Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a British postgraduate and research-based public university specialising in science, engineering, technology and management. Cranfield was founded as the College of Aeronautics in 1946. Through the 1950s and 1960s, the development of aircraft research led to growth and diversification into other areas such as manufacturing and management, and in 1967, to the founding of the Cranfield School of Management. In 1969, the College of Aeronautics was renamed the Cranfield Institute of Technology, was incorporated by Royal Charter, gained degree awarding powers, and became a university. In 1993, it adopted its current name.[2]

Cranfield University
Cranfield University coat of arms
Former names
Cranfield Institute of Technology
College of Aeronautics
MottoLatin: Post Nubes Lux;
"After clouds light"[1]
Established1946, incorporated by Royal Charter and university status in 1969
ChancellorBaroness Young of Old Scone
Vice-ChancellorSir Peter Gregson
Administrative staff
Students3,935 (2016/17)
(all postgraduates)
CampusRural (both)
AffiliationsACU, PEGASUS

Cranfield University has two campuses: the main campus is at Cranfield, Bedfordshire, and the second is at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom at Shrivenham, southwest Oxfordshire.[3] The main campus is unique in the United Kingdom (and Europe) for having its own semi-operational airport  Cranfield Airport  and its own aircraft, used for teaching and research.


College of Aeronautics (1946-1969)

Cranfield University was formed in 1946 as the College of Aeronautics, on the then Royal Air Force base of RAF Cranfield. A major role was played in the development of the college by Roxbee Cox, later Lord Kings Norton, who was appointed to be the first governor of the college in 1945 and then served as vice-chair and (from 1962) chair of the board. He led the drive for the college to diversify, with the Cranfield University School of Management being established in 1967, and petitioned successfully for a royal charter and degree awarding powers. When these were granted in 1969, he became the first chancellor of the Cranfield Institute of Technology, serving until 1997.[4][5]

Cranfield Institute of Technology (1969-1993)

The Cranfield Institute of Technology was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1969, giving the institution its own degree-awarding powers and making it a full university in its own right.[6][7][2]

In 1975 the National College of Agricultural Engineering, founded in 1963 at Silsoe, Bedfordshire, was merged with Cranfield and run as Silsoe College.[8]

An academic partnership with the Royal Military College of Science (RMCS) at Shrivenham was formed in 1984. RMCS, whose roots can be traced back to 1772, is now a part of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom and from 2009 has been known as "Cranfield Defence and Security". RMCS became wholly postgraduate in c.2007 with undergraduate courses moved elsewhere.

Cranfield University (1993-present)

In 1993 the institution's Royal Charter was amended changing its name to Cranfield University.[6][7][2] A decade later in 2003, Cranfield became wholly postgraduate and the Shrivenham site admitted its last undergraduates.[9]

In 2007, the University's first international campus was opened by the Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, located in the Torrens Building in Adelaide, alongside the Carnegie Mellon University. It offered short-term postgraduate degrees in defence management and technology, in partnership with local institutions and using some distance learning courses. However South Australia's "defence boom" did not materialise and its failure to attract enough students caused the closure of the campus in 2010.[10][11][12]

In 2009 Silsoe College was closed and its activities were relocated to the main campus at Cranfield.[8]

Location and campus

Location of Cranfield and Shrivenham campuses in England

Cranfield campus is approximately 50 miles (80 km) north of central London and adjacent to the village of Cranfield,[13] Bedfordshire. The nearest large towns are Milton Keynes and Bedford, the centres of which are both about 8 miles (13 km) away. Cambridge is about 30 miles (48 km) east.

Shrivenham is about 73 miles (117 km) west of London, adjacent to Shrivenham village, 7 miles (11 km) from the centre of the nearest town, Swindon, and around 23 miles (37 km) from Oxford. The Cranfield campus sits within the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor where there are plans to link these cities and stimulate economic growth.[14] There is also a proposal for a rapid transit system between (an expanding) Milton Keynes and the Campus, although this is still at an early concept stage.[15]

Technology Park

There are a number of companies located on the Cranfield University Technology Park ranging from large international companies to small start-ups. Major companies on the park include:

  • The Nissan Technical Centre[16] Europe, which designs and develops cars for the European market. The NTC Europe facility occupies 19,700 square metres (0.0076 square miles) of the Technology Park, representing an investment of £46m by Nissan.
  • Innovation Centre: the Technology Park is also the location for a large number of smaller companies.

Prior to 2016:

  • Trafficmaster plc[17] occupied a 10-acre (40,000 m2) site for its European Headquarters. A leading company in telematics, Trafficmaster's advanced technology enables cars and roads to be used more efficiently.

