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The University of Exeter (usually abbreviated as Exon. for post-nominals) is a university in the South West of Englandmarker. Most of its activities are located in the city of Exetermarker, Devonmarker, where it is the principal higher education institution. It is a member of the 1994 Group, a network of research-intensive universities in the United Kingdommarker.

Exeter has three campuses: Streathammarker; St Luke'smarker (both of which are in Exetermarker); and Tremoughmarker in Cornwallmarker. The Tremough campus is maintained in conjunction with University College Falmouthmarker under the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) initiative.

Coat of arms

The University coat of arms symbolises the historical associations of the University with the locality. The triangular gold castle with three towers comes from Exeter's coat of arms and is thought to represent the Rougemont Castlemarker as alluded to by the red background. The 15 gold Besants around the edge of the shield are from Cornwall's coat of arms whilst the green cross on the white background is from the Plymouthmarker City Council's coat of arms. The theme of learning is symbolised by the book with gold edges and a Latin motto, "lucem sequimur", which translates as "we follow the light".


Timeline of the University of Exeter
1829 John Taylor publishes his Prospectus for a School of Mines in Cornwall
1840 Foundation of Exeter Diocesan Training College
1855 Foundation of Exeter School of Art
1863 Foundation of Exeter School of Science
1868 Schools of Art and Science relocate to Albert Memorial Museummarker
1876 Foundation of Camborne Miners' Association laboratory
1888 Camborne laboratory established as Camborne Mining School
1893 Schools of Art and Science renamed to the Exeter Technical and University Extension College
1900 Exeter Technical and University Extension College renamed to Royal Albert Memorial College, Gandy Street
1922 Royal Albert Memorial College renamed as The University College of the South-West of England;

Streatham Hall (now Reed Hall) gifted to the University College
1930 Exeter Diocesan Training College renamed to St Luke's College, Exeter
1955 The University College received its Charter and became the University of Exeter
1962 Post-graduate Medical School founded
1966 St Luke's College became co-educational
1978 Merger of the University's School of Education and St Luke's College of Education into the University's new Department of Education
1991 Affiliation of the College of St Mark and St John, Plymouth
1993 Incorporation of Camborne School of Minesmarker
1995 Affiliation of St Loyes School of Health Studies
1997 Establishment of Centre of Leadership Studies
2000 The Peninsula Medical School was established in conjunction with the University of Plymouthmarker and the National Health Service. This is based at St Luke's and local hospitals.
2004 The University's new Cornwall Campusmarker opens, moving all of its interests in Cornwallmarker to a single campus. Closure of Chemistry and Music departments announced. Closure of Italian department considered but plans were eventually dropped. Closure of the Cognitive Science BSc. (Hons) degree programme and the re-structuring of the Biology department, now called the Biosciences department.
2006 Closure of the Crossmead Conference Centre, formerly Crossmead Hall of Residence.
2007 Exeter admits its first intake of dental students. The College of St Mark and St John stop awarding University of Exeter degrees as it becomes a university college.

After earlier beginnings, university education in Exeter began in 1922 with the conversion of the previous Royal Albert Memorial Collegemarker into the University College of the South West of England, and the College's inclusion on the list of institutions eligible to receive funds from the then University Grants Committee. At that time the College was conceived as a territorial institution, making university education available relatively locally for students from the four counties of Devon, Cornwall, Dorsetmarker and Somersetmarker. As was customary for new university institutions in southern England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the College prepared students for external degrees of the University of London. With further growth in the 1920s and 1930s, it was granted increasing autonomy, but full independence was delayed by the Second World War. The university college received its Royal Charter and became the free-standing University of Exeter in December 1955. In the post-war period, Exeter like other UK universities became much more of a national institution, with students coming from all over the southern United Kingdom; as a research-intensive institution, it now attracts significant numbers of students from overseas. However, regional activity continued – for example, through extramural teaching throughout Devon and Cornwall, and the establishment of an Institute of Cornish Studies in Truromarker.


