University of Gloucestershire

The University of Gloucestershire is a public university based in Gloucestershire, England. It is located over three campuses, two in Cheltenham and one in Gloucester, namely Francis Close Hall, The Park, Oxstalls and The Centre for Art and Photography being near to Francis Close Hall.[5]

University of Gloucestershire
MottoLatin: In animo et veritate
Motto in English
In Spirit and Truth
Established2001 - gained University Status
has earlier roots in 19th century[1][2]
Endowment£2.4 m (2015)[3]
ChancellorRennie Fritchie, Baroness Fritchie
Vice-ChancellorStephen Marston
Students9,220 (2017/18) [4]
England, UK

51°53′16″N 2°05′20″W
AffiliationsERASMUS, BCA

The university is the recent successor of a large number of merged, name-changed and reformed institutions of further and higher education. Its history spans nearly two centuries. It originates from the merger of two distinct strands of educational provision in Gloucestershire being that provided by Local Government and that founded by the Anglican Church.[1][2] The university traces its earliest Civic history to the Cheltenham Mechanics' Institute in 1834, and to the Cheltenham Training College in its Church history, established in 1847, by the Reverend Francis Close.[6][7] Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education was created in 1990 from the two distinct strands. In October 2001, the college was awarded University status.[6]

The university provides almost 100 undergraduate courses and around 57 taught post-graduate courses within eight schools.[8]

A 10-year Memorandum of Understanding exists between the university, Gloucestershire College and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College to support access to higher education.[9]


Predecessor colleges and institutes

The following are points in the history appearing in the timeline.

  • 1834 – Cheltenham Mechanics' Institute[10]
  • 1840 – Gloucester Mechanics' Institute
  • 1847 – Cheltenham Training College (Church Foundation)
  • 1852 – Cheltenham School of Art
  • 1920 – St Paul's College of Education
  • 1920 – St Mary's College of Education
  • 1967 – Gloucestershire College of Education
  • 1979 – College of St Paul and St Mary
  • 1980 – Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology from four other Local Authority colleges
  • 1990 – Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology (HE)
  • 1990 – Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education
  • 2001 – University of Gloucestershire

From 1992, Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education (CGCHE) was permitted to award first and postgraduate degrees and in 1998 it achieved research degree awarding powers. In 2001, the University of Gloucestershire was awarded university status.[11]

Mechanics' Institutes

Mechanics' Institutes developed in the United Kingdom over the 19th century. A number formed the earliest roots of Universities and Colleges. The Cheltenham Mechanics Institute is associated with a notable historical incident. A speaker, George Holyoake, became the last person prosecuted and convicted for blasphemy following a public lecture he delivered at the Institute in April 1842.[12][13]

Anglican Foundation

The Anglican Foundation of the University of Gloucestershire evolved from the Christian Foundation of the former colleges of St. Mary and St. Paul, two of the institutions which came together to create the university. Until September 2011, Foundation Fellows played a significant role in the governance of the university. Following a review of governance by the university in 2010/11, it was agreed that Council should be responsible for appointing all its external members. Foundation Fellows are still eligible to apply to Council to become external members.[14]

2001-present day

In February 2012 Rennie Fritchie was announced as the new Chancellor succeeding Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Sir Henry Elwes and the former Bishop of Gloucester Michael Perham are Pro-Chancellors. As of August 2011, Stephen Marston holds the post of Vice-Chancellor.[15]


In 2009/10 several formerly senior figures in the university resigned. In November 2009, Paul Bowler, the deputy vice-chancellor resigned shortly after being suspended from his post only seven months after joining the institution. Paul Bowler, a former investment banker who joined Gloucestershire in May 2009, was on a week's leave when he was told not return to work. On 7 December, a university spokesperson said, "The deputy vice-chancellor Paul Bowler, has resigned. Financial benefits have not been sought by Mr Bowler, who is leaving of his own accord to pursue other interests".[16]

In December 2009 Dr. Sharp, Dean and Associate Pro Vice-chancellor, following his resignation, took up a post in the new UK Higher Education International Unit.[17]

