The Spirit of Worcester: stories from campus, 1946-2016

The Spirit of Worcester is an oral history project that brings together a vibrant array of voices and stories about life at Worcester, from the very first day to the modern day.

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The result is a colourful collection of memories from staff, students, governors and fellows past and present. This includes centenarian Leslie Broughton, who was one of the very first students on the campus in 1946, and former Miss India and Bollywood star Swaroop Sampat Rawal.  

There is also an updated second edition of the University’s history book available – The University of Worcester: An Illustrated History. Together, the history book and oral history project tell the story of life at Worcester down the years.  

Audio introduction 

University of Worcester Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, Professor Sarah Greer, discusses her passion for oral history, and the immense value contained within these stories.  

Themes

The interviews for this oral history project are grouped together under four central themes: 

The story so far  

In 1946, the City of Worcester Teacher Training College opened its doors for the first time. The war effort had left behind a weary and chaotic nation that, nevertheless, was looking to the future, and to regeneration. And so the then Worcester College was founded, with a mission to win the peace through education.  

When the first lecturers arrived in 1946, they found the site largely unprepared, and still guarded by military watchmen. Early staff meetings were often interrupted so that lecturers could lend a hand making the beds or hefting furniture in to place, as they scrambled to prepare the college for the arrival of the first intake.  

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When the first students did arrive, there was still a great deal of work left to do, so Staff and students worked together to bring the new college to life. Out of this time of chaos, comradery and cooperation, the fabled ‘Worcester spirit’ was born.  

From an initial cohort of just 240 demobilised servicemen and women, Worcester has enjoyed phenomenal success, with over 10,000 students now studying across a broad range of high quality courses, a growing port-folio of internationally recognised research, and an array of outstanding world-class facilities.

 

Increasingly, Worcester’s approach, that foregrounds work that makes a positive contribution to society, is gaining the University recognition on both a national and an international scale. It is perhaps fitting then that Worcester should have topped the inaugural Times Higher Education Impact Rankings in 2019, which have been established to recognise the work that universities do for the good of society. Ranked 1st in the UK and 26th worldwide, Worcester is now part of a vanguard of socially engaged institutions that are reshaping the very idea of what excellence in higher education should look like.  

Worcester also enjoyed a record year for student satisfaction in 2019, ranking 8th for overall satisfaction amongst English non-specialist universities in the highly respected National Student Survey.  

As the University embarks upon a new chapter in its long and fascinating history, the time seems right to revisit the past and remember the many steps along the road that have brought the University of Worcester from emergency teacher training college to number one in the UK for social impact.