgraduate Association (KPA) clubhouse;
  • A new music and teaching facility;
  • A new, larger medical centre with dedicated parking spaces to replace the existing GP facilities.

These changes will take place at Horwood, Lindsay and Barnes and increase the total accommodation on campus to circa 4,200 rooms distributed across all halls.[41]

Academic Structure[edit]

Keele University Chancellor's Building

Keele's academic activities are organised into the following faculties:

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences[edit]

  • School of Humanities (American Studies, English, History, Film Studies, Languages, Music, Music Technology, Culture and Creative Arts)
  • Keele Management School (Accounting, Finance, Economics, Management, Marketing, Human Resource Management)
  • School of Law
  • School of Social Science and Public Policy (Sociology, Criminology, Education, Social Work)
  • School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment (SPIRE)
Keele University Colin Reeves Building

Faculty of Natural Sciences[edit]

Keele University William Smith Building
  • School of Computing & Mathematics
  • School of Life Sciences
  • School of Geography, Geology & the Environment
  • School of Chemical & Physical Sciences
  • School of Psychology
  • Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences[edit]

Associated with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences:

Research Institutes[edit]

  • Primary Care & Health Sciences
  • Science & Technology in Medicine

All Keele’s courses, with the exception of Medicine and Pharmacy, are modular, with the academic year divided into two semesters, with breaks at Christmas and Easter.[6] There are approximately 14 students to every member of staff.[62]


University Chancellor Jonathon Porritt CBE

Principals and Vice-Chancellors[edit]

Presidents and Chancellors[edit]

Academic profile and reputation[edit]

Keele University Forest of Light

The university's distinctive profile reflects the aims of its founders: breadth of study, community atmosphere and authenticity of experience.[64] "The Forest of Light", a modern sculpture installation which carries the motto "Search for truth in the company of friends", was unveiled on 28 November 2012 in Union Square to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the university.

Breadth of study was guaranteed by the "pioneering"[65] four-year dual-honours degree programmes initially offered by Keele.[6] The university's curriculum required every student to study two "principal" subjects to honours level, as well as further "subsidiary" subjects, with an additional requirement that students should study at least one subject from each of the subject groupings of Arts, Sciences and Social Sciences.[66]

In 1961, external examiner, Professor H. H. Price (1899–1984), Emeritus Professor of Logic at Oxford remarked the standard reached at Keele was comparable with any of the Arts Joint Honours Schools at Oxford and expressed regrets that it was not possible at Oxford to combine Philosophy with Mathematics or Physics or English (Keele had, in effect created what would have been a 'Science Greats' course at Oxford).[67]

The cross-disciplinary requirement was reinforced by the Foundation Year, an innovation which meant that for the first year of the four-year programmes, all students would study a common course of interdisciplinary "foundation studies". In the words of the first UCNS Prospectus, the programme offered:

"...a broad education based upon an understanding of the heritage of civilisation, movements and conditions, and of the nature, methods and influence of the experimental sciences"[68]

Standard three-year degrees were introduced in 1973[69] and the numbers of students following the Foundation Year course have steadily dwindled since. The Foundation Year has never quite been formally discontinued, however, and remains an option for prospective students who qualify for entry into Higher Education, but lack subject-specific qualifications for specific degree programmes.[70] By contrast, the dual honours system at Keele remains distinctive and popular, with almost 90 per cent of current undergraduates reading dual honours.[49] Able to combine any two available subjects, students have a choice of over 500 degree courses in all.[6] The university also offers a study abroad semester to most of its students.[6]

As an experimental community, Keele was initially founded as a "wholly residential"[64] institution. Of the initial intake of 159 students in October 1950, 149 were resident on campus,[71] and it was required of the first professors appointed that they should also be in residence.[72] With the expansion of the university, total residency has long since been abandoned, but the proportion of full-time students resident on campus remains above average at 62% in 2011[73] having fallen from 70% in 2006.[54] A significant proportion of staff also currently live on campus.[73]

