Thames Valley University (TVU) is a British university based on campuses in Slough and Reading in Berkshire, and Ealing and Brentford in west London. Aside from the Open University, it is the largest university by student population in the United Kingdom.
Thames Valley University traces its roots back to 1860, when the Lady Byron School was founded at what is now TVU’s Ealing campus. The school later became Ealing College of Higher Education.
The Slough campus was founded in 1907 as an elementary school. By the 1940s, it had become a technical institute, and in the 1970s it became Thames Valley College of Higher Education.
In 1990, Ealing College of Higher Education, Thames Valley College of Higher Education, Queen Charlotte’s College of Health Care Studies and the London College of Music were merged to become the Polytechnic of West London. Two years later, the polytechnic became a university under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, and adopted the name Thames Valley University.
In 2004, the university merged with Reading College and School of Arts and Design (which was originally founded in 1947 as Reading Technical College). Reading College’s premises became TVU’s Reading campus.
The merger has made TVU a very large university by UK standards. Since then, a major rebranding exercise has taken place. As a university, TVU aims to be unconventional. It appeals largely to a West London and Thames Valley student body, with many students commuting from home. It offers a variety of professional training courses unavailable elsewhere. Some 45% of students come from non-white ethnic groups, and 60% study part-time (Guardian 2006).
In May 2009, TVU announced that it be would closing its Slough campus in 2010 due to the relocation of nursing students, who make up the majority of the student body there, to the Reading campus. Other courses will be moved to one of the Universities west London campuses, although some part-time and nursing courses will remain in Slough at a different site.