The Vice-Chancellor, Patricia Broadfoot, resigned in March 2010,[18] during conflicting views on the financial health of the institution.[19] The precise circumstances of this resignation and the salary paid to her as recorded in the public accounts have attracted various media attention being the reported highest of all UK Vice-chancellors for the year.[20][21]

In May 2010, the Chancellor Lord Carey resigned.[22]

In September 2010, Paul Bowler was a witness in an employment tribunal case brought by a member of staff of the university under the 'whistleblowing' legislation – the Public Interest Disclosure Act.[23] The tribunal found for the complainant and outcome was reported in the higher education press.[24][25]

In March 2011, Paul Hartley resigned.[26]

2012 onwards

Stephen Marston, current Vice-Chancellor, has committed himself to listening to staff concerns.[27] He states 'new culture' being addressed and reports a new senior management Human Resources appointment.[28]

Since his appointment the university has been nominated for several awards for student support, including the Times Higher Leadership and Management awards for outstanding student services in 2014 and 2015,[29] and Outstanding Student Support by WhatUni.[30]

In 2015 applications rose by 6% – three times the national average – and the numbers confirming offers of places had increased by 18% when the official Ucas deadline passed.[31]


The university has three campuses located in Cheltenham and Gloucester.

The Park

The Park, Cheltenham, is the largest of the campuses and is the administrative centre. It is located in the Park district of Cheltenham. The estate dates from the 19th century and was originally designed as zoological, botanical and horticultural gardens.[32]

The Media School was relocated to the Park Campus in 2011 from the former Pittville campus. The new facilities include a newsroom, television & radio studios, edit suites, and teaching facilities. It has been awarded Skillset Media Academy status[33] and is part of the North by Southwest – The Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Skillset Media Academy Partnership.[34]

Student accommodation is available in the Park villas, Challinor, Eldon & Merrowdown and Eldon & Merrowdown Annexe located on and next to the campus, as well as Spa Court and Regency Halls across the town of Cheltenham. A partnership with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust was launched in May 2009 and the Park Campus grounds became designated as a community green space.[35][36] The garden includes over 900 trees, both native and ornamental, a shallow lake and a meadow with native species.

Francis Close Hall

Francis Close Hall site includes restored historic buildings close to Cheltenham's town centre. The campus can trace its history back to the Cheltenham Training College founded by the Revd. Francis Close in 1847.[6][37]

The campus is also home to the university's Special Collections and Archives service, the official repository for the historic records of the university and predecessor institutions.[38] It contains several special collections relating to Gloucestershire and beyond. The department is custodian of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Library, and curates and maintains the Gloucestershire Poets, Writers and Artists Collection, which includes works and artefacts relating to the Dymock Poets, Whittington Press, U A Fanthorpe, Michael Henry, James Elroy Flecker and the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail. Other collections include the Local Heritage Initiative Archive. The service is open to staff, students and the public.

The campus has a mix of Humanities, Education, Natural & Social Science and creative subjects.

Student accommodation is available in Shaftsbury Hall (on campus), Hardwick Halls and Regency Halls. Further accommodation includes St George's, St Mary's, Maidenhorn and Whitehart.

The Centre for Fashion, Art and Photography

The Hardwick Centre for Fashion, Art and Photography opened in 2011 and is in close proximity to Francis Close Hall. The purpose built studios cater for students studying a mixture of creative subjects including its Fine Art (undergraduate and postgraduate), Photography and Fashion degrees. There is a Gallery for public exhibitions. It has recently been renamed as The Centre for Fashion, Art and Photography.[5] .


