UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX
The formal application by a county promotion
committee for a university in Essex was approved by the University Grants Committee in
1961, and an academic planning board was
constituted. In 1962 R. A. Butler (later Lord
Butler of Saffron Walden) was appointed chancellor and A. E. (later Sir Albert) Sloman
vice-chancellor. The University Grants Committee guaranteed funding to provide for a
student population rising to 3,000 in 10 years,
but imposed no plan. Essex County Council
gave a site of 200 a. at Wivenhoe Park, three
miles east of Colchester town centre, and
together with three Essex county boroughs
promised £120,000 a year. Sponsors raised
money through public appeal towards the initial capital cost. (fn. 81) A royal charter was granted
in 1965. (fn. 82) The first students, c. 120, were
accepted in 1964 and accommodated in Wivenhoe House and its outbuildings and temporary
huts. Teaching and research buildings and six
residential tower blocks were built in the 1960s
designed by Kenneth Capon. Essex students
gained a reputation for militancy following
their activity in the widespread national student unrest of 1968, although only a minority
were extremists. (fn. 83)
In the 1970s and 1980s a health centre, a
two-storeyed student residence, a 40-bedroom
extension to Wivenhoe House, a new building
for the biology department, and a building for
a printing centre, bookshop, and exhibition
gallery were added; Wivenhoe House was converted into Wivenhoe Park Conference Centre.
The university concentrated its teaching into
large departments. In the late 1970s it faced
financial problems which threatened closure,
but in the 1980s gained respect nationally and
internationally, co-operating with local companies, securing important research contracts,
and attracting about a third of its students from
overseas. (fn. 84)
Four residential blocks of two and three
storeys were built in 1991-2 providing 176
study bedrooms. (fn. 85) The five-storeyed Rab Butler building was opened in 1991 as a headquarters for the British Household Panel Survey. (fn. 86)
In 1993 there were 17 departments, more than
5,500 students, 5 industrial units, and the
Economic and Social Research Council's data
archive; the university employed 1,300 people.
A building expansion scheme costing £5.5 million was under way to provide 234 homes for
1,200 students in a new student village, and a
96-place day nursery between Boundary Road
and the north towers. (fn. 87)
||A. E. Sloman, A University in the Making, 13-17.
||Inf. from Mr. B. Russell, Publicity Officer.
||Colch. Charter 800 Assn. Colch. 800, 82-3; M.
Beloff, The Plateglass Universities, 112-21; E.R.O., SA
||Colch. Charter 800 Assn. Colch. 800, 83-4; E.R.O.,
SA 0121, 0311.
E.C.S. 17 Aug. 1990.
||Ibid. 15 Nov. 1991.
||Inf. from Mr. Russell; E.C.S. 23 Apr. 1993.