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Keele University

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Thanke God for All

£0.95 million (2015)

Trevor McMillan

Total enrollment
9,980 (2013)


Jonathon Porritt CBE

Newcastle ST5 5BG, UK

+44 1782 732000

Keele University

1949 (as University College of North Staffordshire) 1962 Royal Charter granted for university status

Notable alumni
Michael Mansfield, Jem Finer, Peter Mond - 4th Baron Me, Priti Patel, Janet Fitch


My time at keele university throwback thursday

Keele University, officially known as the University of Keele, is a public research university located about 3 miles (5 km) from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England. Keele was granted university status by Royal Charter in 1962 and was founded in 1949 as the University College of North Staffordshire.


Keele is the 24th oldest university in the UK List of UK universities by date of foundation, and highest research-ranked university in Staffordshire. A science park and a conference centre complements the academic buildings, making it the largest campus university in the UK. The university's School of Medicine operates the clinical part of its courses from a separate campus at the Royal Stoke University Hospital with the School of Nursing and Midwifery is based at the nearby Clinical Education Centre.

The university occupies a 620-acre (250 ha) rural campus close to the village of Keele and consists of extensive woods, lakes and Keele Hall set in historic Staffordshire Potteries heartland. The estate was originally given by King Henry II of England to the Knights Templars, AD 1180. When the Templars were condemned and dissolved by the Council of Vienne in the time of Pope Clement V AD 1311, their possessions were annexed by the Knights Hospitallers until their dissolution by Henry VIII. The estate was purchased from the Crown by the Sneyd family and remained in their property until acquisition by the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation in 1948.


As early as the 19th century, Charles Kelsall (1782-1857), an architect educated at Eton and Cambridge University, imagined in Phantasm of an University (1814), the foundation of a dream college layout in the county of Staffordshire where the "Silver Trent" would "meander at the end of the University grove". Cambridge and Oxford Extension Lectures had been arranged in the Potteries since the 1890s, but outside any organised educational framework or establishment. In 1904, funds were raised by local industrialists to support teaching by the creation of a North Staffordshire College, but the project, without the backing of Staffordshire County Council, was abandoned.

By the late 1930s, the Staffordshire towns of Longton, Fenton, Burslem, Hanley had grown into the largest conurbation without some form of university provision. A large area including Staffordshire, Shropshire and parts of Cheshire and Derbyshire did not have its own university. Stoke, in particular, demanded highly qualified graduates for the regional pottery and mining industries and also additional social workers, teachers and administrators with an academically informed grasp of local communities economic and social needs. Neither the traditional ancient institutions based on the Oxbridge model or earlier civic 'Redbricks' responded to that particular criteria.

Keele University was established in 1949 as the University College of North Staffordshire, at the initiative of A D Lindsay, then Professor of Philosophy and Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Lindsay was a strong advocate of working-class adult education, and had first suggested a "people's university" in an address to the North Staffordshire Workers' Educational Association in 1925.

Curricular philosophy

Lindsay, recently appointed to the House of Lords, participated in producing the influential Foreign Office report University Reform in Germany, which argued that no institution deserved the name of "university" unless it combined teaching and research. Consistent with his democratic ideals of education, Lindsay also warned of the dangers of training the specialist intellect in the natural sciences and the need to introduce elements of social sciences at university level by broadening the academic agenda. Lindsay believed technological excesses sponsored by the state without a review of the social and political consequences had been a major contributor to Germany's downfall. This was to heavily influence Keele's curriculum.

On 13 March 1946, Lindsay wrote to Sir Walter Moberly, chair of the University Grants Committee (UGC), suggesting the creation of a college "on new lines". The committee wanted a university for the 20th century that overcame the division between Arts and Sciences and what Moberly was calling the ''evil of departmentalism''. ''The tasks of the modern citizen and the study of modern society should be central to the curriculum'', the UGC argued with North Staffordshire an ideal site since it ''presented many typical problems thrown up by modern industrial conglomerations such as those posed by technical innovation in the pottery and mining industries.'' The college could become a ''social laboratory'' for industries and the local communities these catered for.