The campus is located in Gloucester and re-opened in 2002. It was closed in August 1993. Following protests about the removal of higher education from the city, a solution was reached with Gloucester City Council.[39][40] The campus site is from a predecessor college. It was a purpose-built site for the Gloucestershire College of Domestic Science until 1962 and became renamed as the Gloucestershire College of Education in 1967. The College was closed in 1980 to be part of the merger of four Gloucestershire Colleges in Gloucester and Cheltenham to form Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology.[41][6]

The campus has range of sports facilities including a floodlit all-weather pitch, a fitness suite and laboratory facilities for a range of disciplines, including bio-assessment and a drumming laboratory, which has developed from the Clem Burke Drumming Project exploring the physical and psychological effects of drumming.[42]

Halls of residence were built on site in 2002 and house 175 students divided into 6 blocks (May, Birdlip, Cooper's, Crickley, Robinswood and Chalford). Additional Gloucester-based accommodation includes Ermin Hall and Upper Quay.[43]

A new £1.8 million performing arts centre at Oxstalls including four performance spaces and drama rooms opened in September 2015.[44]

In September 2018, the new School of Business and Technology, which was part of a £20 million development opened at Oxstalls.[45] This new building houses the Business, Accounting and Law courses.

Pittville Student Village

The universities' estates strategy outlines a 10-year investment plan to refurbish, upgrade and develop facilities which includes the Pittville Student Village project. In May 2013 some initial concepts and ideas for the redevelopment were presented. Plans included creating 450 extra bedrooms, to the existing 214 student rooms, plus a small retail unit and sports facilities.[46] Additional public consultation sessions in August and September 2014 presented plans to build additional accommodation to a total of 791 beds against widespread opposition from the local residents.[47] The plans for Pittville Student Village were approved by Cheltenham Borough Council's planning committee on 16 July 2015.[48] The new student village will increase the number of beds to 794 and also includes new office space for several administrative departments as well as sports facilities.[49] It is intended for the site to be ready for the start of the 2017 academic year.

Former campuses


The Pittville site is located on Albert Road, Cheltenham, and was the home of the Faculty of Media, Art and Communications. It was founded as Cheltenham School of Art over 150 years ago[6][50] The campus closed in 2011 with courses from the Faculty of Media, Arts and Technology located at Hardwick and the Park[51] and has since been reopened as a new student village.

Environmental sustainability

The university has had an environmental sustainability strategy since 1993, and was the first British university to meet the ISO 14001 environmental management standard.[52] In the People & Planet Green League 2016 it was ranked as the second greenest university in the UK.[53] The university is the only British institution to be consistently ranked in the top six of the league since its inception in 2007.[52] The university is also a regular winner at the EUAC Green Gown Awards, winning the award for Continuous Improvement in 2008 and 2014.[54] RCE Severn is a Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) in Sustainability Education based at the university. It is endorsed by the United Nations University and one of 85 similar centres throughout the world.[55]

Organisation and administration


The university is organised into eight schools of study:

  • School of Art and Design
  • School of Business and Technology
  • School of Education
  • School of Health and Social Care
  • School of Liberal and Performing Arts
  • School of Media
  • School of Natural and Social Sciences
  • School of Sport and Exercise



The University Council appointed Stephen Marston as Vice-Chancellor from August 2011.[57][58]

University Council

Council is the university's governing body and is responsible for the educational character and mission of the university, the approval of annual estimates of income and expenditure, the appointment of senior staff, and the Articles of Association that set out the formal governance arrangements of the university. Council currently comprises 18 members; 14 external members and 4 members from the university community, including the Vice-Chancellor, representatives for both academic and support members of staff, and the President of the Students' Union.

In January 2016, Professor Julian Crampton, former vice-chancellor at the University of Brighton was appointed Chair of Council.[59]

University Executive Committee

The University Executive Committee is responsible for all matters associated with the development and management of the university. University Executive Committee currently comprises nine members including the Vice-Chancellor as Chair.[60]


The University of Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire College and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College have formed a Strategic Alliance for higher education in Gloucestershire and the west of England, with the initiative to raise quality, range and accessibility of higher education in the county through stronger links between further and higher education.[61]

The University delivers programmes with several collaborative partners in the UK and in 5 countries overseas, including Malaysia and Zimbabwe.[62]

The university is also an active participant of the ERASMUS programme and the only UK university to be part of the BCA Programme offering semesters abroad, most notably with the USA.[63]

Gloucestershire Enterprise Partnership

The university became a partner with the GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership in 2013. The partnership secured over £7 million of funding to support enterprise, business development and business support services.[64]

The Growth Hub became operational from the Oxstalls campus in 2014. Businesses are able to access a diverse range of coordinated and integrated business services.[65]

Academic profile

The university provides almost 100 undergraduate courses covering a variety of subjects including Accounting and Law, Business Management, Computing, Journalism, Fine Art, Humanities, Biology, Geography, Social Science, Education and Sports within ten academic schools.

