|Established||1882 – Teacher Training College
1993 – gained University Status as University of Luton
2006 – University of Bedfordshire
|Endowment||£0.52 m (2015)|
|Chancellor||John Bercow MP|
|Location||Bedford, Luton Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, UK
The University of Bedfordshire is a public university with campuses in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, England. The university was created in August 2006 following approval by the Privy Council by merging the University of Luton and the Bedford campus of De Montfort University.
It has 14,400 students, including approximately 4,500 international students. It is spread across six campuses: there are four campuses in Bedfordshire in Bedford, and Luton; and two campuses in Buckinghamshire, in Aylesbury for students studying Nursing and Midwifery, and in Milton Keynes, where business studies, electronic engineering, and telecommunications are taught.
The university entered the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008 and achieved a GPA of 2.087 with 34.7% world-leading or internationally excellent. The top units of assessment were in Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Social Work Social Policy and Administration and English Language and Literature. In 2012 it achieved FairTrade status.
The University of Luton had its roots in the Luton Modern School, which was established in 1908 and the Luton Modern School and Technical Institute which opened in 1937. This became Luton College of Higher Education with the merger of Luton College of Technology and Putteridge Bury College of Education in 1976. It obtained university status in 1993. The Bedford campus of De Montfort University was originally part of the Bedford College of Higher Education, which stemmed from Bedford Teacher Training College, founded in 1882, and Bedford Physical Training College, founded in 1903. The university was created by the merger of the University of Luton and the Bedford campus of De Montfort University in August 2006 following approval by the Privy Council.
The university has four faculties: Creative Arts, Technologies and Science; Education and Sport; Health and Social Sciences; and a Business School and according to the Daily Telegraph it has "one of the most generous" scholarship programmes in the United Kingdom. The university has regional representatives in several parts of India who have extensive training to give free counselling, advice and, where possible, a face to face interview to students, based in Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad and Vadodara.
In 2000 the University of Luton was ranked 83 out of 93 British universities by The Times in their annual university ranking, rising to 72 out of 101 two years later. In 2004, the university's then high drop-out rate, and decision to allow students to progress on to their third year of their degree even if they fail to pass their first and second year exams led the Sunday Telegraph to ask "Is this the worst university in Britain?" Luton's vice-chancellor responded by drawing attention to its teaching quality, which had been rated 14th out of 121 similar institutions the previous year by The Times.
The Sunday Times also awarded the University of Luton the title of Best New university in 2004 (prior to the purchase of the Bedford campus and rebranding). The QAA conducted a thorough institutional audit of the university as a whole in 2005 (prior to the merger of the university), which resulted in the audit team’s questioning of the academic standards of its awards and its lack of confidence in the university's quality standards. However, after the audit was taken the QAA was provided with information that indicates that appropriate action was taken by the university in response to the findings of this report. As a result, the audit was signed off in July 2007.
The university has been criticised for its association with the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, an unacredited and controversial organisation whose founder, Patrick Holford's advocacy of vitamin C as better than conventional drugs to treat AIDS was described as 'very scary' by the British Dietetic Association.
According to the THES in 2008 the university threatened legal action against a web site after one of its course was labelled "shocking" because of its staff-to-student ratio. After the QAA audit conducted in 2009 the university was awarded a "Confidence" rating.
The University was criticised by the Quality Assurance Agency in 2013 for allowing a PhD student to submit their thesis for a third time in 2011, after two previous submissions in 2008 and 2009. The QAA claimed this was in breach of their own policy of allowing one initial submission for the degree, and to be re-examined on one occasion. A University examiner awarded the PhD despite two external examiners recommending a MPhil.
The university hosts the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research opened in 2012 which carried out the first British study of cyberstalking and other forms of harassment online. In 2012 it established a UNESCO chair in New Media Forms of the Book to analyse trends in the use of electronic media, mobile media and Internet technologies through research and practice.
There are also two dedicated campuses for the teaching of nursing and midwifery degrees at Butterfield Park on the outskirts of Luton and at the Buckinghamshire campus at Aylesbury College in Aylesbury. The university also has a site at Putteridge Bury which is home to its Knowledge Hub and postgraduate Business School. The campus is situated in approximately 30 acres of landscaped gardens. The current building was completed in 1911 and was designed by architects Sir Ernest George and Alfred Yeats in the style of Chequers, having had various redesigns and rebuilds over the years. The campus is home to the university's postgraduate Business School as well as the university's Conference Centre. A smaller fourth campus, the University Campus Milton Keynes, became part of the university in 2012.