Milton Keynes

Cranfield University is the academic partner in project with Milton Keynes Council to establish an undergraduate campus, code-named MK:U, in nearby Milton Keynes.[18][19] The plan anticipates opening by 2023, with a campus in Central Milton Keynes.[19] In January 2019, the partners announced an international competition to design a new campus near the Central railway station.[20] In May 2019, Santander Bank announced a 'seed funding' grant of £30M to help with building and initial running costs.[19] On 4 July 2019, the shortlisted proposals for the campus were announced.[21] On 30 July 2019, the evaluation panel announced that Hopkins Architects had produced the winning design.[22]

Organisation and governance


The University's motto, post nubes lux, means 'after clouds light'.[1] It is depicted on the University coat of arms which was introduced when the University was awarded its Royal Charter.[23]




The academic schools are:

Academic disciplines

Cranfield University’s specialist areas of focus, or Cranfield themes, aims to bring a range of academic disciplines together in order to tackle the grand challenges facing the world within a range of industrial and commercial sectors. These are Water, Agrifood, Energy and Power, Aerospace, Manufacturing, Transport Systems, Defence and Security and Business/Management.

Within Cranfield University’s postgraduate environment, the academic disciplines work closely together, blending as they do in the commercial world and industry to deliver real world solutions.[27]

  • Aeronautical engineering
  • Agriculture and agrifood
  • Automation and control systems
  • Business and management
  • Chemical engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Clean energy
  • Computer sciences
  • Cyber Security
  • Design and innovation
  • Ecology and sustainability
  • Economics and finance
  • Electrical and electronic engineering
  • Energy and power
  • Engineering
  • Environmental sciences
  • Geography
  • Geosciences
  • Instruments and instrumentation
  • Design and innovation
  • International relations
  • Life sciences
  • Manufacturing engineering
  • Materials sciences and engineering
  • Mathematics and statistics
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Mechanics
  • Meteorology and atmospheric sciences
  • Military sciences
  • Physics
  • Plant and soil science
  • Psychology
  • Renewable energy
  • Robotics
  • Social sciences
  • Systems sciences
  • Transportation science and technology
  • Water sciences

Academic profile

Reputation and rankings

Global rankings
CWTS Leiden (2019)[28]337

As an exclusively postgraduate university, Cranfield University is excluded from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, The Times World Rankings, The Complete University Guide and The Guardian, which focuses on helping prospective undergraduate students to compare universities. As the university is postgraduate, direct comparison with undergraduate institutions is difficult. Some key facts and figures are:

  • Cranfield University is in the top 1% of institutions in the world for alumni who hold CEO positions at the world's top companies according to the Centre for World University Rankings, 2017.[29]
  • Cranfield School of Management’s full-time one-year MBA programme was named 7th in the world and 1st in the UK and its MSc in Finance and Management was named 6th in the world and 2nd in the UK by the Times Higher Education/Wall Street Journal in 2018.[30]
  • Cranfield School of Management’s is ranked 80th in the world for Business and Economics by THE 2018.[31]
  • Cranfield University is ranked 39th (2019) in the world and was ranked 27th in the world (2015) for mechanical, aeronautical and manufacturing engineering by the QS World University Rankings in 2015.[32]
  • Cranfield University is ranked 9th in UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) for Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing engineering. It is ranked 2nd in terms of Research Power, and 6th in terms of research Output Quality with 81% achieving 3*-4* research activity.
  • Cranfield has received the Queen's Anniversary Prize five times: in 2005 for Further and Higher Education for the Fellowship in Manufacturing Management (FMM) programme; in 2007 for its role in humanitarian demining;[33] in 2011 for contribution to aviation safety through research and training in accident investigation;[34] in 2015 for its work in water and sanitation;[35] and in 2017 for its research and education in large-scale soil and environmental data for the sustainable use of natural resources.[36]
  • Students on Cranfield's Global Security programme were awarded the Imbert Prize in 2006,[37] 2008[38] and 2009[39] for the development of ideas for the advancement of risk and security management in the UK.


In 2015/16, 49% of Cranfield University's students were from the United Kingdom, 25% from Europe and 26% from the rest of the world. Cranfield University's student to staff ratio is 5:1, second among all UK universities.[29]

More than half of Cranfield University's students are over 30 years of age.[29]


Cranfield University has strong links with business, industry and governments. Cranfield University has mutually beneficial relationships with nearly 1,500 organisations around the world including small owner-managed SMEs to large multinational conglomerates; British and international universities, non-government organisations and governments. Some of Cranfield's close partnerships include Airbus, Rolls-Royce Group, Grant Thornton, BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Ford, BP, British Airways, PWC, Jacobs, Metro Bank, L'Oréal, Royal Dutch Shell, Jaguar Land Rover, Oracle Corporation, PepsiCo, Unilever, to name just a few.[40]

Cranfield University has close links with more than 130 universities in the Americas, Asia and Oceania, Europe, Middle East and Africa.[41] The University collaborates with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) on SUSS’s BEng Aerospace Systems[42].

The IMRC - Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre at Cranfield University is a project funded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) undertaking research that addresses issues identified in the UK government’s High Value Manufacturing strategy.[43]

Student life

Facilities at the Cranfield University campus include a sports centre, which incorporates a fitness centre and aerobics studio, playing fields, sports pitches and several tennis courts. There are wide range of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars available for students and staff.

Students' union

Cranfield Students Association (CSA) is the students' union and runs the main student bar, cafe and shop on the Cranfield campus. It is based in building 114 close to the centre of the campus.