As well as providing part-time and full-time options for undergraduate study, the university has a number of courses available as Fast Track two-year full-time programmes.

The university provides over 50 taught post-graduate courses in the areas of: Accounting and Law, Business and Management; Computing, IT and Multimedia; Health and Social Care; Education; Humanities; Leisure; Media, Art and Design; Natural and Social Sciences and Sport and Exercise.

Teaching Fellowships

A number of members of staff hold National Teaching Fellowships.[66] The NTF scheme is open to staff whose teaching or support roles enhance the student learning experience at institutions in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The members of staff currently teaching at the University who are National Teaching Fellows (with the year they were awarded an NTF in brackets) are:

  • Dr Andy Pitchford, Director of Sport (2015)[67]
  • Dr Anne Goodenough, Professor of Applied Ecology (2013)[68]
  • Prof Nigel McLoughlin, Professor of Creativity and Poetics (2011)
  • Prof Adam Hart, Professor of Science Communication (2010)[69]
  • Prof Arran Stibbe, Professor of Ecological Linguistics (2009)[70]
  • James Derounian, Principal Lecturer in Countryside Planning (2007)[71]
  • Dr Kenneth Lynch, Reader in Geography (received while at Kingston University in 2004)[72]

Notable staff members

Adam Hart, Professor of Science Communication and National Teaching Fellow, who co-presented Hive Alive[73]and has made documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service.

Anne Dawson, Head of Media School, TV presenter with ITV News.[74]

Anita Navin, Head of the School of Sport and Exercise, Sky Sports netball commentator, who covered televised netball for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.[75]

Lindsey Dryden, Lecturer in Film Production, acclaimed British filmmaker who is an Emmy winner[76], and producer of Sundance Special Jury Award-winning film Unrest[77][78].

Tom Bradshaw, Course Leader in Sports Journalism and ports journalist for BBC Sport Online, BBC radio and The Guardian,[79] and The Independent.[80]

Richard Billingham, Professor of Fine Art, renowned photographer, film-maker and artist who has been a Turner prize nominee[81] and winner of the prestigious Deutsche Borse Group photography prize.[82]

Neil Towers, former director of the George Davies Centre for Retail Excellence, is Professor of Retail Marketing, and was appointed in 2014.[83]

Illustration lecturer Fumio Obata is a comic book author,[84] visual artist and animator

Senior lecturer in Criminology Dr Jane Monckton Smith is an author and part of the Home Office College of Policing[85] scrutiny panel for domestic abuse training.

Andy Pitchford is the Director of Sport at the university. Andy joined the university in 1996 and among his contributions he has supported enterprising students to create an international development programme, Sport Malawi.[86]

Acting Head of Humanities and Religion, Philosophy & Ethics lecturer, David Webster, is an author and blogger. In addition to scholarly works on Buddhism and desire, the nature of belief, and other topics in Buddhist studies and the Philosophy of Religion, David has also written about the blues, and death in religions. Dave was recently named by JISC as one of the '50 Most Influential HE Professionals Using Social Media',[87]

Partnership with Superdry

Global brand Superdry collaborates with the university's Fashion degree which sees the brand's design and creative teams provide expert industry advice, guidance and practical experience to fashion students.[88] Superdry are also one of the supporters of the Graphic Design programme.[89]

Your Future Plan

The university has developed Your Future Plan,[90] where every undergraduate student is guaranteed the support to create a personal career plan, which they start developing in their first year. It helps develop their presentation skills, volunteering, completing internships and work placements, working on live briefs and running sports teams and social clubs and societies.

