University of Wales, Lampeter: Wikis


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University of Wales, Lampeter
Prifysgol Cymru, Llanbedr Pont Steffan
Motto Gair Duw Goreu Dysg
God's Word is the best learning (or teacher)
Established 1822 (Charter 1828)
Endowment £5.9M (2004/05)
Chancellor HRH the Prince of Wales
Vice-Chancellor Medwin Hughes
Staff 200
Students 9,150[1]
Undergraduates 7,455 (of which, 1,100 are on campus) [1]
Postgraduates 1,035 [1]
Location Lampeter, Wales, UK
Campus Rural
Colours Black and Gold[2]
Affiliations University of Wales
Universities UK

University of Wales, Lampeter (Welsh: Prifysgol Cymru, Llanbedr Pont Steffan) is a university in Lampeter, Wales, the oldest Academic degree awarding institution in Wales and contested as the third oldest in England and Wales after Oxford and Cambridge.

The university started in 1822 as St David's College (Coleg Dewi Sant), becoming St David's University College (Coleg Prifysgol Dewi Sant) in 1971, when it became part of the federal University of Wales. With fewer than 2,000 students on campus (who are not covered by the Universites UK Code of Practice for university managed accomodation[3]), it often claims to be one of the smallest public universities in Europe.

Principal J.R. Lloyd Thomas's decision to lead the institution into the University of Wales in the 1970s rescued the college from bankruptcy once, and more recently, the college has had to pioneer foundation degrees and distance learning through its Voluntary Sector studies and Welsh language departments, which helped to rescue the university college from amalgamation with a larger institution.

More recently, after independent assessments by the Quality Assurance Agency and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales reported problems at the institution, Lampeter entered into talks with Trinity University College with a view to the merger of the two bodies to create a new University in West Wales.[4][5] This was confirmed in April 2009, and the new University of Wales Trinity Saint David is due to come into existence in 2010.[6]

The campus's setting in the Ceredigion hills, on the banks of the River Teifi attracts a high proportion of mature students and students from outside Wales.



When Thomas Burgess was appointed Bishop of St David's in 1803 he saw a need for a college in which Welsh ordinands could receive a higher education. The existing colleges at Oxford and Cambridge were out of the geographical and financial means of most would-be students.

Burgess had no Welsh connections; he was born in England in 1756 and after Winchester and Oxford he had short stays in Salisbury and Durham before being appointed to his first bishopric in Wales in 1803. Burgess intended to build his new college to train priests in Llanddewi Brefi, which at the time was similar in size to Lampeter, but ten kilometres from it, and with an honoured place in the Christian history of Wales. When Burgess was staying with his friend the Bishop of Gloucester in 1820, however, he met John Scandrett Harford, a wealthy landowner from Gloucestershire, who donated the three acre (12,000 m²) site called Castle Field in Lampeter, so called for the Norman castle once contained in the field. This is the site on which the present University stands.

Engraving of Bishop Burgess

St David's College was thus founded just outside Lampeter in 1822. Burgess left St. David's in 1825 to become Bishop of Salisbury, but work on the college continued, largely supervised by Harford. The £16,000 required to erect the college had been raised from public donations, a government grant, and highly publicised gifts, including one from King George IV. The main college building was completed in 1827, and the college officially opened on St. David's Day of that year, welcoming its first 26 students. As such, after the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and those in Scotland, it is the oldest university institution in Britain, receiving its first charter in 1828. In 1852 the college gained the right to award the degree of Bachelor of Divinity, (BD), and in 1865 the degree of Bachelor of Arts (BA), long before the other colleges in Wales gained their own degree awarding powers.

Although it continued as a centre of clergy training until 1978, there was always a proportion of students who did not intend to be ordained. The 1896 charter specifically stated that the college could accept anyone, regardless of whether they intended to take Holy Orders, and since 1925 it had been possible to study for a BA at the college without studying any theology at all. Throughout the college's history, non-ordinands had been in a minority. In the 1950s, however, the number of ordinands declined sharply, and the College faced possible closure unless it could secure government funding. Principal J.R. Lloyd Thomas did not spare himself in the fight for survival, and in 1960, after much negotiation, University College, Cardiff, agreed to sponsor Saint David's, thus the government finally began to assist SDC financially.

