Education and Training

Man with sword cuts a dash at university birthday party

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 18 September 2020 7:00

It is not often you have a piece of cake masterfully sliced with a foil by an Earl, but that is the way things are done at the Royal Agricultural University. 

This was no reckless freshers week act, but Earl Bathurst, no less, who brought a little swashbuckling style to the institutions 175th birthday celebrations. 

Welding the three-foot-long blade with aplomb in the presence of the vice-chancellor, Jo Price, chair of governors, John Pain, and Countess Bathurst, he masterfully portioned up an incredible replica of the university – in the shape of a cake.

Flamboyant it might have been, but it was also governed by the rule of six applying to social distancing – although all cake was later distributed to more than 400 freshers now part of the family of 1,100 students. 

Meanwhile, good wishes flooded in from alumni across the globe, in the form of video messages describing what the RAU means to them in just three words.  

Professor Price said:“When we launched our programme of 175th anniversary celebrations at the beginning of 2020, we could never have anticipated that it was going to be a year like no other. 

I am incredibly proud of the way our community of students and staff have adapted to lockdown, and to new ways of working, teaching, and learning. 

“As a University, we were also able to contribute to local initiatives such as the Feeding the 5,000 project, supporting vulnerable groups around Cirencester, and accommodating the homeless, while at the same time leading research into how rural communities, businesses, and farms have adapted to the Covid crisis. 

“We may be rooted in the Cotswold countryside but our outlook has always been, and remains, truly global. Yesterday, we proudly welcomed our first 300 students who are starting their studies at the new RAU Joint Institute for Advanced Agritechnology at Qingdao Agricultural University (QAU) in China, a major initiative that will help to expand transnational higher education in the land-based sector. 

“That outward-looking spirit of innovation, resilience and service can be traced right back to our foundation in 1845 when this institution pioneered advances in farming productivity, as more and more people left the countryside for the expanding, industrialised cities. 

The impact of those who have studied at the RAU since its foundation has been extraordinary, not just in the UK but globally.  

Equally, it will be our responsibility in the coming years to continue to lead and to innovate and ensure that our graduates can navigate the great challenges of Brexit, climate change, and food security. 

“We hope many of the 175 anniversary events we had planned can be re-scheduled in due course, but for now we are reaching out digitally as never before, with webinars, CPD, and lectures. 175 years on from when we welcomed our first students, we continue to adapt and embrace change.  

“Happy Birthday, RAU!” 

The RAUs 175th anniversary sponsors includeStaverton-based Creed, the foodservice company, Irwin Mitchell, legal services and financial planning, and Savills, experts in local and international property, each of whom has partnered the University during lockdown on a number of initiatives benefitting the community and the land-based sector. 

Pictured: (Left to right) – Chair of Governors, John Pain; Vice-Chancellor Jo Price; The Earl Bathurst and RAU Student Union President Lewis Bebb, gather to cut the cake marking the 175th birthday of the Royal Agricultural University.