Writtle University College was audited by the RHS and received a grade one: excellent for both Level 2 and 3 Practical Certificates in Horticulture. The audit said there were excellent, knowledgable and approachable staff, with success in the top 95%.
Senior horticultural lecturer Tom Cole said: "We're especially happy with this as it confirms that our RHS level 3 was offered for the first time last year. Level 3 resumes on 5th October with spaces still available.
The College is now working with head gardener Steve Coghill of Kings College Cambridge to run programmes in the Fellowes Garden, offering RHS Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture and tutored by Writtle's Christina Lavelle.
Cole said: "This is a unique opportunity for collaboration between these two institutions and within easy reach to a range of other gardens such as Cambridge Botanical Gardens and Anglesey Abbey.
"As well as our practical success Writtle RHS students have also surpassed themselves as latest theory results have seen a year on year improvement and increase in those achieving passes with commendation."
Meanwhile, Writtle University College graduates marked the completion of their studies at Chelmsford Cathedral on 9 September.
Graduates from all subject areas, including Conservation, Sport, Design, Equine, Agriculture and Horticulture schemes, celebrated the culmination of their undergraduate and postgraduate studies, while two Honorary Doctorates were conferred, a new Fellow of Writtle University College was appointed and many awards were handed out to top graduates and staff.
Many graduates will now enter the world of work within their chosen industry, whilst others will continue their academic journey
The ceremonies were split into two, with the School of Sustainable Environments and Design welcoming special guest Leigh Morris – Chief Executive Officer for the National Land Based College – whilst the School of Sport, Equine and Animal Science welcomed Professor Sir Patrick Bateson FRS.
During the annual ceremony, Garden and Estate Manager for the National Trust’s Stourhead Garden in Wiltshire, Alan Power, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree by Writtle University College. he was nominated for his services to the horticultural sector since graduating from Writtle in 1993. He has become well-known for his lyrical and evocative descriptions of the autumnal landscape at Stourhead which he shares with listeners to BBC Radio Four’s PM programme. He is also a presenter on BBC Four’s British Gardens in Time series and is currently a presenter on Gardeners World on BBC Two.
Also conferred with an Honorary Doctorate was retired Writtle Lecturer John Roberts. He was nominated for his services to Writtle through his 40 years of teaching business management at degree level and his relentless work with the University College’s Students’ Union for more than 15 years after retirement. He also volunteers with the Essex Agricultural Society, supporting both the Society and the University College.
Speaking about the graduation, Vice-Chancellor Dr Stephen Waite said: "It was with great pride that I witness so many talented young people receive the degree they work so hard to achieve during their time at Writtle. Every year, our historic institution prepares high-calibre graduates, ready to make their mark in the world.
"The depth and breadth of academic knowledge, research and innovation from lecturers and students is always impressive. The ceremonies are always such a great occasion and provide the perfect platform for graduates to mark this success with their family and friends."
"I must say huge congratulations to everyone who graduated. You are the inspiration for the next generation of talented Writtles tudents."
There were also many other special awards handed out during the ceremonies, including:
· Tom Schwier - Worshipful Company of Farmers Award for best agriculture dissertation
· Andrew Stock – Essex Wildlife Trust best academic performance
· Daniel Kilpatrick – Chartered Institute of Horticulture award for the best plant knowledge
· Elizabeth Wood – The Turner Prize (sponsored by Margot Turner) award for design and innovation
· Jin-Koo Park – Liz Lake Associates Postgraduate Landscape Architecture Prize for top design student
· Daniel Ivermee – The Alice Noakes Memorial Charitable Trust Prize for best MSc Animal Welfare and Conservation student
Also recognised at the ceremony was Martin Stimson (Fellowship), Alison Thomas, Paul Clarke and Sue Tracey (Duchess of Kent Award), Steve Terry (Best Supervisor), Jane Hart (Most Inspirational Lecturer), Ruth Cox (Best Support Staff) and Dr Greg Deacon (Most Inspirational Lecturer).