In 1971 the college became a member of the federal University of Wales, and suspended its own degree-awarding powers. It became St David's University College (SDUC). By this time, the college had begun shifting its specialisms, and whilst theology continued to be a strong point, students could choose from a much wider range of liberal arts subjects. In 1996 the Privy Council — in response to a petition from the University — agreed to change its title again to the University of Wales, Lampeter in line with moves elsewhere in the University and the recognition of its growth and changing status. In September 2007, the University of Wales become confederal rather than federal in nature, effectively giving Lampeter independent university status. Unlike other former Wales colleges, however, the institution's name remained unchanged.

The university specialises in Theology, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Classics, Anthropology, Archaeology, English and History. The university is also growing in disciplines from the liberal arts and social sciences such as Film and Media Studies, Information Society Studies, Business Management, Chinese Studies and Voluntary Sector Studies.

The university has research and consultancy departments, including the Centre for Beliefs and Values, Centre for Enterprise, European and Extension Services, Archaeological Services, and Centre for the Study of Religion in Celtic Societies.

In the early 1990s there also existed an influential Human Geography department at the college. This was closed in 2001, but the diaspora of the Lampeter Geography School continue to have an influence on their field.

In 2008, the Quality Assurance Agency concluded that although the quality of Lampeter's degrees were satisfactory, they had 'limited confidence' in the institution's quality assurance procedures and systems[7]. Further to this assessment, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales commissioned a further report which found "very real problems of leadership and management" at the university.[8][9]. As a direct result, on 14 December 2008, the university announced that it was in merger talks with Trinity College, Carmarthen with the intention of forming a new university in Wales[10]. This was announced April 2009, with the new University of Wales Trinity Saint Davids coming into existence in 2010.[6].

University buildings


The Old College

The St David's Building at the University of Wales, Lampeter

C.R. Cockerell designed the original college, now called the Saint David's Building (Old Building or OB by students) in the centre of the Campus. It is a Grade II* listed building, and contains lecture rooms, common rooms, administrative offices, student residential accommodation and the following three main areas:

The Old Hall was the refectory until the present one came into use in 1969, and fell into disuse until 1991 when it opened after much restoration; it is now used as one of the main public rooms for meetings, conferences and use by outside organisations. It is also used for some examinations.

St David's Chapel was consecrated in 1827. In 1879 it was rebuilt according to the specifications of the architect Thomas Graham Jackson of Cambridge. It re-opened on 24 June 1880. It was then refurbished again during the 1930s, mainly through the provision of a new reredos in 1933 and a major overhaul of the organ in 1934.

The Founders' Library was the library until the new library opened in 1966, and now houses the University's oldest printed books (1470–1850) and manuscripts (the earliest being from the thirteenth century), given to Lampeter from 1822 onwards, as well as the archives of the university. It is a priceless collection unique to Lampeter. Named after its founders — Thomas Burgess (1756–1837), Thomas Bowdler (1754–1825) and Thomas Phillips (1760–1851) — it is a resource for teaching, research and scholarship within the University. In 2005, it was announced that a new £700,000 library building was to be built on campus to house the university's manuscripts, as the Founders' Library was not environmentally suitable for such valuable documents. This extension to the main library was completed in 2008.

Recent additions

The Original Canterbury Building

The Canterbury Building was built to house a growing number of students at the end of the 19th century. The foundation stone was laid by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1885, and the building was officially opened on 24 June, 1887. It contained a physical science laboratory, two lecture rooms, and new accommodation. However, structural problems forced the university to demolish the original building in the summer of 1971. The current Canterbury Building was opened on 20 October 1973 by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent and now houses the History, Classics and English departments.

The New Library was opened on 7 July, 1966 by the then Chancellor of the University of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh. It was extended, and then reopened by the Prince of Wales on 21 June 1984.

The Arts Building was opened by The Rt. Hon Peter Thomas, Secretary of State for Wales on 4 October, 1971, in time for it to house the new Geography department. The Archaeology and Anthropology department has since moved into the ground floor of the building, the first floor being shared by the Department of Film and Media and the Department of Management and I.T.

The Cliff Tucker Theatre, on the banks of the River Dulas, was opened by Sir Anthony Hopkins in 1996, and incorporates teaching rooms and lecture theatres, and a large computer room. It is named in honour of Cliff Tucker, a former student and benefactor of the university.

