Education and Training

Former student loans college some of his land - 15,000-acres of it!

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 13 August 2020 6:30

If ever a deal showed how valuable it can be to get on with your neighbours it is the one done by Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.

It has just been granted access to some 15,000 acres of prime Gloucestershire agricultural land as part of a new partnership aimed at benefitted its students.

The farmland includes forestry, environmentally managed land, real estate, heritage properties and a range of rural enterprises for teaching, research and knowledge exchange.

Access to which has been agreed by the owner of the land, Lord Bathurst, who also happens to be an alumnus of the Cirencester institution.


“I welcome this new partnership which will allow students to get experience and access to everyday practical land management issues.

“The Estate in return will gain from the students’ freer blue sky thinking and a ‘can do’ approach and attitude to tackling some of the traditional problems found in the landed sector,” said Lord Bathurst, whose agricultural credentials also include involvement in the National Farmers Union, the role of President of the Gloucestershire Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), not to mention past governor of the Royal Agricultural University, past president of the Three Counties Agricultural Society and director of the Gloucestershire Farming Trust.

According to the RAU, which can accommodate 1,100 students and has places for this coming yearstill available, the diverse range of rural enterprises that operate within the Bathurst Estate will provide invaluable real-world experience to students on all of the University’s courses.

These include agriculture, business, the environment, real estate, rural land management, equine and the new cultural heritage programmes launching this year.

The Bathurst family has supported the University (then the Royal Agricultural College) since its foundation 175 years ago.

For its part the Estate said it would “benefit greatly from an ever-closer working relationship with the University. Engagement with academics who are thought leaders, alongside staff and student research projects will inevitably add value to its future strategic plans”.

Vice-chancellor, professor Joanna Price, said: “The traditional approach taken by land-based institutions like ours has been to rely heavily on facilities provided by their own farms.

“However, this can limit the students’ learning experience at a time of unprecedented change in the way we produce food, manage land, our natural resources and sustain rural economies into the future. To this end, we must ensure that our students’ horizons are as broad as possible.

“This collaboration provides a wealth of additional opportunities on our doorstep for students to gain applied practical experience of innovative and sustainable approaches to managing the land, producing food in an economically sustainable way, while protecting the environment, supporting the rural economy and enhancing the local community.”

Lewis Bebb, RAU Student Union President, called the new partnership "a truly exciting move which will bring about a breadth of opportunities for students on all of the University’s courses”.  

Pictured: RAU Vice-Chancellor Professor Joanna Price, Lord Bathurst and Lewis Bebb, RAU Student Union President