Writtle College


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The Independent Online

History: Founded in 1893 by Essex County Council to provide technical instruction for agriculture and other rural industry in the county.

Address: Chelmsford, Essex.

Ambience: The college campus is set in its own 220-hectare estate, located just two miles from Chelmsford. A lively community atmosphere and excellent facilities, including a conservation area, landscaped gardens, design studios, animal, equine and stud units, a working farm, science centre, and sport and fitness centre.

Who's the boss? Professor David Butcher, who has over 30 years experience in land-based education. He joined the college in October 2006, and was formerly Dean of the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences at Nottingham Trent University.

Prospectus: 01245 424 200; or have a look at the prospectus here.

UCAS code: W85


Easy to get into? Most honours degrees ask for 200 UCAS points, and a typical offer for a foundation degree is between 100 and 120 points.

Foundation degrees: Agriculture; animal management; animal science; conservation management; garden design; interior design; digital art and design; professional floristry; horticulture.

Vital statistics: A partner institution of the University of Essex, offering foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. The college has four schools of study: Writtle School of Design, School of Equine and Animal Sciences, School of Horticulture, and School of Sustainable Environments. The majority of courses offer students the opportunity to undertake an industrial placement.

Added value: Facilities include a recreation centre for student union events, a sports hall and fitness centre, squash, tennis and netball courts, playing fields and an interdenominational chapel. Impressive new equine facilities include an Olympic-size indoor school and therapy barn which houses a solarium and hydrotherapy spa. The college farms commercially across arable and livestock enterprises.

Teaching: A 2009 Ofsted inspection deemed the college to be 'satisfactory' overall and in all subject areas. In 2010, a QAA audit found there to be reasonable confidence in the college's provision of higher education.

Any accommodation? Yes the college has 382 rooms on campus in 14 halls of residence. A standard single room was £3,964 per year (including ten meals per week) for higher education students last year.

Cheap to live there? Varies widely. Private rents for a room in a shared house in Chelmsford are anywhere between £65 and £100 per week.

Transport links: There is a regular bus service from Writtle village to Chelmsford town centre. Trains run regularly from Chelmsford to London Liverpool Street, which take 40 minutes. London Stansted Airport is a 35 minute drive from Writtle, and Gatwick and Heathrow airports are easily accessible from the M25.

Fees: £8,500 for full-time home undergrads starting in 2013. Postgrad course from £4,325. Fees can vary depending on the course so have a look here, to see what is what.

Bursaries: Up to £538 per year via a means-tested bursary for new full-time students in receipt of a maintenance grant and a household income of up to £40,000 per year in 2011. In 2012, the college will offer free accommodation and 10 means a week to fifteen students, under the National Scholarship Programme.

More information can be found here.


Nightlife: The students' union runs three balls a year, regular live music, comedy and discos. There are several nightclubs in Chelmsford that hold special student nights during the week offering discounts to NUS members. Writtle village also has traditional-style pubs and restaurants.

Sport reputation: Students are offered equine sports and clay pigeon shooting along with the more usual rugby, football and netball. A college gym and is free for all students to join.

Glittering alumni: The late Lord Carter, agricultural businessman and former chief whip in the House of Lords; the late Geoff Hamilton, the gardening televangelist; Matt James, TV gardener. Alan Titchmarsh is college patron.