With the likes of other new educational establishments, the university did not escape political activism during the 1960s, especially left-wing radicalism,[74] having been dubbed, in its early years, a "School for Socialists"[75] and "The Kremlin on the Hill".[76] This left-wing radicalism, closely associated with its new curriculum, welfare state creation and working-class industrial setting, largely faded over time, and symbolically appeared to end in January 2008, when Keele became the last university in Britain to close its "industrial relations" department, though the courses in industrial relations continue to run and recruit well.[77]

Keele has a graduation rate of over 90%,[6] with 68.4% achieving 1sts or 2:1s.[62] 90% of undergraduates are state-educated (a figure exceeded by only two traditional universities in England), and over 25% of students are from working-class backgrounds.[6] In recent years Keele has attempted to boost this number by reaching out to local schools and hosting a summer school.[6] In February 2011, a Sutton Trust report revealed that 3·4% of students had received free school meals, whilst 7·9% had attended independent schools.[78] This compares the national figures for England of 14% eligible for free school meals,[79] and 7% independently educated.[80]


(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2017, national)
The Guardian[86]
(2017, national)
Times/Sunday Times[87]
(2017, national)

Keele has an average UCAS points on entry of 352 (2014/2015).[88] Typically three year degree courses ask for A'Level grades (or equivalent) of between AAB and BBC with the exception of Medicine.[89] Keele has made it a priority to attract applicants with ABB grades and above at A'Level. The university also aspires to enter the top 30 across league tables by 2020.[44]

In May 2012 Keele was listed by the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine as among the world's top 100 new (50 years old or less) universities.[90] The periodical stated that: "The 100 Under 50 aims to show which nations are challenging the US and the UK as higher education powerhouses – and offers insights into which institutions may be future world leaders". In September 2016, Keele was awarded 'University of the Year for Student Experience' (The Times and The Sunday Times annual University of the Year awards, 2017).[91]

UCAS Clearing[edit]

Keele has traditionally participated in the UCAS clearing process and it has become customary for the university to lower its requirements. For example, in September 2016, the university drastically reduced its academic demands to 200 UCAS points or higher (equivalent to 2 A'Levels at grade B) in 60 of 69 dual and single honours degree subjects with vacancies remaining.[92] This is a drop of a third A'Level grade against initial prospectus demand published in the year of entry. According to the university "Here at Keele we are interested in a broad range of qualities, not just points on entry. We would very much like to learn more about you, your interests, your experience outside of school or college and your motivation."[92] Remaining disciplines in Clearing demanding higher than 200 UCAS points were Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, Chemistry (MChem), Computer Science (MComp), Natural Sciences, Pharmaceutical Science, Technology and Business, Rehabilitation Science, Social Work and Pharmacy.


According to the National Student Survey (NSS) and excluding private or specialist institutions, the University ranked 1st for Student Satisfaction in 2014, 2015 and 2016 (jointly with St Andrews University) amongst broad-based educational establishments.[93] The NSS is aimed at final year undergraduates, gathering opinions about their experience of their courses and the institution. It is conducted independently and a key quality indicator of higher education in the UK.[94] In 2015, disciplines that scored highest included Education, Geology, Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Biochemistry, English and Mathematics.[44]


Keele submitted 60%[44] of staff in the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and ranked 57 of 128 institutions by Grade Point Average (GPA)[8] The University scored particularly well in Public health, Health services and Primary care.[95] Medical research includes detecting Parkinson's disease early,[96] and using Stem cell research to aid the healing process.[97] The cochlear implant was developed in the Department of Communication and Neuroscience at Keele. Other notable medical research includes attempts to explain the evolution of the human brain,[98] looking into links between cannabis and mental illness (cited in the debate on 2009 reclassification debate),[99][100] as well as tumour and cancer research.[101][102]