Normal practice was for new colleges (such as Southampton, Exeter and Nottingham) to be launched without degree-awarding powers; students would instead matriculate with and take external degrees from the University of London. Crucially, Lindsay wanted to "get rid of the London external degree", instead forming a college with the authority from the start to set its own syllabus, perhaps acting under the sponsorship of an established university. This would allow the college to start afresh in the setting of its curriculum free from the inheritance of educational practices. Lindsay also wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, tentatively requesting such sponsorship.

An exploratory committee was established by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, and having secured public funding from the UGC in January 1948, the Committee acquired Keele Hall, a stately home on the outskirts of Newcastle-under-Lyme, from its owner, Ralph Sneyd. The Hall, ancestral residence of the Sneyd family with its clock house, had been requisitioned by the War Office for military use during World War II, and was purchased together with the bulk of the Sneyd estate and a number of prefabricated structures erected by the Army, for the sum of £31,000.

In August 1949, the University College was granted the right to award its own degrees. The first graduate was George Eason, who had studied Mathematics at Birmingham University gaining a BSc in 1951. He received his MSc in 1952 from Keele. In 1954, the first graduate studying fully at Keele was Margaret Boulds who received a dual honours degree in Philosophy and English.

Receiving university status

Growing steadily to 1,200 students, the university college was granted university status in 1962, receiving a new Royal charter in January of that year, and adopting the name "University of Keele". Alternatives were considered, including "The University of Stoke" or "Stoke-on-Trent", but both were rejected; the estate is situated in the borough of Newcastle under-Lyme. Paradoxically, "Staffordshire University" was also discussed; this is now the name of the former North Staffordshire Polytechnic.

The university is a short distance west of the civil parish of Keele, and it was decided to name it after the village. It is the only establishment of higher education in the UK to be named after a village, and this has long attracted questions as to its location. Together with Reading, Nottingham, Southampton, Hull, Exeter and Leicester, all university colleges founded a short time before or after the first world war, Keele is identified as one of the civic or Red Brick universities, albeit a very late one.

In 1968, the Royal Commission on Medical Education (1965–68) issued the 'Todd Report' [1], which examined the possibility of a medical school being established at Keele. It was considered that North Staffordshire would be a good site, having a large local population and several hospitals. However, a minimum intake of 150 students each year would be necessary to make a medical school economically and educationally viable, and the university was at that time too small to support a medical school of this size.

Keele's International Relations Department was founded in 1974 by Professor Alan James and was one of the first institutions to offer a full degree in the subject. The Keele World Affairs Group, closely associated, followed suit in 1980 and is Europe's leading lecture series on Politics, Economics and Global Issues. Keele's first woman professor was appointed to the Chair of Social Work in 1976. In 1978, Keele Department of Postgraduate Medicine was created, albeit not catering for undergraduate medical students.

Government funding cuts

In late 1985, after a series of cuts in university funding, Keele briefly considered merging with North Staffordshire Polytechnic, but negotiations collapsed. In September 1983, the Secretary of State, via the UGC, had encouraged the idea, asserting that the most radical way of increasing the size of departments and diminishing their number is by the merger of institutions. At the time, Keele had a population of 2,700 students, compared to 6,000 at the less academically exclusive Polytechnic. Edwina Currie, then Conservative MP for South Derbyshire, remarked, "A university which is now below 3,000 students has got problems. It simply isn't big enough". Keele University Science & Business Park Ltd (KUSP Ltd) opened in 1986, partly to generate and diversify alternative sources of income.

In 1994, the Oswestry and North Staffordshire School of Physiotherapy (ONSSP), which had been a separate institution based at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, Shropshire, merged with Keele University, becoming Keele's Department of Physiotherapy Studies (now School of Health & Rehabilitation): it moved to the Keele University campus. In August 1995, Keele University merged with North Staffordshire College of Nursing and Midwifery, forming the new School of Nursing and Midwifery.