Scholarships and financial support

The university charges £9,000 for new entrants in 2016/17 for UK and EU full-time students on undergraduate degree courses.[91] Foundation degrees are £7,500.[92] Fees for International Students outside the EU on undergraduate programmes are £11,750 per year.[93]

The University of Gloucestershire offers a range of financial support packages for undergraduate students commencing their studies in September 2016 as follows:[94]

  • Care Leavers Scholarship
  • Music scholarship
  • Partnership Bursary
  • Financial Assistance Fund
  • Sports Excellence Funds
  • Emergency short term loans
  • PGCE bursaries

Additionally the university offers unique sports refereeing scholarships supported by the Rugby Football Union, the Football Association, England Netball and the English Cricket Board.[95]

Awards and rankings

National rankings
Complete (2020)[96]99
Guardian (2020)[97]55
Times / Sunday Times (2020)[98]83
British Government assessment
Teaching Excellence Framework[99]Silver
  • The University carries a Silver rating in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework TEF, which rates participating universities as Gold, Silver or Bronze.
  • The University of Gloucestershire are equal 55th out of 121 universities in the Guardian University Guide 2019 University Guide 2019
  • The University is ranked 38th out of 132 for teaching quality and 44th out of 132 for overall student experience (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019).
  • The University’s overall satisfaction score is 3% higher than the average at 86% ranking them in joint 36th place out of 156 universities and HE colleges in the UK (National Student Survey, 2018) NSS 2018
  • The University of Gloucestershire is ranked in the top 20 for courses, lecturers and student support (Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018).
  • They are top 10 in the UK for high quality staff and lecturers as well as good personal relationships with teaching staff. (Times Higher Education Student Experience survey 2018). THE 2018
  • 95% of graduates went on to employment or further study in 2017, which is higher than the UK and England sector average (Destination of Leavers in Higher Education data 2018).
  • Graduates from the Business School courses earn more on average than their peers graduating from similar courses elsewhere in the country 1, 3 and 5 years after they graduated (Longitudinal Educational Outcomes, 2018) LEO
  • The university was ranked second in the People and Planet green league in 2017.[53]
  • The University has been training teachers since 1847 and is 'outstanding' in primary and secondary school training as rated by Ofsted in 2015.


Research at the university has been rated as World-Leading in five of its research areas. More than half of the work in seven out of the university's 12 submissions to the RAE was additionally recognised as of international quality, while all academic areas were judged to be of a quality that is recognised nationally.[100]

The university invests 12% of academic staff costs in research and scholarly activity. Its strategy states that all academic staff engage in 'research and scholarly activity' to the benefit of teaching and learning and allocated research time is used for a 'range of scholarship and research related activity, which may lead to publication, income generation, knowledge transfer, or practice-based outcomes…'[101]

The university pursues and supports four types of research activity:[102]

  • Postgraduate research being the supervision and training of postgraduate research students. This is funded via course fees and the Quality Related (QR) grant (Research Degree Programme funds);
  • Research and Scholarship being activity to support subject knowledge and pedagogy,professional practice, and the development of research-informed teaching. This is funded via (a) the Teaching grant, 185 hours research and scholarly activity time per person provided through the staff Academic Contract, (b) any additional time to be funded from Faculty investment against priorities identified in Business Plans;
  • Income generating research being commissioned or user-defined work for external agencies. This is funded via the Funding Agency and quantified/costed through the Project Implementation Management System (PIMS);
  • REF preparation (Research Excellence Framework assessment exercise) being research towards internationally excellent (3*) submissible outputs / impact. This is funded via the HEFCE QR grant.

Research Priority Areas

The university has six Research Priority Areas:[103]

  • Sport, Exercise, Health & Wellbeing
  • Environmental Dynamics & Governance
  • Applied Business Research
  • Being Human: Past, Present & Future
  • Innovation, Design & Technology
  • Learning & Professional Contexts

Student life

Students' Union

The University of Gloucestershire's Students' Union has four full-time officers and 11 part-time officers. The officers are voted for by students,[104] and the current president (2019/20) is Imaani Mitchell. The Students' Union provides a number of opportunities for students including volunteering and part-time work.[105] The Students' Union runs an annual summer ball.