Sociological research includes middle class behaviour[103] especially findings that suggested that the 'law-abiding majority' theory was a myth,[104] and that middle class persons were more likely to commit crimes than commonly believed.[105][106][107] Other research has been undertaken into the effectiveness of social work,[108] including care for the elderly.[109] Educational research has shown how music can help a child develop in school,[110] and how health and safety had affected British children.[111] Other research has shown how e-mails have made communication more complex.[112] The university has also undertaken sports-related research projects,[113] and has worked with the Premier League to develop technology for detecting offside players.[114] Keele academics have also conducted research into how women perceived sport.[115]

In August 2009, university astronomers, led by David Anderson, discovered the first planet that orbits in the opposite direction to the spin of its star.[116] The planet was named WASP-17b.[117] In 2010 Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston won the Ig Nobel prize for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain.[118] In 2010 a medical centre in Newport, Shropshire was completed, for students to learn in real medical situations and research medical sciences.

Keele University Concourse on a Winter Morning

Benchmarking Group[edit]

As part if its 2015-20 strategic planning and in order to determine its relative performance, Keele has decided to use a benchmark of 15 key establishments. These include Birmingham, Essex, East Anglia, Exeter, Hull, Kent, Lancaster, Leicester, Liverpool, Loughborough, Manchester, Nottingham, Sussex, Warwick and York.[119]

Mission Groups[edit]

Despite previous solicitation, Keele decided to remain outside any lobbying groups allowing the university to develop its own identity and retain its academic independence and impartiality. According to ex-Vice-Chancellor Nick Foskett, commenting on the Russel Group (RG), belonging to such body is contrary to innovation by creating a hierarchy where research funding is more likely to be allocated to universities associated with that group whilst excluding smaller institutions which may have, albeit, an outstanding track record in a particular field. Remaining non-aligned, instead, enables a university to avoid conforming to an overarching body.[120] However, with the need to attract a greater number of home (and particularly lucrative overseas) students, this decision may come to be revisited.

International Partnerships[edit]

International partnerships include but are not limited to University of Copenhagen; University of Bergen; University of Jyväskylä; University of Iceland; Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences (BRSU); Uppsala University; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; University of Limerick; University of Goteborg; Masaryk University; Universidad de Alcala; Concordia University, Montreal; University of Alberta; University of Ottawa; York University; Macquarie University; Western Sydney University; Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia; SUNY Plattsburgh; University of Texas at San Antonio ; University of Utah; Loyola University New Orleans; University of Tennessee at Knoxville; Tokyo Metropolitan University; Nagasaki University.[121]


As per Statement of Accounts for 2014/15 released by the University, total income for the year ending 31rst July 2015 was just over £134M with a total expenditure of £127.2M. This amounted to a consolidated surplus of £7.4M and a slight increase of £1.2M on a yearly basis.[122] For 2014/15, income was primarily derived from academic fees raking £66.7M (49.6% of total income) with home and EU students accounting for £49.6M followed by international students with £15.5M, short course fees £1.3M and research and training support grants approximately £0.3M.[123] The University has continued to invest in capital projects with the refurbishments of the Walter Moberley and Huxley buildings, an upgrade to the Sports Centre facilities and a new HR/Payroll system.[124]


Keele University Library
Keele University Library.jpg
Country United Kingdom
Type Academic library
Established 1962 (1962)
Location Keele University, Newcastle Under Lyme
Items collected books, journals, newspapers, magazines, maps, prints, drawings and manuscripts
Size 590,000 volumes[125]
300,000 ebooks
Legal deposit Included in the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003
Access and use
Access requirements Union Square
Members Students and staff of Keele University
Other information
Director Paul Reynolds

Keele University Library celebrated its first 50 years in 2012.


