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Thames Valley University
Established 1990 (as the Polytechnic of West London)
Type Public
Endowment £459,000[1]
Chancellor Lord Bilimoria
Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter John 1 July 2007
Students 47,430[2]
Undergraduates 17,200[2]
Postgraduates 1,940[2]
Other students 28,290 FE[2]
Location Ealing, Brentford, Reading and Slough, UK

Thames Valley University (TVU) is a British university based on campuses in Slough and Reading in Berkshire, and Ealing and Brentford in west London. Aside from the Open University, it is the largest university by student population in the United Kingdom.



Thames Valley University traces its roots back to 1860, when the Lady Byron School was founded at what is now TVU's Ealing campus. The school later became Ealing College of Higher Education.

The Slough campus was founded in 1907 as an elementary school. By the 1940s, it had become a technical institute, and in the 1970s it became Thames Valley College of Higher Education.

In 1990, Ealing College of Higher Education, Thames Valley College of Higher Education, Queen Charlotte's College of Health Care Studies and the London College of Music were merged to become the Polytechnic of West London. Two years later, the polytechnic became a university under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, and adopted the name Thames Valley University.

In 2004, the university merged with Reading College and School of Arts and Design (which was originally founded in 1947 as Reading Technical College). Reading College's premises became TVU's Reading campus.

The merger has made TVU a very large university by UK standards. Since then, a major rebranding exercise has taken place. As a university, TVU aims to be unconventional. It appeals largely to a West London and Thames Valley student body, with many students commuting from home. It offers a variety of professional training courses unavailable elsewhere. Some 45% of students come from non-white ethnic groups, and 60% study part-time (Guardian 2006).

In May 2009, TVU announced that it be would closing its Slough campus in 2010 due to the relocation of nursing students, who make up the majority of the student body there, to the Reading campus. Other courses will be moved to one of the Universities west London campuses, although some part-time and nursing courses will remain in Slough at a different site.[3]


TVU currently comprises four Faculties: the Faculty of the Arts (FOTA), formerly the London College of Music and Media, and now incorporating the London College of Music, relaunched in March 2007 (Tech Music Schools has been partnered with TVU since 1993, offering a BMus in association with LCM); the Faculty of Professional Studies; the Faculty of Health and Human Sciences; and the Faculty of Technology. There is also a 14-19 Academy, based at Reading and structured as a department of the University,[4] offering predominantly GCSE and A level courses. Finally, the Graduate School[5] (based in Ealing) co-ordinates and provides support to research activities[6] and research degree courses.

Academic reputation

In the 2010 editions of the major league tables of British universities TVU is placed 69 out of 117 in The Guardian university guide [7], 98 out of 113 in the The Independent associated Complete University Guide[8], 106 out of 122 in The Sunday Times University Guide[9] and 110 out of 114 in The Times Good University Guide[10].

Official figures published in the Times Higher Education magazine in July 2008 reveal that TVU has the best graduate employment record against its benchmark in the country, with almost 95% employed within six months of graduating.

HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) compared data taken from its survey that looks at the destinations of graduates six months after leaving higher education against employment performance indicators for all universities across the UK. 94.8% of graduates from TVU were employed or in full-time education within six months of leaving their course, which exceeds the university’s benchmark figure of 89.8% by 5% - the widest margin of any of the general universities in the league tables (excluding specialist institutions) - making TVU the best in the country in this respect for graduate recruitment.


The University has weathered several storms in its short life. In the mid-1990s its high-profile Vice-Chancellor, Mike Fitzgerald, ushered through a new networked "New Learning Environment" for undergraduate students, involving a shift to online delivery and assessment. The NLE did not last in that form, and in 1998 Fitzgerald resigned following a negative Quality Assurance Agency report (QAA 1998) that cited serious management failures in the delivery of this model (Webster 2000).

By 2003 the QAA report on the University had returned a much more positive verdict,[11] repeated in 2005.[12] The NLE has now become a VLE (virtual learning environment) with a "blended e-learning" approach to teaching. In 2006 admissions were down and the University has consistently struggled to meet financial targets. Lower admissions in 2006 were evident across the HE sector following the introduction of tuition fees.[13]

A 2007 article in The Guardian newspaper said that Thames Valley University was, at that time, on a list of universities whose finances were being monitored by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, as their financial stability was under threat unless they acted. The Funding Council did not publish this list.[14]

The university offers BSc courses in subjects with foundations unsupported by scientific experimental backing, such as homeopathy and nutritional medicine, and has been criticised heavily by the scientific community for doing so.[15][16]

Student life


Thames Valley University Students' Union

The Thames Valley University Students' Union (also known as TVUSU) is the recognised student organisation of the Thames Valley University, in England. The Students' Union represents the 47,000 students at all its sites, from Ealing and Slough to the newest campuses in Reading. TVUSU is affiliated to the National Union of Students.

The Union has the ground floor of the North Building at the St. Mary's Road campus at which its Coffee Shop, Bar and Gym is located. In Slough, the Union shares an office with Student Services and in Reading the Union has an office on the ground floor of the Kings Road Campus.

Student accommodation

Prior to 2006 TVU operated halls of residence only at the Reading campus, although a number of private houses in the Ealing area were rented by the University and allocated to students studying there. In September 2006 the university began to offer halls of residence accommodation to students from the Ealing and Slough campuses at a student and keyworker accommodation site named Paragon. The site won the 'Major Housing Project of the Year' category at the 2007 Building awards, and is in Brentford, approximately two miles away from the Ealing campus.

Paragon is home to the tallest building to be completed using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in the UK, which serves as a 130,000 sq ft (12,000 m2) academic facility for the university's human sciences facility.

The student accommodation at Paragon has been criticised by its residents for being too expensive, costing the highest of all London universities' halls of residence along with SOAS in the 2007-2008 year. TVU defended the costs, asserting that the halls are of an especially high standard.[17]

Notable alumni

Notable staff

External links

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d "Table 0a - All students by institution, mode of study, level of study, gender and domicile 2006/07" (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 2008-04-12.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ "TVU: Sixth Form Academy". Retrieved 2007-03-15.  
  5. ^ "TVU: Graduate School". Retrieved 2007-03-27.  
  6. ^ "TVU: Research". Retrieved 2007-03-27.  
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Institutional audit - Thames Valley University
  13. ^ "Guardian".,,1925662,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-28.  
  14. ^ Secret list of universities facing collapse | higher news | Retrieved on April 5, 2008.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Proctor, Lucy "TVU halls leave students broke". Ealing Gazette, November 2 2007 (retrieved on 18-11-07)


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