The Students' Union supports the running of over 30 sports teams' societies ranging from Rugby, Netball and Hockey to Equestrian, Trampoline and Kendo. Societies include Beekeeping, RAG (Raising and Giving) and subject-based societies. The University of Gloucestershire competes in a sports varsity tournament every year playing against the University of Worcester and until 2015 remained undefeated for 10 years. The Varsity2015 events attracted controversy following scuffles between students from each University during the Rugby Union match. It is reported there were repeated chants of "Worcester's not a Uni, It's a sauce."

The Students' Union organises the Student-Led Teaching Awards which invites students to vote for outstanding teaching and support staff. The ceremony is held jointly with the university's Staff Excellence Awards at Cheltenham Town Hall.

Tone Radio is the official student radio station. It broadcasts from Park Campus and is run by the members. It was set up in 2006.[106]

Student services

The University of Gloucestershire launched the Degreeplus initiative in 2012 designed to give students the chance to increase their employability through volunteering, entrepreneurship and internships. A focus on skills development is channelled through the Degreeplus Award scheme, encouraging students to fully participate in university life, gain work-related experience and receive formal recognition for extra-curricular achievements.

The successful completion of the Degreeplus Award forms part of the learner's Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR)

Student Helpzones are located on each campus, where students can go to receive advice, support and assistance on any issues.


The university's School of Sport and Exercise is one of the largest providers of sport and exercise programmes in the UK. It is a Centre of Excellence for elite women's rugby sevens[107] and is the only university to own a professional rugby league team, the University of Gloucestershire All Golds.[108]

The University of Gloucestershire has a long sporting tradition and, in particular, seven focus sports, Rugby League, Rugby Union, hockey, football, tennis, netball and volleyball.[109]

The university has been at the forefront of developing rugby league at student level for nearly a decade. It has now moved into the professional ranks, with the Gloucestershire All Golds rugby league team entering Championship 1 in March 2013.[110] In 2016 the All Golds also entered a team into the RFL Conference League South.[111]

Sport Malawi

In 2012 the university's Sport Malawi initiative won gold at the London 2012 Games-inspired Podium Awards. The Malawi National Olympic team was hosted by the university, which worked in partnership with Gloucester City Council, Cheltenham Borough Council, Sandford Parks Lido, and Aspire Sports and Cultural Trust to create a Gloucestershire Consortium which provided facilities for the team during their preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.[112]

Malawian athletes returned to the campus to train ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.[113]

Initiation rites and student behaviour

In October 2008, the university was subject to an investigation by journalists on student initiation rites, after the BBC obtained a copy of a secretly-filmed video featuring students with bags over their heads drinking and vomiting,[114] overlooked by another student dressed in what the press described as a "Nazi officer uniform".[115]

A further incident in December 2008 resulted in a Rugby Union club member vomiting on board a bus, following what a local newspaper called a "booze-fuelled initiation ceremony".[116]


The university and GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), opened the Growth Hub[117] on 1 October 2014.[118]

In 2013, the university opened up its first Enterprise Hub. The Enterprise Hubs are aimed specifically at early-stage creative and innovative entrepreneur-run businesses offering physical and virtual support to help their development. There are four physical incubation sites across Gloucester and Cheltenham. The hubs offer both office space and business advice.

The Venture programme has been created by the university to offer lectures, workshops and mentoring in business for both students and alumni.[119]

The university's Gloucestershire Enterprise Society, run by the Student's Union, offers students free business advice, talks and training as well as social events, trips and activities.

People associated with the university

The university's Alumni Association has a global network of more than 39,000 former students and staff from the university and its constituent colleges. The Association produces a monthly newsletter, arranges events and can help to reunite old colleagues and friends.[120]

Notable alumni


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Further reading

  • 'University of Gloucestershire – Thanksgiving', 30 April 2002, Gloucester Cathedral
  • '150 years of Art Education', 2002, University of Gloucestershire, Introduction by Anita Taylor, School of Art, Media and Design
  • 'Celebrating 150 years of the Church Foundation', 1997, Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education
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