1955–1972 Mary Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire
1972–1981 Viscount Amory of Tiverton KG, PC, GCMG, TD, DL
1982–1998 Sir Rex Richards MA, DPhil, DSc, FRS, FRSC, Hon DSc
1998–2005 Lord Alexander of Weedon, QC, FRSA, Hon. LLD
2006– Floella Benjamin, OBE, DLitt (Hon)

Vice Chancellors

1954–1966 Sir James Cook
1966–1972 Sir John Llewellyn
1973–1984 Professor Harry Kay
1984–1994 Sir David Harrison
1994–2002 Sir Geoffrey Holland
2002– Professor Steve Smith

Centre for Leadership Studies

In 1997 the Centre for Leadership Studies was established as a leading centre for research and advanced study into leadership theory. It is the only specialist centre in the whole of Europe dedicated to scholarship in leadership studies.

The centre offers MA, MRes and Certificate programs in Leadership which can be learned through coached elearning.

Xfi Centre for Finance and investment

A specialist centre for the study of Finance and Investment. It offers an MSc in Financial Analysis and Fund Management, which is designed around the CFA curriculum.


In recent years, Exeter has risen sharply in all the main league tables, as the following table shows.

UK University Rankings]]
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993
Times Good University Guide 9th 13th 17th 28th 34th 31st= 34th 35th 36th 38th 38th 40th 37th 36th 35th= 36th= 39th= 36th
Guardian University Guide 13th =14th 34th 27th 28th 46th 29th 31st
Sunday Times University Guide 14th 17th 18thth 25th 24th 20th= 28th 24th 27th 34th 32nd=
Daily Telegraph 17th 30th
The Independent 19th 17th
The Financial Times 40th 40th 40th 41st

2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
THES - QS World University Rankings 266=th 237th 220th 224th 202nd
Academic Ranking of World Universities 303-401 305-402 301-400 401-500

Exeter's strongest performance is in the Times Good University Guide rankings. Since 2007-8 The Times rankings have been compiled by an arms length offshoot of Exeter University, Exeter Enterprises.

Exeter was the winner of the "Times Higher University of the Year" award in 2007/8, after finishing runner up three times running. In 2006, it was noted that, "Exeter's excellent record merits special recognition as runner-up this year. Students here are some of the most satisfied in the country, ranking it on the fringes of the top 10. High entry standards and low dropout rates further entrench its standing." Sunday Times, 10 September 2006.

National Student Survey

The 2007 National Student Survey found that some 91% of Exeter students are satisfied with their experience compared to a national average of 81%. This means that Exeter is 7th in the national universities and colleges satisfaction ranking and 4th in the list of traditional universities. This is the third year in a row that Exeter has come within the top ten.

In the 2005 National Student Survey, Exeter was ranked joint 10th nationally for overall satisfaction. The results put Exeter in the top 25 per cent of UK universities for learning resources (such as IT resources) and for course management and organisation.


In 2007/08 academic year the University has seen a rise of 23.8% in applications for places – one of the highest rises among universities in the country.

In the 2001 UK Research Assessment Exercise, 98% of subject areas at Exeter were rated 4, 5 or 5* (of national or international standing). In 2008, 17% of the submitted research was rated 4* ("world-leading") and 89% no lower than 2* ("recognised internationally").

In the 2006 National Student Survey, Exeter was ranked joint 11th, and the University of Exeter Business School was ranked 1st in the country for Business, Accounting & Finance and Management.