The university library had humble beginnings not on-campus. When the university was founded in 1948, the librarian's office was located above a public house in Stoke, near the Town Hall.[126] In 1952, the old Sneyd Library was used with 20,000 items which increased to 70,000 by 1954.[127] By 1955, 155,000 volumes were accounted for, necessitating 12 full-time staff. Later, the Senate Room in Keele Hall was used to house the material. However, it was clear that a new building was required. The University Grants Committee provided necessary funding, £290,000 towards the building, £48,000 towards official furniture and equipment. Work officially started in 1961 with opening by Sir Sydney Roberts, then vice-chancellor of Cambridge University and president of the Library Association. Additional expansion of the library was completed in 1966. By the early 1970s, the library was able to accommodate 750 readers and 600,000 books.

Finding the material[edit]

Without benefactors, a major problem was finding the original source material. Ebooks did not exist and physical copies were required. Stanley Stewart, a Glasgow University graduate, appointed University Librarian, roamed the UK, from one second-hand bookshop to another, reviewing a number of volumes as well as public libraries soliciting unwanted duplicate copies. In 1954, Stewart received a call from a colleague at the Edinburgh University, declaring the library of Professor Charles Sarolea, recently deceased was for sale. It consisted of between 150,000 and 300,000 items.[128] A viewing was organized and agreement reached with the trustees to the purchase of 120,000 books at a cost of £1348. However, the books were in Edinburgh and removing the items without delay was one of the conditions of the agreement. A price per ton was fixed with British Road Services and the books arrived, first in a Methodist church school where each was sorted and catalogued. When the school lease expired in 1957, a disused brickworks in Madeley was briefly used to house the books before movement to the new building on-campus in 1961. Today, a third of total volumes are available in electronic format.


The library catalogue and circulation system was automated in 1990.[127] In 1993, the Computer Centre merged with the Library, renamed Keele Information Services (KIS). The library allowed for new PC labs and an IT Helpdesk to assist students. In 2005, following students' requests, a group study area was incorporated in the short-loan library. With further upgrade in 2006, a self-service digitized counter was opened and refurbishment of different library wings. The library is now opened 24/7 during each semester. In January 2017, the campus library suffered a major flooding incident with the top floor closed to students.[129]

Health resources[edit]

With the founding of the Keele University School of Medicine, a health library is available to both Keele students and National Health Service (NHS) staff at the Royal Stoke University Hospital. An IT suite complements the material with 60 workstations.[130]

Library collections[edit]

Student life[edit]

Keele University Student Union

Student Union[edit]

Keele University Students' Union organises social activities throughout the year. There are student socials most nights, with Rewind and a fortnightly "Flirt!" night. The union has several bars: The Scruffy Squirrel, Blueprint and K2, and restaurants: Blend and Munch, along with stalls outside, including a Farmer's Market every Tuesday. The Students' Union building underwent a major refurbishment that was completed in September 2012. In 2013 it ranked fifth in a national student satisfaction survey. There is a long tradition of professional advice and support, offered through "ASK" – Advice and Support at Keele, complementing the University's own student support services. The Keele Postgraduate Association, founded in 1963 as the Keele Research Association, has its own clubhouse and offers similar support to postgraduate and doctoral students.

Keele University Union Square

The students' union magazine Concourse was founded in 1964 and is issued about once a month.[131] It is editorially independent of both the university and the students' union.

Student Activity[edit]

The Keele team won the 1968 series of University Challenge.[132] The same team also made runner up to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (1979) in the 2002 special University Challenge: Reunited. In the early 1980s Keele attracted the attention of the national press and television news when some students founded a 'cuddling society' and a 'mass cuddle' was filmed in the car park outside the students' union.The post-modern sculpture situated outside Keele's library was stolen by a visiting sports team, only to be later retrieved and securely fitted. In 2005 the same statue was damaged in protest against the university's policy of fining its undergraduate students.

Bus Serving Keele Campus

In 2007, Keele students were responsible for getting Keele featured as a location on the UK "Here and Now" version of the traditional board game Monopoly. People in the UK had an opportunity to vote for which places should make the board, and Keele was the highest "wild-card" location which made it on. It even finished higher on the board than London, and takes the place of "Fleet Street" in the game.[133] Later that year, Keele students won a competition hosted by O2 via Facebook called "The battle for the UK's favourite university", scoring over 172,000 points by uploading photos, videos and making wall posts on the group. The prize for winning the competition was a party at their students' union, hosted by O2.

