Writtle University College

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Writtle University College
Motto Time Tries the Truth In Everything
Type Public
Established 1893
Principal Doctor Stephen Waite
Chancellor Anne Jenkin, Baroness Jenkin of Kennington
Administrative staff
100+ academic/teaching
15 Research
50+ other academic
80+ other
Students 805 HE (2015/16)[1]
Other students
7,645 FE[2]
Address Lordship Road,
Essex, CM1 3RR
, Chelmsford, Essex, UK
Colours Scarlet and Bronze Yellow
Website http://www.writtle.ac.uk/
Writtle University College logo.jpg

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]

The University College is very specialist and offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as high quality 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

The University College has diversified to meet the changing demands of new students. There has been major investment in IT and science facilities, with free university college network access for every student resident on campus. 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 and has since changed his job title to Vice-Chancellor.[5]

The front of Writtle University College

The University College has a focus on quality and continues to increase in UCAS tariff points required for entry. It is popular with the local population, staging community events such as NGS Charity garden open days and offering taster days to schools and colleges.

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

One of the University College research staff, Dr Jon Amory, recently won funding from the BBSRC for the "Assessment of Dairy Cow Welfare through Predictive Modelling of Individual and Social Behaviour."[6]

In 2011, QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) identified the University College's overarching commitment to student support as a notable feature of best practice, commending its "comprehensive student support system and the demonstrable commitment of staff to the support and enhancement of student learning." Enhancement was also separately commended as a feature of best practice in its own right, the review observing that: "The University College's approach to quality enhancement is characterised by a strategic commitment to improve the quality of students' learning opportunities linked to the University College's own values and vision."

The University College is also committed to improving the quality and currency of its programmes by 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 groundbreaking 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, taching agricuture 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.

There are three unique design studios that students use, providing them with their own space to express their ideas and designs.

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, fully equipped science building and is based on a very large and beautifully 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 brand 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 vital rider position research and allows for the safe teaching and lecturing of students on various hands on tasks. The College also has SpermVision. This state of the art sperm analyser is used in research.

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 living[edit]

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. 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 tri[s 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 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 has been College Patron since 2001 and annually attends one of the College graduation ceremonies.

Titchmarsh is quoted as saying "Writtle has a wonderful reputation. It is one of the very best horticultural colleges in the UK and I hope I will be able to help promote the college in my capacity as patron."[22]

Cinders Trophy[edit]

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 Mosaic[edit]

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 also[edit]


  1. ^ "2015/16 Students by HE provider, level, mode and domicile" (XLSX). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  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 2007-05-15. Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  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. ^ 26 July 2012 - Record amount awarded for research to reduce animal experiments and improve animal welfare - Media release - BBSRC
  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 2016-05-29. 
  24. ^ "Mosaic Light Well". CADE. 2006. Retrieved 2016-05-29. 


External links[edit]

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