Campus life

Devonshire House, Streatham campus

Streatham campus

Reed Hall, Streatham campus
Most students work on the main campus, Streatham, which includes the Northcott Theatremarker. Sitting on a hillside one side of which looks down across Exeter city centre, the campus is renowned for its beautiful landscaping and excellent views. The Independent has described the campus environment as ‘sublime’. The campus also has several galleries, including the Bill Douglas Centre for the history of cinema and popular culture. There is also a Sculpture Walk, including pieces by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and a statue to commemorate the events at Tiananmen Squaremarker. There is a pub type bar called the Ram and a Bar (previously called the Ewe) within a nightclub called the Lemon Grove (or Lemmy), both run by the Students' Guild. The campus boasts a medical centre, a counselling service, a children’s day-care centre, and numerous catering outlets. Many halls of residence and some self-catering accommodation are located on this campus or in the near vicinity. In 2005 Streatham Campus's newest building, the Xfi centre, was completed to provide facilities mainly but not exclusively for postgraduate study into finance and investment.

St Luke's campus

The St Luke’s campus is home to the largest academic school of the University, the Graduate School of Education (previously known as School of Education & Lifelong Learning). It shares the campus with the Peninsula Medical School (a joint venture with the University of Plymouthmarker) and the School of Sport and Health Sciences. The campus is just over a mile from the larger Streatham campus and 10 minutes’ walk from the city centre.

The St Luke’s campus also has its own restaurant, cafeteria, bar, bookshop, bank, indoor swimming pool, two gymnasia including an advanced conditioning studio and grass tennis courts for summer use.

The future of St Luke's is currently under review, with a proposal to bring one of the Schools located there to the Streatham Campus to allow further expansion (see below).

Tremough campus (University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus)

The Main Library, Streatham campus

The University of Exeter's Cornwall campusmarker, Tremough now houses all the university's activity in Cornwall, previously scattered across the county. It is part of the Combined Universities in Cornwall project, and is shared with University College Falmouthmarker. University of Exeter departments on the site include the internationally renowned CSM (Camborne School of Minesmarker), whose graduates who are sought after by earth-based industries ranging from mining to electricity. CSM merged with the university in 1993 and is now part of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Earth Resources. Other departments at Tremough include Conservation Biology, English, Geography and the Institute of Cornish Studies, and additional departments are being added, such as History and Law, the first year of which started in October 2007

Students' Guild

Students at Exeter are represented by a Guild of Students, which has an active role in campaigning at local and national levels.

Exeter's Guild is home to award winning media: a student radio station Xpression FM, a newspaper Exeposé, a website X-Media Online and television station XTV. There is also a volunteering agency within the Students' Guild called Community Action, which runs its own projects with members of the local community that are run by volunteers and provides further volunteering opportunities through links with external partner organisations. There is a RAG (Raising and Giving) group which exists to raise money for five nominated charities, and collects in town centres around Britain every weekend. RAG events are run by students, under the co-ordination of a full-time member of staff. The main aim of these societies and activities groups is to provide opportunities for student development. The Guild of Students was renamed the Students' Guild in 2005.

There are over 100 affiliated student societies, ranging from the Theatre Company and Creative Writing to the LDYS, Conservative Future, and Socialist Students societies. There are a very large number of sports clubs, and the Athletic Union (AU) is now a separate body from the Students' Guild. This organisation is led by a student-elected President, currently Simon Tyson. The Debating Society which predates establishment of the university, started life in 1927 as The Exeter Debating Society, with the inaugural speaker being Anthony Eden.

Students are represented by a sabbatical team consisting of a President, Deputy President (based at the St. Luke's Campusmarker), Finance, Activities and Trading Officer (FATO, Formerly General Secretary), Education Officer, Welfare and Equal Opportunities Officer and the Athletic Union President. There are also other non sabbatical officers representing areas of the student population and student activities areas. These are elected by students in a series of elections throughout the academic year.
The Peter Chalk Centre, Streatham campus, with the Physics tower in the background

Evangelical Christian Union disputes

Since late 2006, the Exeter Students' Guild has been in dispute with the Evangelical Christian Union (ECU), over the ECU's requirement that members sign a declaration saying they agree to a statement of beliefs, and the requirement that speakers and committee members agree to a doctrinal basis. The ECU's umbrella organisation, the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, promote the idea of the doctrinal basis for committee members.

