The Royal Agricultural College has been granted full university status and will now be known as the Royal Agricultural University.

The move to university status is likely to be welcomed across the industry, although former students have expressed alarm at the name change.

An online petition, which gained more than 1,000 signatures in summer 2012, had been pushing for the institution to be called Royal Agricultural College University instead.

Principal Professor Chris Gaskell CBE said the new title would enable the university to emphasise the strength of its reputation, history and expertise on a national and international platform.

“As the Royal Agricultural University, we will enhance our position as a world-class higher education institution. Established in 1845, we have a strong reputation for the quality of our teaching, our research and our connections with the industries we serve.”

“University status best describes what the institution does and aspires to do; university title will benefit our students, their employers and the industries to which they contribute – and agriculture, food and land management are some of the most important industries in the world today.”

The university has more than 1,150 students, from more than 40 countries, studying its 30 undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes.

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