The Royal Agricultural University (RAU), formerly the Royal Agricultural College, is a university in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England. Established in 1845, it was the first agricultural college in the English-speaking world. The university provides more than 30 land-based undergraduate and postgraduate programmes to students from over 45 countries through the School of Agriculture, the School of Business and Entrepreneurship, the School of Equine and the School of Real Estate and Land Management.
The Royal Agricultural University was founded as the Royal Agricultural College in 1842, at a meeting of the Fairford and Cirencester Farmers’ Club. Concerned by the lack of government support for education, Robert Jeffreys-Brown addressed the meeting on “The Advantages of a Specific Education for Agricultural Pursuits”. A prospectus was circulated, a general committee was appointed and Henry Bathurst, 4th Earl Bathurst was elected president. Funds were raised by public subscription: much of the support came from the wealthy landowners and farmers of the day, and there was no government support. Construction of the main building, in Victorian Tudor style, began in April 1845 and was designed by S. W. Daukes and John R. Hamilton, and built by Thomas Bridges of Cirencester. The first 25 students were admitted to the college in September 1845.
The college gained full university status in 2013 and changed its name accordingly. It had 1,125 students in the 2019/20 academic year and saw a 49% rise in applications between 2008 and 2013. The Royal Agricultural University was named the safest university in the South West in 2013, and is ranked top in the UK for spending on facilities.