On 24 October 2006, the existing Christian Union was instructed by the Guild to change its name to the Evangelical Christian Union, following a referendum vote by some students at Exeter University. The name change was intended to clarify that the society's position was that of Evangelical Christianity, rather than of all forms of Christianity, and was proposed by a member of the Christian Union.

The dispute was covered nationally by news channels including the BBC, with the Students' Guild freezing the accounts of the Christian Union, and refusing them free access to Guild facilities as well as advertising rights.

On 26 February 2007, the Guild issued a statement saying that Ben Martin is now willing to follow the Internal Complaints Procedure. By the summer this was completed, with Mark Shaw QC ruling in the students' guild's favour. .

In 2008/9, after one more failed try by the ECU to change the Students' Guild Constitution in terms of being able to restrict membership to only Christians, the President Robert Moore decided to make a U-turn at the end of the academic year. He proposed scrapping this idea entirely and opening the doctrine of the society up to those of all faiths. This idea seemed greatly supported but the committee of 2009 preferred that this decision be reviewed by them.

Sabbatical Team Elect 2009-2010

President: Richard Stearn

Deputy President: Marte Billington

AU President: Tom Murray

Finance, Activities and Trading Officer (FATO): Gemma Richens

Welfare and Equal Opportunities Officer: Matt Richards

Education Officer - Llywelyn "Taffy" Morris

New developments

The University has undergone an investment programme worth more than £235 million [32947] in recent years. £38 million has been invested in new student accommodation, including the new Holland Hall, named after the former vice-chancellor of the same name. £8m has been invested in sports facilities, including a professional-standard tennis centre. A £1m upgrade has been carried out to the students’ union building and nightclub and £1.5 m has been spent improving access for people with disabilities. In October 2002, The Peninsula Medical School, a partnership between the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, admitted its first students of medicine. In 2005, the new Xfi Centre for Finance and Investment opened, the result of a multi-million pound gift from an anonymous donor. Thanks to a donation of £650,000 from the Ruler of Sharjahmarker, His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi, an extension has been added to the also recently constructed Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies Building. In 2006, the Department of Drama completed a major renovation. The Department of Drama's state-of-the-art £3 million Alexander Building was named after the former University Chancellor Lord Alexander. A new £28 million Peninsula Dental School, a partnership between the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, will open its doors in October 2007. The dental school will have places for 62 graduate entry students each year. The South West of England Regional Development Agency is investing £9.7 m in phase II of the University of Exeter Innovation Centre. The project is currently under construction and will create a building for use by new and growing businesses within the development and research sectors at the university's Streatham campus. Phase I of the Innovation Centre was finished in 2000 and houses high-tech businesses from the software, biomedical sectors to advanced manufacturing and internet firms.

The School of Biosciences is undergoing massive investment to further improve the facilities. The Business School, formerly SoBE - The school of Business and Economics, is set to receive investment in the form of a new building to add to its existing buildings of Streatham Court and XFi. Further to the new building, a new student services centre has been constructed in Streatham Court and its lecture theatre corridor and MBA suite renovated.

Forum Project

£48 million has recently been invested into the renovation of the library, great hall and the area between it. The large glass structure will resemble a large shopping mall style, with a top of the range conference lecture theatre, and many seminar rooms. It will have trees planted, as well as flowing water to give a modernist, yet natural atmosphere.

The new building will act as the University's main reception, and is intended to help push the University further into the top 10 in the UK. The centre will resemble the largely glass Kingston Bentalls Shopping Centre, with influences from the Eden Project and the recently built part of Westminister Palace.