In 1998 and 1999 there was some controversy when the university decided to sell the Turner Collection, a valuable collection of printed mathematical books, including some which had belonged to and had been heavily annotated by Isaac Newton, in order to fund major improvements to the university library. Senior university officials authorised the sale of the collection to a private buyer, with no guarantee that it would remain intact or within the UK. Although the sale was legal, it was unpopular among the academic community, and the controversy was fuelled by prolonged negative press coverage suggesting that the £1m sale price was too low and that the collection was certain to be broken up.

New schools of medicine, pharmacy, nursing & midwifery

The appointment of Sir David Weatherall as Chancellor paved the way for a rapid expansion in Health disciplines. In 2001, Keele was awarded an undergraduate medical school in partnership with Manchester University. Initially, some students from Manchester Medical School began being taught at Keele. Finally Keele's own medical school opened in 2007 with the first of cohort of students having graduated in 2012. In 2009, the university was awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, for "pioneering work with the NHS in early intervention and primary care in the treatment of chronic pain and arthritis, linking research to delivery to patients through GP networks and user groups". In 2006 the School of Pharmacy was created with the launch of new MPharm degree programmes.

In early 2001, to cut costs, the faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences merged. Due to declining popularity and funding, the German department closed in December 2004 with the university retaining its physics degree despite the subject facing similar pressures. Although, degrees ceased to be offered in modern languages, a Language Learning Unit was created to provide Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish teaching for Keele students and staff alike. This can lead to an enhanced degree title given sufficient electives taken.

The foundation year was eliminated in 1998 but re-introduced in 2012 with new programmes of study, the international foundation year and the accelerated international foundation year which add to the existing offer, as well as the humanities, science, social science, health, general foundation years and foundation year for people who are visually impaired.

Expansion and environmental goals

Starting in 2012, Keele has placed environmental sustainability at the heart of its university strategy. In 2016, Keele was finalist in the Green Gowns Awards thanks to its "significant reduction in carbon emissions and to a dedicated programme of carbon reduction projects supported by an excellent energy management system". Moreover, in the People & Planet Green League 2015 assessments for environmental and ethical performance, Keele ranked 48 of 151 educational establishments. The creation of a SMART energy centre due for completion in 2021 aims to further improve this by allowing the campus to become energy self-sufficient via waste recycling and alternative energy sources.


Set in the North Staffordshire countryside, Keele's campus is rural with many 19th-century architectural features such as Keele Hall predating the concrete and red-brick buildings of the modern university. Keele is close to Newcastle-under-Lyme, the nearest town and Hanley (which is the main centre of the City of Stoke-on-Trent). Stoke-on-Trent Train Station is 4.5 miles away and serves the campus via a regular bus service which takes circa 15 mins. By rail, Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool are about an hour,London 90 minutes and three to four hours by road. Hitchikers and lift-sharers can walk to the college from Keele services on the M6. Apart from increasing numbers of academic and residential buildings, other facilities include an astronomical observatory, art gallery, arboretum, Islamic centre, shops, cafés and places to eat and drink. The campus also has science, business enterprise parks and conference centres. It is also home to the Earth Science Education Unit (ESEU).

The chapel is located in the centre of the campus, close to the university library and student union. From the onset, Christian worship was central to University life. Lindsay, first principal of the University College, was an ardent Christian preaching every Sunday in the Library Reading room of Keele Hall. A permanent structure was required and the chapel came to fruition in 1965. Built from staffordshire blue brick, the chapel accommodates different Christian traditions.

Halls of residence

There are five halls of residence on the main campus: Horwood, Lindsay, Barnes, Holly Cross and The Oaks. Hawthorns Hall is located off site in Keele village just outside the main entrance. These halls provide accommodation for approximately 70% of all full-time students. 3 of the oldest halls, Horwood (1957), Lindsay (1964) and Barnes (1970) are named after the founding fathers of the university, the Oaks (1992), west of Lindsay Hall is named after 4 oak trees that were felled to pave the way for the university residence and Holly Cross (1993) after the Knights Templars which the ground once belonged to and clearly shaped in a cross. The Hawthorns (1957), remnants of the Sneyd property, in Keele Village, was originally a large house, 2 paddocks and gardens totalling 13 acres of land.