The CSA is run by a team of elected students and supported by a small team of staff. The aim of the CSA is to support and represent Cranfield University students, promote student welfare and organise social, cultural and sporting activities.

The student newspaper is called Entropy.

Student accommodation

At the Cranfield University campus there are a wide range of accommodation options for full time students, from halls of residence to shared houses, apartments for couples and houses for families.

For part time students, there are two options available - the 186 room Cranfield Management Development Centre and the 114 room Mitchell Hall, both of which are situated on campus.

Notable alumni

Cranfield University has a number of notable academic staff and alumni, including politicians, business people, entrepreneurs, engineers, authors, and TV personalities.

Cranfield University is in the top 1% of institutions in the world for alumni who hold CEO positions at the world's top companies according to the Centre for World University Rankings, 2017.[29]

See also


  1. "The Arms of the University". Cranfield University. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  2. "Cranfield College of Aeronautics history". Cranfield University. n.d. p. 1. Retrieved 28 December 2017. The institution ... was granted university status in 1969 becoming the Cranfield Institute of Technology and it changed its name to Cranfield University in 1993
  3. "How to find us - Cranfield University at Shrivenham". Cranfield University. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  4. "History and heritage". Cranfield University. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  5. "Cranfield University". Lord Kings Norton. Cranfield University. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  6. Swain, Harriet (23 January 2012). "Is Cranfield's postgraduate-only university a model for the future?". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  7. "Cranfield University". The Independent. 23 July 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  8. "Silsoe college remembered on new homes estate". Bedford Today. 15 December 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  9. "Analysis: Military redeploys intellectual might". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
  10. Parsons, Alexander (7 July 2017). "Torrens Building". Adelaidia. Retrieved 15 November 2019. This entry was first published in S.A.’s Greats: The men and women of the North Terrace plaques, edited by John Healey (Historical Society of South Australia Inc., 2001).
  11. Cohen, David (8 August 2007). "Coalition courses". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  12. King, Malcolm (4 February 2015). "Adelaide's "uni city" dream is over". In Daily. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  13. "Cranfield Village Newsletter including a history and information on the airfield". Cranfield Parish Council. Archived from the original on 7 June 2007.
  14. "Sajid Javid exclusive interview: Garden towns and expressway to sprout up in Oxbridge corridor". The Times. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  15. "National Infrastructure Commission - Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford Future Planning Options Project Final Report" (PDF). National Infrastructure Commission. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  16. "Nissan UK". Nissan, UK. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
  17. "Trafficmaster plc". Trafficmaster plc. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
  18. "Project Two: MK:U A new University for Milton Keynes". MK2050 Futures Commission. October 2017. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  19. "Santander provides £30m boost to plans for innovative new university in Milton Keynes". MKFM. 28 May 2019. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  20. Fulcher, Merlin (31 January 2019). "Competition: MK:U, Milton Keynes". The Architects' Journal. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  21. Fulcher, Merlin (4 July 2019). "Milton Keynes £188m university contest finalists revealed". Architects' Journal. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  22. "Milton Keynes university contest winner revealed". Architects Journal. 30 July 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  23. "Cranfield University History". Cranfield University. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  24. "Sir John O'Reilly". Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK. Archived from the original on 7 June 2007. Retrieved 9 June 2007.
  25. "Sir John O'Reilly". Cranfield University - Biography. Archived from the original on 18 July 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
  26. "Professor Sir Peter Gregson FREng". Cranfield University - Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  27. "Cranfield University Academic Disciplines". Cranfield University. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  28. "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019 - PP top 10%". CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019.
  29. "Cranfield University Fact and Figures". Cranfield University Fact and Figures. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  30. Cranfield University. "Times Higher Education/Wall Street Journal Rankings".
  31. THE World University Rankings. "Cranfield University THE Rankings".
  32. QS World Rankings. "QS World Rankings by Subject 2015".
  33. "Content not found".
  34., //. "Winners of the Queen's Anniversary Prizes announced".
  35. "Bedfordshire onsunday has closed".
  36. "Cranfield University Rankings and Awards". Cranfield University Rankings and Awards. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  37. Sims, Brian (3 August 2006). "Burrill, Cahalane and Finch win Imbert Prizes". Info4Security. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
  38. "ASC lunch". Professional Security Magazine. 30 June 2008. Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
  39. Sims, Brian (30 June 2009). "Policing with a Brain: the 2009 ASC Annual Luncheon". Info4Security. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2009.
  40. "Cranfield University International Partnerships (Who we work with)". Cranfield University International Partnerships. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  41. "Cranfield University International Partnerships". Cranfield University International Partnerships. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  42. "Collaborations with Overseas Universities". SUSS. 29 May 2018. Archived from the original on 29 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  43. Government Opportunities retrieved 11 April 2013
  44. "Karan Bilimoria - Founder of Cobra Beer". London Speaker Bureau.
  45. "John McFarlane OBE, awarded honorary degree from Cranfield". Cranfield School of Management.

Further reading

  • Barker, Revel (1996). Field of Vision; Cranfield University: the first fifty years. Cranfield University Press. ISBN 1-871315-60-3.

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