Student Radio[edit]

There is also a student radio station called KUBE Radio (Keele University Broadcasting Enterprises), broadcast over the Internet. In 2008 it was recognized as the most internationally acclaimed student radio station, with awards for Best Online Only Radio Station in both the New York Festivals and the European Radio Awards.

Keele University Playing Field

Student Sports[edit]

Keele has a tradition of participation in many different sports, ranging from rugby to lacrosse and dodgeball. Sports teams and issues raised are managed by the Athletic Union. The leisure centre is one of the largest dry leisure complexes in Staffordshire.[134] The centre has two national standard sports halls, a single court gymnasium, a fitness centre, dance studio and climbing wall. Outside there is an all weather floodlit AstroTurf pitch, tennis courts and extensive playing fields. It is also the first university centre in the UK to offer a full "Kinesis" gym facility.[135]

Keele University Sports Centre hosts the matches of Newcastle (Staffs) Volleyball Club, providing around 110 tiered seats with the perfect view of some of the best matches in English Volleyball. The university also hosts the "Keele International Cup", formerly the "Umbro International Cup", an international youth football tournament which attracts several football teams from around the world. A notable former competitor in the tournament is former Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham, who played for the Manchester United Academy back when the tournament was still being held in Manchester.[136] Keele University Men's Football Club took home the men's title in 2014.

Keele University All-Weather Football Pitch

In 2012, Keele University also took part in the first official inter-university Muggle Quidditch match, winning and thus becoming the top ranked team in the country. The sport has since expanded and Keele have remained one of the forerunners, finishing in second place at the British Quidditch Cup in November 2013. The university also hosted 8 teams for the Northern Cup in March 2014.


Since 2007, Keele University's Athletic Union has played an annual multi-sports varsity series against local rivals Staffordshire University. The varsity match occurs at both universities sports facilities, alternating between the venues each year. Sports included in the contest include football, cricket, rugby, badminton, lacrosse, swimming, volleyball, netball, hockey, fencing, tennis, basketball and frisbee. Keele has won the varsity trophy for the past six years consecutively, winning in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Staffordshire University won in 2007 and 2009.


Coat of arms[edit]

The coat of arms was adapted from that belonging to the Sneyd family[137] but the motto has not changed. However. additions have been made to the shield including the colours red and yellow to represent those of the County of Staffordshire as well as the chevron. The Stafford knot for Stafford, the Fleur-de-Lys for Burton upon Trent and the Fret which depicts the historical association with the textile industry of Stoke-on-Trent. Rodin's Le Penseur is also represented amidst a wreath of laurel vert.

Academic dress[edit]

The academic gowns reflects the colours of the County of Staffordshire and are either yellow or red and yellow. Higher Doctorates utilize purple and red whilst the college of fellows use red and gold.[138]


In 2011, the university unveiled a new logo with the shield and motifs of the coat of arms returning but green now added to associate the university's North Staffordshire rural campus setting and overall commitment to the environment.[139] In November 2016, the Vice-Chancellor decided not to go ahead with a new logo for Keele, preferring to consider University branding and messaging as part of the overall strategy for 2020 and beyond. Although there was a view that the proposed blue logo captured the current identity of Keele as a modern university with a strong heritage, the 3D nature did not go down well and there was desire expressed from students that there should be red retained within it.[140]

Notable people[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

Keele University was featured in Marvellous, the biographical film about honorary graduate Neil Baldwin broadcast on BBC Two in September 2014. Many scenes in the film revisited his time at the university and the start of his friendship with Keele graduate Malcolm Clarke. In 2015, the film was nominated for three BAFTA Awards, winning best single drama, with actress Gemma Jones also winning best supporting actress. Toby Jones who played Neil Baldwin in the film was nominated for best leading actor.


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External links[edit]