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Writtle College

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Title: Writtle College  
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Writtle College

Writtle College
Motto Time Tries the Truth In Everything
Established 1893
Type Public
Principal Doctor Stephen Waite
Patron Alan Titchmarsh
Admin. staff 100+ academic/teaching
15 Research
50+ other academic
80+ other
Students 8,825 [1]
Undergraduates 1,175 [1]
Other students 7,645 FE[1]
Location Chelmsford, Essex, UK
Colours Scarlet and Bronze Yellow

Writtle College (near Chelmsford, Essex) is one of the largest land-based university colleges in the UK; it is also one of the oldest. Set in the Essex countryside on a 220 hectare estate, Writtle, previously known as Writtle Agricultural College, is a Partner Institution of the University of Essex and provides FE and HE programmes. It also offers apprenticeships and short courses.

The College is very specialist and offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees as well as high quality research for a number of subject areas.

About the College

The College has diversified to meet the changing demands of new students. There has been major investment in IT and science facilities, with free college network access for every student resident on campus. The college has recently built a new Lecture Theatre complex, numerous halls of residence and refurbished its Recreation Centre, including its student venue, The Baa and Chef.

Doctor Stephen Waite was appointed as the new Principal in Spring 2013.[2] The college is structured into three schools: Sport, Equine and Animal Science; Sustainable Environments; Writtle School of Design.

The front of Writtle College
The 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 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’.[3]

In 2011, QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) identified the 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 College’s approach to quality enhancement is characterised by a strategic commitment to improve the quality of students’ learning opportunities linked to the College’s own values and vision.’

The 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.’[4]

Writtle College student Francine Gilman with Matt Baker on BBC Countryfile

In July 2013, the College made its debut on national BBC television programme Countryfile. The focus for this episode was on the 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 School of Design (WSD)

Writtle College has a design school (WSD), which was voted 4th in the country by the Guardian League Table in 2012.[5]

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

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

Recently WSD designed a temporary radio structure at the College and transmitted a set of live art broadcasts.[6]

Annually, WSD 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.

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


The 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.

One of the Writtle College gardens with accommodation in the background

Social and living

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 College Summer Ball 2011

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 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.. 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 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" [7]). The floristry team also won a Silver award for their exhibition "Rock Around the Clock" in 2013 ([8]).

The 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. ([9]) ([10]).

Writtle College alumnus Liam Sapsford won the 'Garden Designer of the Year' award at the Grand Designs Live Show 2014 ([11]).


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."[12]

Cinders Trophy

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.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Table 0a - All students by institution, mode of study, level of study, gender and domicile 2005/06".  
  2. ^ Writtle College announces new Principal | News | Farmers Guardian
  3. ^ 26 July 2012 - Record amount awarded for research to reduce animal experiments and improve animal welfare - Media release - BBSRC
  4. ^ Institutional audit: Writtle College, November 2010
  5. ^ University guide 2012: Art and design | Education |
  6. ^ Writtle Calling set to broadcast | What's On | Design Week
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ College Patron - Writtle College

External links

  • Writtle College - official website
  • Writtle School of Design - official website

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