Good University Guide 2023

Royal Agricultural University

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects
Royal Agricultural University

Contact details


Stroud Road, Cirencester, GL7 6JS,

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The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) is branching out from its secluded Cotswolds setting in a big way. It has entered into a long-term partnership with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Agriculture to launch the International Agriculture University (IAU) in Tashkent, while at home it plans to turn part of its land into an innovation village, containing commercial, academic and residential space, as well as a hotel. The University Gate project will be funded privately and is intended to house a “global community of influencers, practitioners, researchers and entrepreneurs”.

The RAU was already making the most of its international reputation as the first high-level agricultural college in the English-speaking world, leading a global group of agricultural universities researching sustainable business models to reduce food poverty, decrease the carbon footprint of agriculture, and protect the livelihoods of farmers. As well as launching the first undergraduate programmes at the IAU this autumn, the university has twinned with Sumy National Agrarian University, in Ukraine, to support its day-to-day operation after the Russian invasion. 

Big increases in student satisfaction have helped the RAU jump 14 places in our league table, although it remains outside the top 100. It has recovered from pandemic woes to be among the top ten universities for student satisfaction with the wider undergraduate experience, and ranks 54= for satisfaction with teaching quality, according to our analysis of the latest National Student Survey outcomes. 

Applications have been booming, rising 30 per cent in 2021. The addition of foundation years on all BSc courses has been one reason for the growth in demand for places, as well as assisting the efforts to widen the intake.

Based in 25 scenic acres outside Cirencester, the RAU has been visited by every monarch since Queen Victoria. Established in 1845, it has acquired the nickname of “Oxbridge of the countryside” owing to its high proportions of privately educated students. It remains close to the bottom of our social inclusion index for England and Wales, with only 55.9 per cent from non-selective state schools and just 1.4 per cent from ethnic minorities.

In an effort to widen the intake, applicants from particular low-performing schools and colleges, students from areas with low participation in higher education, care leavers and those from ethnic groups underrepresented at the RAU were guaranteed a conditional offer this year. The university intends to make this a contextual offer for 2023 entry, reducing the standard offer by one A-level grade or its equivalent for students in the target groups. In addition, a new Ethnic Minority Excellence Scholarship gives full remission for tuition fees.

The RAU was awarded silver in the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework, winning praise for its specialist facilities. Assessors were impressed by the employer-informed course design, work placements and extracurricular opportunities for students to develop skills and attributes valued by employers. Hands-on learning takes place at Coates Manor Farm next to the campus, at Kemble Farms dairy complex and at Leaze Farm. A recent partnership with the neighbouring Bathurst Estate also gives students access to 15,000 acres of farmland, forestry, environmentally managed land, real estate and heritage properties, along with a range of rural enterprises for teaching, research and knowledge exchange.

Students may spend a sandwich year in industry as part of their degree, and entrepreneurial activity is encouraged by schemes such as the RAU’s programme for student start-ups, which offers access to local business mentors. The RAU is one of only six universities — and the only specialist provider — to be made a Centre of Excellence by the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs.  

Results improved in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, although the university did not quite break into the top 100 in our research ranking. Half of the work submitted was considered world-leading or internationally excellent. The RAU has six research clusters concentrating on applied work in the natural world and with links as far afield as China, Brazil and sub-Saharan Africa.

On campus, a new student hub opened in 2019 housing all student facilities, including the students’ union. There are facilities for a number of sports, from lacrosse, hockey and rugby to tennis, croquet and netball. Polo is played at a club about 12 miles from campus, rowing at Gloucester Rowing Club and shooting at Hollow Fosse. 

Three-quarters of the 339 rooms in eight halls of residence on campus are catered. They are enough to accommodate about 80 per cent of first-year students, and the university works with local providers to satisfy those who live off campus. The university’s small numbers and countryside location encourage a collegiate atmosphere, with the campus the centre of social activity. There are ample opportunities to explore the Cotswolds and London is only 90 minutes away by train.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 102 (116)
Teaching quality 75.8 54th=
Student experience 78.7 8th
Research quality 24.2 102nd
Ucas entry points 114 103rd=
Graduate prospects 67.6 102nd=
Firsts and 2:1s 66.9 124th
Completion rate 90.4 38th=
Student-staff ratio 21.5 118th=

Vital statistics











Applications/places 1,450/415
Applications/places ratio 3.5:1


Places in accommodation 339
Accommodation costs £197 - £205
Catered costs £208 - £266
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,250
Fees (placement year) £1,850
Fees (overseas year) N/A
Fees (international) £13,500
Finance website
Graduate salaries £24,000


Sport points/rank 32, 121st
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 110
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 55.9%
Grammar school admissions 7.5%
Independent school admissions 36.6%
Ethnic minority students (all) 1.4%
Black achievement gap n/a
White working class males 3.6%
First generation students 36.7%
Low participation areas 2.8%
Working class dropout gap n/a
Mature 30.1%
EU students 2.7%
Other overseas students 6.7%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Land and property management 80.7%
Animal science 77.3%
Agriculture and forestry 73.7%
Business, management and marketing 72.5%