For nearly 40 years Exeter was the only university in the south-west peninsula, and as such it sought to offer the maximum number of academic disciplines. By 1995 the University had nearly 50 separate departments and centres. Its Research Assessment Exercise performance in 1996 was poor, and this was widely attributed to the absence of large strong units. As a result, an internal working party recommendation a reorganisation into a smaller number of Schools (18, now reduced further to 11, though the two schools of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry have been added), with the abolition of the traditional Faculties of Arts, Science etc.

Despite this internal reorganization, the University again entered the 2001 RAE with substantially more disciplines than most comparable universities, and consequently with smaller units. Since 2000, the University has therefore undergone a further process of restructuring in order to focus on areas of strength. In 2004, it closed two departments (chemistry and music) that had been suffering low student demand for a long period, and had failed to achieve a 5-grade in any of the RAEs. Although similar moves elsewhere had attracted little attention, a media storm blew up around this issue at Exeter, perhaps because of the high profile that the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steve Smith, was taking in UK university politics at the time (for example, he had just been appointed as Chair of the 1994 Group). There was also protest within the institution. The closures eliminated 130 jobs, and the AUT questioned the University's financial figures.
Protests over department closures.
Photograph taken from Exeposé.
On Thursday, 25 November 2004, about 2,000 students marched in protest over the decision,, making the local television news. Some even attempted to sell the University on eBay in protest. Sir Harold Kroto, a nobel laureate, returned his honorary degree from this institution in protest against this move. The university faced further protest in 2008 when more than 2,000 people signed a petition against plans to get an outside firm to run its profitable and outstanding-rated campus Family Centre. [32948]

The future of St Luke's

In 2006, the University commissioned a feasibility study into the future of the St Luke's site, the location of the Schools of Education and Lifelong Learning, the School of Sports and Health Science, and the university's part of the Peninsula Medical School. The Vice-Chancellor stated that the "problem is one of success, that is if these three Schools achieve their planned expansion ... then we will simply run out of space at St Luke's.". The options considered were moving the three schools currently located there onto the Streatham campus, with the sale of the St Luke's site; moving one of the Schools to the Streatham campus, and expanding the other two at St Luke's; and attempting to expand all three at St Luke's. Although media and student attention focussed on the first of these possibilities, the consultants' advice was that the middle path of moving one School was the most financially sensible, and it is likely that this is what university management had always intended.

Notable current and former members of academic staff

Exeter has a large number of leading academics. Sir John Tooke, who was knighted in the 2007 Queen's New Years Honours list for services to medicine is the inaugural dean of the Peninsula Medical School. Professor Roy Sambles in the school of physics is a Fellow of the Royal Society. Professor Richard Overy, fellow of the British Academy and distinguished Historian specialising in the Third Reich.

Notable alumni

Exeter has a large number of well-known alumni. Both Princess Anne's children Peter Phillips and Zara Phillips attended the University in the late 90s. J. K. Rowling the author of the Harry Potter books read French and Classics in the mid 80's. Robert Bolt playwright and two-time Oscar and BAFTA winning screenwriter (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, A Man For All Seasons) also attended Exeter. Jonathon Band First Sea Lord of the United Kingdom, the most senior serving officer in the Royal Navy read Economics in the 70s. Fiona Shackleton, the high-profile divorce case lawyer, read law in the 1970s. Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead, read English and Fine Arts at the University of Exeter. Frank Gardner the BBC's security correspondent, shot in Riyadh by jihadist radicals but continuing his work, and especially respected for his Middle East expertise, graduated in Arabic in the 1980s. Prof. Abdulaziz N. Al-Mani, winner of the 'Arab Nobel Prize', the 2009 King Faisal Prize, in the category of Arabic Literature, and now emeritus professor of Arabic literature at King Saud University, obtained his doctorate in Arabi literature from Exeter in 1976.

See also


  1. Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University 2008
  2. Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University 2007
  3. Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University 2006
  4. Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University 2005
  5. Evangelical Christian Union website
  6. Email from the Vice-Chancellor to all students, 4 October 2006

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