Planned developments

Following student demand for accommodation on-campus, by Christmas 2017, Barnes hall of residence will be re-developed with new residential units added and cater for an additional 453 bedrooms whilst the Hawthorns site will be released for house construction and sale on the open market. More ambitious, a new phase of expansion of student accommodation is expected by 2020 with refurbishment of existing and new stock (townhouses and cluster flats) with planning application to be submitted in autumn 2016. In a nutshell:

  • Approximately 2,300 new high-quality, affordable rooms and the demolition of approximately 900 rooms that are beyond their usable life;
  • A new social hub in each hall;
  • A new dedicated postgraduate hub to replace the existing Keele Postgraduate Association (KPA) clubhouse;
  • A new music and teaching facility;
  • A new, larger medical centre with dedicated parking spaces to replace the existing GP facilities.
  • These changes will take place at Horwood, Lindsay and Barnes and increase the total accommodation on campus to circa 4,200 rooms distributed across all halls.

    Academic structure

    Keele's academic activities are organised into the following faculties:

    Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • School of Humanities (American Studies, English, History, Film Studies, Languages, Music, Music Technology, Culture and Creative Arts)
  • Keele Management School (Accounting, Finance, Economics, Management, Marketing, Human Resource Management)
  • School of Law
  • School of Social Science and Public Policy (Sociology, Criminology, Education, Social Work)
  • School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment (SPIRE)
  • Faculty of Natural Sciences

  • School of Computing & Mathematics
  • School of Life Sciences
  • School of Geography, Geology & the Environment
  • School of Chemical & Physical Sciences
  • School of Psychology
  • Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

  • School of Medicine
  • School of Pharmacy
  • School of Nursing & Midwifery
  • School of Health & Rehabilitation
  • Associated with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences:

    Research institutes

  • Primary Care & Health Sciences
  • Science & Technology in Medicine
  • All Keele’s courses, with the exception of Medicine and Pharmacy, are modular, with the academic year divided into two semesters, with breaks at Christmas and Easter. There are approximately 14 students to every member of staff.

    Principals and vice-chancellors

  • Lord Lindsay of Birker (1949–52)
  • Sir John Lennard-Jones (1953–54)
  • Sir George Barnes (1956–60)
  • Harold McCarter Taylor (1961–67)
  • W. A. Campbell Stewart (1967–79)
  • Sir David Harrison (1979–84)
  • Sir Brian Fender (1985–95)
  • Dame Janet Finch (1995–2010)
  • Nick Foskett (2010–2015)
  • Trevor McMillan (2015– )
  • Presidents and chancellors

  • John Herbert Dudley Ryder, 5th Earl of Harrowby (1949–55)
  • HRH Princess Margaret (1956–86)
  • Claus Moser, Baron Moser (1986–2002)
  • Sir David Weatherall (2002–2012)
  • Jonathon Porritt, CBE (2012–)
  • Academic profile and reputation

    The university's curriculum required every student to study two "principal" subjects to honours level, as well as further "subsidiary" subjects, with an additional requirement that students should study at least one subject from each of the subject groupings of Arts, Sciences and Social Sciences. The cross-disciplinary requirement was reinforced by the Foundation Year, an innovation which meant that for the first year of the four-year programmes, all students would study a common course of interdisciplinary "foundation studies".

    Standard three-year degrees were introduced in 1973 and the numbers of students following the Foundation Year course have steadily dwindled since. The Foundation Year has never quite been formally discontinued, however, and remains an option for prospective students who qualify for entry into higher education, but lack subject-specific qualifications for specific degree programmes. By contrast, the dual honours system at Keele remains distinctive and popular, with almost 90 per cent of current undergraduates reading dual honours. Able to combine any two available subjects, students have a choice of over 500 degree courses in all. The university also offers a study abroad semester to most of its students.