The university’s £34m Campus Centre opened in October 2010. Designed for social activity as well as teaching the Campus Centre incorporates learning zones. It houses a 240-seat lecture theatre, an exhibition area for displaying student work, the Student Information Desk offering help and support for students and the Students’ Union's support services and executive offices. There are also several places to eat and drink.
A £20m Postgraduate and Continuing Professional Development Centre is scheduled to be completed in early 2013 and includes state-of-the-art IT and AV equipment, informal and quiet learning spaces, two “Harvard-style” lecture theatres, as well as a student lounge and cafe. The Luton Learning Resource Centre has over 200,000 books and specialist texts, 9,000 journals and 300 fully networked PCs that are available at the Park Square campus. There is also an extensive online library of resources.
Luton campus is home to the following schools of study: Business; Media, Art and Design; Science; Computing; Law; Psychology; and Social Sciences.
Built in 1911, Putteridge Bury is a country mansion set in 30 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland, just four miles from the Park Square campus on the Hertfordshire – Bedfordshire border. It is home to the Bedfordshire Business School postgraduate programmes and the university's Conference Centre.
The Bedford campus on Polhill Avenue is about 20 minutes walk from Bedford town centre. The university provides a free bus service running between the town centre and the campus. The campus has recently undergone a redevelopment which includes an Physical Education and Sport Science Centre used to train athletes in the 2012 Olympics,and a Bedford Campus Centre boasting a 280-seat theatre, dance studios, restaurant and social spaces for students. Liberty Park, the recently completed £20m on-campus student accommodation, offers 500 en-suite study bedrooms. The Polhill Library was designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects as a gateway to the campus. The building was completed in 2001 and provides approximately 360 individual study spaces, teaching space, staff work areas and traditional library services.
The Bedford campus has the following schools: Primary Education, Secondary and Post-Compulsory Education, Education Studies, Physical Education and Sport Studies, Sport and Exercise Sciences, and Tourism and Leisure.
Butterfield is home to a purpose-designed building for Health, Nursing and Midwifery students, and £1m has been invested to offer students appropriate teaching and learning resources. The 85-acre 'building and technology' zone provides facilities that including a skills lab and a £500,000 clinical simulation centre, complete with operating theatre suite, hospital ward and family room, that ensure students develop and refine their clinical abilities in realistic settings.
Butterfield Park was named Green Office of the Year 2008 in The Office Development Awards competition for the environmental development of the future.
It is home to the Luton Institute of Research in the Applied Natural Sciences (LIRANS), which focuses on postgraduate training, research, applied research and product development – in association with other academic groups and in collaboration with industry. LIRANS carries out research in three broad areas: cryobiology, environmental change and sensors.
Butterfield Park is located on the north-east side of Luton. It is also near to the university's Putteridge Bury Campus, which is four miles from the main Park Square campus.
Aylesbury College, the university's Buckinghamshire campus, for Nursing (Adult and Mental Health) and Midwifery students, in Aylesbury, is equipped with facilities including a multi-purpose skills lab with simulation facilities. Students can undertake clinical placements at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, Wycombe General Hospital in High Wycombe or in Amersham Hospital in Amersham, as well as in a range of community based healthcare settings. Students have access to Nursing accommodation in both the Wycombe and Stoke Mandeville hospitals.
The Milton Keynes campus became part of the university in September 2012. It teaches Foundation Degrees and master's degrees in a variety of business, electronics, and Information and Communications Technology subjects.
The university offers courses at the postgraduate level with 3,455 such students enrolled in 2015/16. There are also 1,200 members of staff from more than 100 countries, with more than 46 per cent of students aged over 25.
In the latest Government Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008, the university was recognised as 'world-leading' for its research in Earth Systems and Environmental Science; Social Work, Social Policy and Administration; English Language and Literature; and Communications, Cultural and Media Studies. The university has also been recognised as 'internationally excellent' in the areas of Computer Science and Informatics; and Business and Management Studies.
The university works together with a number of partner institutions to offer a range of courses:
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