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‘Free Range University’ concept is rolled out nationally

Tom Corfield, founder of Fruni

Tom Corfield, founder of Fruni

Press release issued: 5 July 2012

A social enterprise started by students and alumni at the University of Bristol is set to expand to universities across the UK, giving members of the public a unique opportunity to experience inspirational teaching for free.

The Free Range University project, known as Fruni, is an online tool which allows students to vote for the lecturers they think everyone should have the chance to experience. A series of open lectures is then organised at the university.

The concept is based on the Best of Bristol Lectures (BoB), which has now been run successfully by students at Bristol University for the past two years.

Over 2,000 students voted on which teachers from across the university they felt were the most interesting and engaging. This led to a series of lunchtime lectures which were attended by more than 6,000 students, staff, alumni and members of the public.

Following on from this success, founder Tom Corfield was able to secure funding from the University of Bristol and social enterprise charity UnLtd to develop the online platform which allows students at any university to replicate the model.

Tom, who developed the BoB Lectures idea after he decided to sit in on some of his friends’ favourite lectures, graduated in 2009 and has since built on the concept by creating Fruni.

He said: “I studied engineering but spent a lot of my time at Bristol going to see my friends’ favourite lecturers in action. This turned out to be the most rewarding thing I did. I came up with the BoB Lectures to allow other students to share this fantastic experience. Because they were held at lunchtime, we soon found that members of the public were coming along for an insight into the great teaching that’s on their doorstep but normally behind closed doors.”

Tom, 26 and now living in London, hopes that Fruni will not only engage with the public, but will also help to improve the student experience by giving students the chance to sample inspiring teaching from across their university, regardless of the subject they study.

He added: “Fruni’s expansion to other universities is largely down to students now. I’ve set up the tool which allows them to establish the lectures and I hope they’ll embrace it to achieve the success seen at Bristol. We’re passionate about the idea that just a small amount of access to inspirational teaching can spark off a lifelong desire to learn.”

David Alder, Director of Communications and Marketing at the University of Bristol, said: “The Free Range University concept builds on the huge success of the Best of Bristol lectures and takes it far and wide.  We are very pleased and proud to support the initiative.”

Any interested students, Student Unions or university staff should visit for further information or contact Fruni founder Tom Corfield at

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