A NEW teaching centre is to be built at a campus in Gloucestershire after winning £5.8million of funding to upgrade facilities.

The Royal Agricultural University will use money from The Office for Students to upgrade its facilities in Cirencester to train students in climate-smart, resilient agriculture and land management. 

The funding will allow the RAU to develop the new centre in the ground floor of the Cirencester university’s existing Frank Garner lecture block as well as build a new extension by 2025. 

“This really is fantastic news for the university,” said RAU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter McCaffery. 

“These new labs will help to ensure that the Royal Agricultural University plays a crucial role in tackling global challenges like climate change, biodiversity and food security. 

Gazette Series: The university's plans for the new teaching centreThe university's plans for the new teaching centre (Image: RAU)

“It will help us to ensure students and learners from all backgrounds and abilities, especially those from disadvantaged communities, can be at the forefront of resolving climate change and the goal of a sustainable world.”

“This award - the maximum amount available to any institution under the OfS scheme - is a tremendous fillip for us that will markedly enhance the delivery of our curriculum, the quality of our students' learning experience, and the development of our research, as well as our ability to recruit students and staff. 

“It also demonstrates the OfS’s confidence in the RAU’s direction of travel. 

The new centre, which will replace the University’s existing ageing laboratories, will house the latest equipment and technologies across a combined wet lab and IT-enabled learning environment covering a broad range of disciplines and skills. 

The University plans to be able to complete the initial phase – the refurbishment of the ground floor of the existing Frank Garner lecture block – between August 2023 and March 2024. 

Phase two of the development – a new build extension to provide separate dirty, wet teaching labs - will require planning permission but the University hopes to be able to complete that in the summer of 2024.

Once construction of the new Teaching Centre is complete, the University’s old wooden lab block will be demolished to create a vibrant “village green” at the centre of the main campus. 

Peter added: “The new facilities will fully embrace agricultural disciplines as science but also as trades and professions to be proud of – demonstrating world leading techniques and practices. 

“More needs to be done to equip a new generation of young farmers to address the challenges we face and this new centre will offer practical, hands-on experience for all students, bringing subjects to life beyond theoretical concepts via real world applications.”