Reading, University of


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Overall ranking: Came 29th out of 126 in the Complete University Guide for 2016.

History: The University of Reading dates back to the late 19th century. Its origins lie in the Schools of Art and Science established in 1860 and 1870. These became part of an extension college opened in 1892 by Christ Church, Oxford. The college thrived, receiving its first treasury grant in 1901. Three years later the local Palmer family of the famous biscuit manufacturer Huntley & Palmers donated the London Road site. Their continued support helped to fund expansion including the opening of Wantage Hall in 1908 and The Research Institute in Dairying in 1912. The university received a Royal Charter in 1926 and was the only institution to do so between the two world wars. At the same time, Dr William M Childs became the University's first Vice-Chancellor. In 1947 it purchased its main Whiteknights campus, the former country estate of the Marquess of Blandford. The merger with Bulmershe College of Higher Education in 1989 added its third 17-hectare site in Earley, close to Whiteknights. Now, Reading is in the top 1% of universities worldwide.

Address: Located at the heart of the Thames Valley in the south east of England with the fastest-growing economy in the country. Open green campus at Whiteknights with 160 hectares of parkland and meadowland, only 2.5 km from the town centre. The second campus, London Road, is home to the Institute of Education, and the Greenlands campus in Henley offers executive education and MBA programmes through the University’s Henley Business School.

Ambience: Cosy, sporty, self-contained. Many students live on campus. Good social life, and a leafy collection of trees and a lake.

Who's the boss? Sir David Bell became vice-chancellor after taking up the post in January 2012.

Prospectus: 0118 378 6586 or request one here.

UCAS code: R12

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Standard offers are AAA-BBB at A-level.  Those with non-traditional qualifications are encouraged to apply, as the university can tailor offers to suit applicants' expertise.

Vital statistics: Around 9,100 undergrads, and 7,600 postgrads. Famous for the Henley Business School, its agriculture, meteorology, construction and real estate courses, which have always attracted large numbers of international students.

Added value: Many programmes are flexible, allowing students to take a combination of compulsory and optional modules, and they are also encouraged to choose modules from other subjects to give them a broad knowledge base.  Excellent sports facilities with playing fields on campus and a £2m sports centre. The Library has recently received a £4.4m makeover and opens 24/7 in term time.  The students’ union is home to one of the best student clubs in the country, according to the NUS, and has one of the largest campus shops in the UK.

Teaching: Placed 38th out of 126 in the Complete University Guide 2016, for student satisfaction with teaching.

Graduate prospects: Placed 44th with 71.5 per cent finding graduate employment.

Any accommodation? Yes – almost 5,000 rooms in university halls of residence, guaranteed for first years. A self-catered room will cost you between £100 and £155 per week, and a catered room is £130-175, including bills. You can live in a modern townhouse, in a traditional hall around a courtyard, or in a shared flat in a modern residential block.

Cheap to live there? So, so. A room in private rented accommodation costs between £62 and £80 per week.

Transport links: Close to London and Oxford. Excellent rail, coach and motorway connections. Paddington is 25 minutes by train while Heathrow Airport can be reached in 40 minutes by coach. Buses run from the railway station and town centre directly onto the campus, every seven minutes.

Fees: Reading charges the maximum tuition fee of £9,000 for full-time home and EU undergrads.

Bursaries: The University is taking part in the National Scholarship Programme 2014-15 - eligible students from England with an assessed household income of below £25,000 will receive a cash bursary or partial tuition fee waiver of £2,165 in their first year of study. In subsequent years eligible students will receive a bursary under the Reading Bursary Scheme which pays a cash bursary of £1,000.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: Three club nights a week on campus in the eclectic £2m students' venue, plus specialist nights and some big name bands. Flirt! is a particularly popular student night here.

Price of a pint: Around £2.80 but can stretch over £3.

Sporting reputation: In 51st place in the BUCS league.

Notable societies: All the usual sports club, student media and academic groups, with quirkier options including Lego Society, Come Dine With Me, Roller Coaster Appreciation Society, and even a Lock Picking society...

Glittering alumni: Linda Bennett, founder of LK Bennett; Professor Sir Peter Crane, former director of Botanical Gardens at Kew; Elspeth Huxley, writer; James Cracknell, Olympic oarsman; Jamie Cullum, jazz musician.

Alternative prospectus: Read some What Uni? reviews and check out star ratings from current Reading students for an insight into what life as a student here is really like.