    As an experimental community, Keele was initially founded as a "wholly residential" institution. Of the initial intake of 159 students in October 1950, 149 were resident on campus, and it was required of the first professors appointed that they should also be in residence. With the expansion of the university, total residency has long since been abandoned, but the proportion of full-time students resident on campus remains above average at 62% in 2011 having fallen from 70% in 2006. A significant proportion of staff also currently live on campus.

    Keele has a graduation rate of over 90%, with 68.4% achieving 1sts or 2:1s. 90% of undergraduates are state-educated, and over 25% of students are from working-class backgrounds. In recent years Keele has attempted to boost this number by reaching out to local schools and hosting a summer school. In February 2011, a Sutton Trust report revealed that 3·4% of students had received free school meals, whilst 7·9% had attended independent schools. This compares the national figures for England of 14% eligible for free school meals, and 7% independently educated.


    Keele has an average UCAS points on entry of 352 (2014/2015). Typically three year degree courses ask for A'Level grades (or equivalent) of between AAB and BBC with the exception of Medicine. Keele has made it a priority to attract applicants with ABB grades and above at A'Level. The university also aspires to enter the top 30 across league tables by 2020. In May 2012 Keele was listed by the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine as among the world's top 100 new (50 years old or less) universities. In September 2016, Keele was awarded 'University of the Year for Student Experience' (The Times and The Sunday Times annual University of the Year awards, 2017).

    UCAS clearing

    Keele has traditionally participated in the UCAS clearing process and it has become customary for the university to lower its requirements. In September 2016, the university reduced its academic demands to 200 UCAS points or higher (equivalent to 2 A'Levels at grade B) in 60 of 69 dual and single honours degree subjects with vacancies remaining. Remaining disciplines in Clearing demanding higher than 200 UCAS points were Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, Chemistry (MChem), Computer Science (MComp), Natural Sciences, Pharmaceutical Science, Technology and Business, Rehabilitation Science, Social Work and Pharmacy.


    According to the National Student Survey (NSS) and excluding private or specialist institutions, the University ranked 1st for Student Satisfaction in 2014, 2015 and 2016 (jointly with St Andrews University) amongst broad-based educational establishments. The NSS is aimed at final year undergraduates, gathering opinions about their experience of their courses and the institution. It is conducted independently and a key quality indicator of higher education in the UK. In 2015, disciplines that scored highest included Education, Geology, Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Biochemistry, English and Mathematics.


    Keele submitted 60% of staff in the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and ranked 57 of 128 institutions by Grade Point Average (GPA) The University scored particularly well in Public health, Health services and Primary care. Medical research includes detecting Parkinson's disease early, and using Stem cell research to aid the healing process. The cochlear implant was developed in the Department of Communication and Neuroscience at Keele. Other notable medical pursuits includes attempts to explain the evolution of the human brain, looking into links between cannabis and mental illness (cited in the debate on 2009 reclassification debate), as well as tumour and cancer research.

    In August 2009, university astronomers, led by David Anderson, discovered the first planet that orbits in the opposite direction to the spin of its star. The planet was named WASP-17b. In 2010 Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston won the Ig Nobel prize for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain. In 2010 a medical centre in Newport, Shropshire was completed, for students to learn in real medical situations and research medical sciences.


    As per Statement of Accounts for 2014/15 released by the University, total income for the year ending 31rst July 2015 was just over £134M with a total expenditure of £127.2M. This amounted to a consolidated surplus of £7.4M and a slight increase of £1.2M on a yearly basis. For 2014/15, income was primarily derived from academic fees raking £66.7M (49.6% of total income) with home and EU students accounting for £49.6M followed by international students with £15.5M, short course fees £1.3M and research and training support grants approximately £0.3M. The University has continued to invest in capital projects with the refurbishments of the Walter Moberley and Huxley buildings, an upgrade to the Sports Centre facilities and a new HR/Payroll system.


