The Royal Agricultural College (RAC), now the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), was the first agricultural college in the English speaking world. In 1842, the seeds were sown at a meeting of the Fairford and Cirencester Farmers Club.
The first 25 students were admitted in September 1845 and the following year student numbers increased to 108. Many of those early students went on to careers in Colonial Agricultural Administrations and the Diplomatic and Foreign Service.
The RAC had been independent of government control since its foundation until 2001 when it first received funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), allowing it to widen access to its courses to students of all backgrounds.
The college gained full university status in 2013. It has more than 1,200 students and has seen a 49% rise in applications since 2008. The Royal Agricultural University was named the safest university in the South West in 2013, and is ranked top in the UK for facilities spend.
In 2013, the Privy Council awarded the College full University Status, in recognition of its provision as a higher education institution.