University of Essex

About University

In July 1959, Essex County Council accepted a proposal from Charles Leatherland, Baron Leatherland to establish a university in the county. A University Promotion Committee was formed, chaired by Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Sir John Ruggles-Brise, which submitted a formal application to the University Grants Committee requesting for the establishment of the University of Essex. Initial reports suggested that the Promotion Committee recommended Hylands Park in Chelmsford as the primary site, however, in May 1961 an announcement in the House of Commons preferred the foundation of the university within Wivenhoe and in December, Wivenhoe Park was acquired for the new university. In July 1962, R. A. Butler was invited as chancellor, Albert Sloman as vice-chancellor, with Anthony Rowland-Joins as registrar.

The first Professors were appointed in May 1963: Alan Gibson in Physics, Ian Proudman in Mathematics, John Bradley in Chemistry, Richard Lipsey in Economics, Peter Townsend in Sociology, Donald Davie in Literature, and Jean Blondel in Government. Whilst undergoing clearing for construction work, an Appeal Fund was deployed upon a development plan and within six months it exceeded its £1million target with The Queen Mother and Sir Winston Churchill among contributors. In Autumn 1963, red was preferred as the university colour, the first prospectus was prepared and work began on the first permanent buildings. In January 1964, the university’s academic robes were designed by Sir Hardy Amies, a Royal Warrant holder as designer to the Queen, and in March Sir John Ruggles-Brise was appointed the first Pro-Chancellor and Charles Leatherland, Baron Leatherland the first Treasurer of the university. Two months after, the university’s Armorial Bearings were published with the motto “Thought the harder, heart the keener”.


Essex is ranked in the top 50 for social sciences and 51st for law in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings by subject 2019. Essex is also ranked 126th–150th for Business and Economics, 201st–250th for Arts and Humanities, and 175th–200th for Computer Science in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[120] In the QS World University Rankings 2019 by subject, Essex is ranked 33rd for politics and international relations, 47th for sociology, 101st–150th for economics and econometrics, 101st–150th for linguistics, 151st–200th for English language and literature and 151st–200th for law and legal studies.

In 2018, it was ranked in the top 15 for overall student satisfaction out of English mainstream universities (defined by the university as non-specialist higher education institutions with a survey population of at least 500) for the sixth year running in the National Student Survey.


Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Faculty of Science and Health
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
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Posted on

March 16, 2022