Harper Adams was established in 1901 following a major bequest by local landowner Thomas Harper Adams. Throughout its history it has been dedicated to the founding principle of ‘teaching practical and theoretical agriculture’, bringing these traditions together in academic practice whilst serving the needs of rural businesses and communities. Combining applied scientific investigation with the provision of support to industry, from short courses to consultancy, has remained a feature of all the activities the University has developed over the years and has resulted in strong relationships between the institution’s academic activities and the business world and its position as a leading UK academic institution in its field. Today, Harper Adams has an enviable reputation within the higher education and rural sectors as a centre of academic excellence.
The University has a headcount of nearly 5,000 students, just under 600 staff, a third of whom are academic staff, and a turnover of over £44 million in 2018/19. The University has a national recruitment base and has maintained student intakes over the last few years. Further modest growth in student numbers is projected as part of our Strategic Plan, focusing in particular on UK students, a small number of international partnerships, maintenance of our workforce development programmes and growth of our postgraduate community.
The last 10-15 years have been immensely important in the evolution of the institution. Harper Adams became a University College in 1999 and was granted research degree awarding powers in 2006. During this period the institution grew in stature and reputation through the high quality of its teaching activities and research. We were awarded the only Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning for the land-based HE sector. A major development programme for workforce development, starting in earnest in 2008/09 and financially supported by HEFCE until 2012/13, evolved from our Employer Engagement activities. This continues to be one of the key ways that Harper Adams supports its industry partners to remain abreast of innovation and best practice. Harper Adams was awarded University Title in December 2012 and has since developed rapidly as a centre for research with impact and as a major contributor to the supply of graduates for the agri-food chain and related sectors.
Harper Adams, by virtue of its campus and rural location, offers a great experience for its students, whether domestic or from overseas. With some of the strongest ratings in the National Student Survey (sixth in the HE sector in 2019) the community feel of the University underpins its ethos and its student centred approach. Whilst Harper Adams has a relatively high proportion of students from lower socio-economic groups in the UK, it also has some of the highest continuation rates and is routinely within the top 20 institutions in sector employability performance indicators.
Broadening the Academic Base
Although its roots lie firmly in the world of agriculture, the University has sought to ensure that it tackles a wider range of subjects of importance to the well-being of rural businesses and communities whilst maintaining its distinctive character and mission. As such the traditional subject mix has been broadened with areas such as food technology, off-road vehicle design, veterinary nursing and, most recently, environmental science, veterinary physiotherapy, mechanical engineering and applied zoology. The University is widely regarded as a centre of excellence in land based and rural higher education, as witnessed by the institution being ranked ‘Modern University of the Year’ in the 2020 Sunday Times University Guide, and its 2014 and 2019 shortlistings for the title of University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards. Harper Adams has also sought to extend the international scope of its work at a time when high-quality applied science is a critical factor in addressing global problems relating to food supply, environmental management and climate change. Courses are structured to make the most of the University’s multidisciplinary environment, and each involves a sandwich placement period in a relevant business.
Harper Adams is the leading specialist institution of its kind within the UK, as measured by scale and through a number of key indicators and league tables across the higher education sector. It is ranked 17th in the HEIs in the UK in the 2020 Sunday Times University Guide, a significant achievement given that this was only the 12th time the University had been included in the full league table. Harper Adams was placed 27th in the Complete University Guide 2020, moving up 21 places since 2019.
Harper Adams is committed to the wellbeing of our staff and their personal and professional development. This is reflected in our annual employee survey where staff tell us they are proud to be a part of the University and that is a good, safe place to work where they feel trusted to do their jobs effective with support from their managers.
We are based on an attractive single-site campus in rural Shropshire, with free staff parking, leisure facilities and only a short drive from the busy market town of Newport.
We positively welcome applications from across all sections and backgrounds of society to ensure we have a diverse staff and student community and deliver a study and work environment that is vibrant and engaging.