The Sheikh Khalifa Building completed in 1997, and named after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a benefactor of the university, is the home of the Department of Theology, Religious Studies and Islamic Studies, one the largest departments of its kind in the United Kingdom. It was opened by Professor Sir Stewart Sutherland. Behind the departmental building is a small mosque, used by Islamic students and residents of the town.

The Roderic Bowen Research Centre completed 2007, and named after Roderic Bowen, a former president of the university, it houses the Founder's Library collection and archives, and adjoins the main library building. The centre was opened on 17 October, 2008, by First Minister for Wales, Rhodri Morgan.

Academic dress

A modern reproduction of the original Lampeter BA hood.

Lampeter awards University of Wales degrees, and as such, the academic dress matches that of the University of Wales — graduates wear a black stuff gown, with bell sleeves for bachelors, and glove sleeve for masters. Hoods are lined with mazarin blue shot green (arts), mazarin blue shot red (divinity). The degrees of MSc (lined yellow shot black) and MBA (yellow shot red, bound light blue) have been recently introduced. The traditional Lampeter academic dress differs from this.

Undergraduates wore a black stuff gown, with bell-sleeves, with the whole sleeve split open in front. The year-round wearing of undergraduate academic dress ended in 1971 when Lampeter joined the University of Wales, however there is some support for a resurrection of this tradition by current students.

Bachelor of Divinity. A black gown, of MA pattern (long closed sleeves), with a double crescent cut at the end of each sleeve. A black silk hood, lined with dark violet silk, and bound with 1" white silk. Originally, it could be made in either the Oxford or the Cambridge shape, but Cambridge became the norm.

Bachelor of Arts. A black stuff gown of Cambridge BA pattern. A black silk hood, part-lined and bound with 'miniver' - white fur with black spots. (Rabbit was usually used, with 'stick-on' spots, on account of the cost of real miniver!). As with the BD, it could be made in either the Oxford or the Cambridge shape, but Cambridge became the norm.

There was also a two-year course for those who could not afford the full three-year one. From 1884, this was called the Licence in Divinity (LD). Holders wore the undergraduate gown, with a black stuff hood, lined with black stuff, and bound for 1" with white silk. This was always Cambridge shape. The LD was not awarded after about 1940, and in 1969 the hood was used for the DipTh, which was awarded until the College ceased clergy training in 1978. A degree with a similar title was introduced in 2007, the Licence in Divinity (Doctoral). This, however, is a postdoctoral degree in theology or religious studies, the first of its kind in the UK. The academicals prescribed to this degree is non-conventional in that it consists of a scarlet mozzetta trimmed with white fur that is worn over the festal gown and under the hood (of the relevant Wales degree) and it is worn with a scarlet bonnet with gold cord and tassel.

The University awarded a number of Licences Theology (LTh), Religious Studies (LRS), Islamic Studies, Latin, Classical Greek (Lic)). From 2010 these qualifications will be re-named Graduate Diplomas and be awarded by the University of Wales.[citation needed] The academic dress will be the Wales BA gown with the diploma black hood, part lined with black silk and twisted cord of the University colours. In the past holders of Lampeter's Licences may have worn the academic dress of the University of Wales: University of Wales BA gown, with the old Lampeter BD hood with Square and in sub-fusc.


The university has a sports hall with badminton and squash courts, and a multigym with weight training equipment. For outdoor sports, the University has tennis courts, a cricket field and facilities for football and rugby. The college cricket pavilion, opened officially on 1 May 1909 is now a listed building.

Lampeter has active netball, field hockey, football and rugby union teams, all of which play in the college colours of black and amber.


Rugby was introduced to Lampeter by Vice-Principal Rowland Williams around 1850, and as such the college can claim to have the oldest Rugby football team in Wales. Despite some debate as to whether this honour belongs to the town team or the University side, the Welsh Rugby Union's official history "Fields of Praise: The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union, 1881-1981"[11] indicates the college team as the first. However, Lampeter Town RFC were the representatives of Lampeter at the formation of the WRU in 1881.

The red strip worn by Wales is one of the University's original strips and as such the College team is the only other club permitted to wear it. The club was one of the founder members of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1881, but following trouble at a match against the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1933, were reprimanded from the union.