    Keele University Library was founded in 1962. When the university was founded in 1948, the librarian's office was located above a public house in Stoke, near the Town Hall, not on campus. In 1952, the old Sneyd Library was used with 20,000 items which increased to 70,000 by 1954. By 1955, 155,000 volumes were accounted for, necessitating 12 full-time staff. Later, the Senate Room in Keele Hall was used to house the material. The University Grants Committee provided necessary funding, £290,000 towards the building, £48,000 towards official furniture and equipment. Work officially started in 1961 with opening by Sir Sydney Roberts, then vice-chancellor of Cambridge University and president of the Library Association.

    Additional expansion of the library was completed in 1966. By the early 1970s, the library was able to accommodate 750 readers and 600,000 books. Part of the collection derives from the library of professor Charles Saroles, acquired in 1954 of Edinburgh University, between 150,000 and 300,000 items. With the founding of the Keele University School of Medicine, a health library is available to both Keele students and National Health Service (NHS) staff at the Royal Stoke University Hospital. An IT suite complements the material with 60 workstations.

    Student union

    Keele University Students' Union organises social activities throughout the year. The principal Students' Union building was designed by Stillman & Eastwick-Field (now part of the TP Bennett practice), with some guidance from the University's architect, J. A. Pickavance. It opened in 1962 and was completed in 1963, extended in the 1970s and the ground-floor interior remodelled in 2011–2012. Its magazine, Concourse, was founded in 1964 and is issued about once a month. It is editorially independent of both the university and the students' union.

    Student activity

    The Keele team won the 1968 series of University Challenge. The same team also made runner up to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (1979) in the 2002 special University Challenge: Reunited.

    Student radio

    There is also a student radio station called KUBE Radio (Keele University Broadcasting Enterprises) with broadcast over the Internet.

    Student sports

    Keele sports range from rugby to lacrosse and dodgeball. Sports teams and issues raised are managed by the Athletic Union. The centre has two national standard sports halls, a single court gymnasium, a fitness centre, dance studio and climbing wall. Outside there is an all weather floodlit AstroTurf pitch, tennis courts and extensive playing fields. It is also the first university centre in the UK to offer a full "Kinesis" gym facility.

    Keele University Sports Centre hosts the matches of Newcastle (Staffs) Volleyball Club, providing around 110 tiered seats with the perfect view of some of the best matches in English Volleyball. In 2012, Keele University also took part in the first official inter-university Muggle Quidditch match, winning and thus becoming the top ranked team in the country. The sport has since expanded and Keele has remained one of the forerunners, finishing in second place at the British Quidditch Cup in November 2013. The university also hosted 8 teams for the Northern Cup in March 2014.


    Since 2007, Keele University's Athletic Union has played an annual multi-sports varsity series against local rivals Staffordshire University. The varsity match occurs at both universities sports facilities, alternating between the venues each year. Sports included in the contest include football, cricket, rugby, badminton, lacrosse, swimming, volleyball, netball, hockey, fencing, tennis, basketball and frisbee. Keele has won the varsity trophy for the past six years consecutively, winning in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Staffordshire University won in 2007 and 2009.

    Coat of arms

    The coat of arms was adapted from that belonging to the Sneyd family but the motto has not changed. However. additions have been made to the shield including the colours red and yellow to represent those of the County of Staffordshire as well as the chevron. The Stafford knot for Stafford, the Fleur-de-Lys for Burton upon Trent and the Fret which depicts the historical association with the textile industry of Stoke-on-Trent. Rodin's Le Penseur is also represented amidst a wreath of laurel vert.

    Academic dress

    The academic gowns reflects the colours of the County of Staffordshire and are either yellow or red and yellow. Higher Doctorates utilize purple and red whilst the college of fellows use red and gold.

    Keele University was featured in Marvellous, the biographical film about honorary graduate Neil Baldwin broadcast on BBC Two in September 2014.


    Keele University Wikipedia

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