Loughborough University is a public research university in the market town of Loughborough, Leicestershire, England. It has been a university since 1966, but it dates back to 1909, when Loughborough Technical Institute began with a focus on skills directly applicable in the wider world. In March 2013, the university announced it had bought the former broadcast centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a second campus. It belonged to the 1994 Group of smaller research universities until the group dissolved in November 2013. Its annual income for 2020–2021 was £308.9 million, of which £35.5 million was from research grants and contracts.
Loughborough is in the top 7 in every UK university league table and top in its region. It was named University of the Year in 2019 by The Times. In 2020 it was awarded University of the Year by the WhatUni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs). This was decided by over 41,000 student reviews from more than 150 higher education institutions.
The university traces its roots back to 1909 when a Technical Institute was founded in the town centre. There followed a period of rapid expansion, during which it was renamed Loughborough College and development of the present campus began.
In early years, efforts were made to mimic the environment of an Oxbridge college (e.g. students wore gowns to lectures) whilst maintaining a strong practical counterbalance to academic learning. During World War I, it served as an “instructional factory”, training workers for the munitions industry.
The Loughborough Colleges
Following the war, the institute divided into four separate colleges:
- Loughborough Training College (teacher training)
- Loughborough College of Art (art and design)
- Loughborough College of Further Education (technical and vocational)
- Loughborough College of Technology (technology and science)
The last would become the nucleus of the present university. Its rapid expansion from a small provincial college to the first British technical university was due largely to its principals, Herbert Schofield, who led it from 1915 to 1950 and Herbert Haslegrave, who oversaw its further expansion from 1953 to 1967 and steered its progress first to a College of Advanced Technology and then a university in 1966. In 1977, the university broadened its range of studies by amalgamating with Loughborough College of Education (formerly the Training College). More recently, in August 1998, the university merged with Loughborough College of Art and Design (LCAD). Loughborough College remains a college of further education.
Influence of Herbert Schofield
Herbert Schofield became principal in 1915 and continued to lead the College of Technology until 1950. Over his years, the college changed almost beyond recognition. He bought the estate of Burleigh Hall on the western outskirts of the town, which became the nucleus of the present 438-acre (1.77 km2) campus. He oversaw the building of the original Hazlerigg and Rutland halls of residence, which are now home to the university’s administration and the vice-chancellor’s offices.
From college to university
An experienced educationist, Herbert Haslegrave took over as college principal in 1953. By increasing breadths and raising standards, he gained it the status of Colleges of Advanced Technology in 1958. He persuaded the Department of Education to buy further land and began a building programme.
In 1963, the Robbins Report on higher education recommended that all colleges of advanced technology be given university status. Loughborough College of Technology was granted a Royal Charter on 19 April 1966 and became Loughborough University of Technology (LUT), with Haslegrave as its first vice-chancellor. It gradually remodelled itself in the image of the plate glass universities of the period, which had also been created under Robbins.
In 1977, Loughborough Training College (now Loughborough College of Education) was absorbed into the university. The Arts College was also amalgamated with the university in 1998. These additions have diluted the technological flavour of the institution, causing it to resemble more a traditional university with its mix of humanities, arts and sciences. In 1996, the university dropped the “of Technology” from its title, becoming plain Loughborough University.
The shortened name “Lboro”, “Lufbra” or “Luff” is commonly used by the students’ union, the alumni association and others.