Cranfield University History

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Cranfield University History

Cranfield University is a British postgraduate and research-based public university specialising in science, engineering, technology and management. It contains two campuses; the main campus is at Cranfield, England, and a smaller campus is located at Shrivenham, England. The main campus is unique in the United Kingdom for having a semi-operational airport (Cranfield Airport) on campus. The airport facilities are used by Cranfield University’s own aircraft in the course of aerospace teaching and research.

Cranfield was founded as the College of Aeronautics in 1946, and became a university in its own right as the Cranfield Institute of Technology in 1969.

College of Aeronautics (1946-1969)

Cranfield University was formed in 1946 as the College of Aeronautics, on the former Royal Air Force base of RAF Cranfield, which opened in 1937. Together with other individuals, Stafford Cripps was instrumental in the foundation of the original college in 1946, from which the university developed. The Vice-Chancellor’s building is known as “Stafford-Cripps”.

Between 1955 and 1969 a period of diversification took place. In 1967 the college presented the Privy Council with a petition for the grant of a Royal Charter along with a draft charter for a new institution to be called Cranfield Institute of Technology.

Cranfield Institute of Technology (1969-1993)

The Cranfield Institute of Technology was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1969, giving the institution its own degree-awarding powers.

Since then the former National College of Agricultural Engineering established at Silsoe near Luton, Bedfordshire, in the 1960s, was incorporated. This was relocated to the Cranfield campus and closed for teaching undergraduates in 2007 whilst retaining some postgraduate courses.

An academic partnership with the Royal Military College of Science (RMCS) at Shrivenham was formed in 1984. RMCS, whose roots can be traced back to 1772, is now a part of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom and now forms the Defence College of Management and Technology, known as ‘DCMT’ and from 2009 as “Cranfield Defence and Security”. RMCS became wholly postgraduate in c.2007 with undergraduate courses moved elsewhere.

Cranfield University (1993-present)

In 1993 the institution’s Royal Charter was amended to change its name to Cranfield University. (Cranfield had been a full university in every sense since its original Royal Charter of 1969, but the new name was intended to better reflect Cranfield’s work in disciplines outside the ‘technology’ area, such as management and defence.) A decade later in 2003, Cranfield became wholly postgraduate and the Shrivenham site admitted its last undergraduates. In 2006, it was decided that activities on the Silsoe site would be relocated to the main campus at Cranfield. As a result, a substantial building programme was undertaken on Cranfield campus, including the provision of departmental buildings and additional accommodation (Stringfellow and Chilver Halls), and Silsoe-based staff were transferred to Cranfield.