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University of Wales, Lampeter

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University of Wales, Lampeter (Welsh: Prifysgol Cymru, Llanbedr Pont Steffan) is a university in Lampeter, Wales, the oldest degree awarding institution in Wales, and 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, it often claims to be one of the smallest public universities in Europe. In many ways, then, it is miraculous that the university has survived in the increasingly competitive atmosphere of the British Higher Education sector, and the institution's financial health was often a cause for concern. 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 has helped to rescue the university college once more from having to amalgamate with a larger institution. Through this adversity, however, the university continues to rate highly in its teaching and research, particularly the Theology and Religious Studies, and English Literature and Language departments which received the top rating in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise. The campus' beautiful setting in the Ceredigion hills, on the banks of the River Teifi attract a high proportion of mature students and students from outside Wales, who wish to escape the urban environments of the majority of the other British universities.

History
When Thomas Burgess was appointed Bishop of St David's in 1803 he almost immediately identified the need to establish 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 men.

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. Originally 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.

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.

Today, 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 & social sciences such as Film and Media Studies, Information Society Studies, Business Management, Chinese Studies and Voluntary Sector Studies.

The university also has a number of research and consultancy departments, most notably, Centre for Beliefs and Values, Centre for Enterprise, European & Extension Services, Archaeological Services, and Centre for the Study of Religion in Celtic Societies.

In the early 1990s there also existed a hugely 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.

University buildings
The Old College
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 originally consecrated in 1827. In 1879 it was closed and rebuilt according to the specifications of the architect Thomas Graham Jackson of Cambridge. It re-opened on June 24, 1880. It was then refurbished again during the 1930s mainly by 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 (14701850) and manuscripts (the earliest 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 (17561837), Thomas Bowdler (17541825) and Thomas Phillips (17601851) it is a fundamental 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 is currently under construction.

Recent additions
There have been a number of notable additions to the university in recent times:

The Canterbury Building was originally 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 June 24, 1887. It contained a physical science laboratory, two lecture rooms, and new accommodation. Structural problems forced the university to demolish the original building in the Summer of 1971, however. The current Canterbury Building was opened on October 20, 1973 by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent and now houses the History and English departments.

The New Library was opened on July 7, 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 June 21, 1984.

The Arts Building was opened by The Rt. Hon Peter Thomas, Secretary of State for Wales on October 4, 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 officially 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 Nahayan, a benefactor of the university, is the new purpose-built home of the Department of Theology, Religious Studies and Islamic Studies, one the largest departments of its kind in the United Kingdom. It was officially opened by Professor Sir Stewart Sutherland. Behind the departmental building is a small mosque, used by Islamic students and residents of the town.

Academic dress
Lampeter currently 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.

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 License 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.

The College currently awards a number of Licences (Theology, Religious Studies, Islamic Studies, Latin, Classical Greek). Holders of the Licence in Theology may wear the University of Wales BA gown, with the old Lampeter BD hood.

Sports
The university owns 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. Indeed, the college cricket pavilion, opened officially on 1 May 1909 is now a listed building in its own right.

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

Rugby
Rugby was introduced to Lampeter by Vice-Principal Rowland Williams around 1850, and as such Lampeter Rugby Football Club can claim to be the oldest Rugby football team in Wales. 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 team continues to be one of the more successful sports team at Lampeter, although they are the worse-performing club in the welsh leagues. The club's nicknames are Mad Pilgrims and Fighting Parsons, reflecting Lampeter's history of training clergy. Traditionally a match is played between the current 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" which became popular among the students around the millennium. Old Parsonians play in the college change strip of black/navy, maroon and white. Sky and white socks are worn as a recognition to the historical rugby link with Cambridge.

The College Yell

Taken from the Student Handbook 193839, 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.
    Hooray!

Student life
The Students' Union at Lampeter is heavily involved in Student Life and entertainment. 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. Lampeter's small and compact campus, and its beautiful rural setting, attracts a unique and varied range of students, and it is regularly commented that the university is one of the friendliest in the United Kingdom and that everyone seems to know one another. The atmosphere is unique. The Students Union also publishes a popular satirical magazine 1822 which "blends satire, pointlessness and toilet humour".

Lampeter is well over an hour away from the nearest city of Swansea, and as such, many students find it difficult to adjust to rural life, although to some who come here, this is among the main attractions. Local country towns of Carmarthen and Llandeilo are nearby as well as the coastal resorts of Aberystwyth and New Quay. The union entertainments officer has to work tirelessly, organising events for students. The union building, purpose built on the banks of the Afon Dulas and extended in 1998, contains a student bar and small club, called the Extension, which hosts various parties and live music events, and the university's film society shows new and old films in the Arts Hall and Cliff Tucker Theatre. There is also a strong emphasis of getting students involved in clubs, societies and associations; there are well over 30 to choose from ranging from African Students' Society to Pudding Club and Women's Rugby.


 

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