The club's nicknames are Mad Pilgrims and Fighting Parsons, reflecting Lampeter's history of training clergy. A match is played between the student team and an old boys (graduate) team on the first Saturday in December each year. In recent years the old boys have formed a touring side know as Old Parsonians RFC. The old boys have become known for their battle cry "chuff". Old Parsonians play in the college change strip of black/navy, maroon and white. Sky and white socks are worn as a recognition of the historical rugby link with Cambridge.

The College Yell

Taken from the Student Handbook 1938–39, the College Yell was originally used at sporting and other competitive events. It has largely fallen into obscurity in recent years, though is occasionally resurrected by zealous students.

Hip Hip Hooray
Hip Hip Hooray
Hip Hip Hooray
Nawr Dewi. Nawr Dewi. Nawr Dewi.
Dy Blant. Dy Blant. Dy Blant.
Backshe Odinthorog. Backshe Odinthorog.
Niri Giri Wari. Niri Giri Wari.
Zey Zey Zey
Bing Bang Odin. Bing Bang Odin.
Io Dewi. Io Dewi. Io Dewi.
Dewi Sant. Dewi Sant. Dewi Sant.

Student life

Three full time sabbatical officers and ten non-sabbatical officers oversee student entertainment, welfare and childcare, as well as ensuring that the views of Lampeter students are represented on a national level, through affiliation with the National Union of Students. The Students Union also publishes a popular satirical magazine entitled 1822 which "blends satire, pointlessness and toilet humour".

The secluded rural location lends the campus a special atmosphere, and a very high proportion of students are involved in clubs, societies and associations. There are over 30 recognised bodies, ranging from African Students' Society, Chinese Society and the International Students' Association, to Medieval Re-enactment, Fencing Club and Organic Gardening Society. Alongside these are a student-run bodies not affiliated with the Students' Union, such as the Christian Union, the Jewish Society, Conservative Future and Amnesty.

Lampeter is over an hour away from the nearest city of Swansea, and as such, some students find it difficult to adjust to rural life, although for many who come here this is a key attraction, with a high proportion of students getting involved with outdoor activities and local environmental projects. Local country towns of Carmarthen and Llandeilo are nearby as well as the coastal resorts of Aberystwyth and New Quay. The union building, on the banks of the Afon Dulas and extended in 1998, contains a student bar and small club, known as the Extension, which hosts parties and live music events, and the university's film society shows films in the Arts Hall and Cliff Tucker Theatre.

Notable academics

Reverend Professor Rowland Williams

Notable alumni

Academic departments

Defunct departments

Lampeter Geography School

The Lampeter Geography School was an important collection of academics based at the Geography department of the University of Wales, Lampeter. The department has since closed, but the Lampeter diaspora continues to have a major impact on the academic discipline.



The Robbins Report of 1963 recommended immediate expansion of British universities. In its implementation of these recommendations, Lampeter planned to open new Economics and Geography departments. The former never materialised, but the groundwork was well in place for the Geography department to open by 1970 or 71. The new Arts Building of the University was opened by the Secretary of State for Wales on October 4, 1971, which provided the new department with luxurious lecture and teaching rooms in time for its opening. Dr David Thomas (not to be confused with David SG Thomas, Professor at Oxford) became the first Professor of Geography at Lampeter in 1970, and in 1971, Donald A Davidson and John A Dawson joined the staff as lecturers, ready to welcome the first Geography students to Lampeter in October 1971.

Academics of the Lampeter Geography School

See also



  • D T W Price, A History of Saint David's University College, Lampeter, University of Wales Press, Cardiff. Volume One, to 1898 (ISBN 0-7083-0606-3) Volume Two 1898–1971 (ISBN 0-7083-1062-1).
  • D T W Price, Yr Esgob Burgess a Choleg Llanbedr: Bishop Burgess and Lampeter College, University of Wales Press, Cardiff (ISBN 0-7083-0965-8)
  • Nicholas Groves Academical robes of Saint David's College Lampeter (1822–1971), University of Wales, Lampeter Special Publications (ISBN 0-905285-68-9).

External links

Coordinates: 52°06′50″N 4°04′33″W / 52.1139°N 4.0759°W / 52.1139; -4.0759


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