University of Leeds

University of Leeds
Motto Latin: Et augebitur scientia
Motto in English
"And knowledge will be increased"
Type Public
Established 1904 – University of Leeds
1887 – affiliated to the federal Victoria University
1831 – Leeds School of Medicine
Endowment £66.7 million (as of 31 July 2015)[1]
Chancellor Melvyn Bragg
Vice-Chancellor Alan Langlands
Administrative staff
Students 31,030 (2014/15)[3]
Undergraduates 23,005 (2014/15)[3]
Postgraduates 8,025 (2014/15)[3]
Location Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
53°48′26″N 1°33′6″W / 53.80722°N 1.55167°W / 53.80722; -1.55167Coordinates: 53°48′26″N 1°33′6″W / 53.80722°N 1.55167°W / 53.80722; -1.55167
Campus Urban, Suburban
Newspaper The Gryphon



The University of Leeds is a redbrick university located in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. Originally named the Yorkshire College of Science and later simply the Yorkshire College, it incorporated the Leeds School of Medicine and became part of the federal Victoria University alongside Owens College (which eventually became the University of Manchester) and University College Liverpool (which became the University of Liverpool).[5] In 1904, a royal charter, created in 1903, was granted to the University of Leeds by King Edward VII.[6]

The university has 31,030 students, the eighth largest university in the UK (out of 165). From 2006 to present, the university has consistently been ranked within the top 5 (alongside Manchester University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Nottingham University and Edinburgh University) in the United Kingdom for the number of applications received.[7] Leeds had a total income of £639.6 million in 2014/15, of which £152.1 million was from research grants and contracts.[1] The university has financial endowments of £66.7 million (2014–15), ranking outside the top ten British universities by financial endowment.[1]

The university is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, the N8 Group for research collaboration,[8] the Worldwide Universities Network, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, the White Rose University Consortium, the Santander Network and CDIO and is also affiliated to the Association of MBAs, EQUIS and Universities UK.

For 2015-16, Leeds is ranked nationally between 14th (Times and Sunday Times) and 23rd (The Guardian). Internationally, the university is ranked as the 32nd best in Europe and globally ranked 87th in the 2015 QS World University Rankings[9] and 101–150 (2015 ARWU). Leeds was ranked 10th in the UK for research power in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework,[10] the best result in the Yorkshire and the Humber region[10] and between 2014–15, Leeds was ranked as the 10th most targeted British university by the UK's top graduate employers.[11] The university was named the 2017 Sunday Times University of the Year, having been runner-up in 2016.[12]

Notable alumni include former Secretary of State Jack Straw, former co-chairman of the Conservative Party Sayeeda Warsi, American actor Chris Pine, Piers Sellers (NASA astronaut) and six Nobel laureates.[13][14]


Prior to formation

An early view of the Great Hall, next to the Clothworkers' Court

The university's history is linked to the development of Leeds as an international centre for the textile industry and clothing manufacture in the United Kingdom during the Victorian era. The university's roots can be traced back to the formation of schools of medicine in English cities to serve the general public.

Prior to 1900, only five universities had been established in England and one in Wales. These consisted of the University of Oxford (founded between 1096–1201), University of Cambridge (founded c. 1201), University of London (founded in 1836), Durham University (founded in 1832), and the federal Victoria University (founded in 1880); the University of Wales was founded in 1893.

The Victoria University was established in Manchester in 1880 as a federal university in the North of England, instead of the government elevating Owens College to a university and grant it a royal charter. Owens College was the sole college of Victoria University from 1880 to 1884; in 1887 Yorkshire College was the third to join the university.[5]

Origins of the Leeds School of Medicine and the Yorkshire College

In 1831, the Leeds School of Medicine was established with the aim of serving the needs of the five medical institutions which had been established in the city. In 1874, the Yorkshire College of Science was created to provide education for the children of middle-class industrialists and merchants. Financial support from local industry was crucial in setting up the College and aiding the students. The university continues to recognise these elements of its history; for example, there is still remains a Clothworkers' Court on campus.

The College of Science, modelled on Owens College, Manchester, was established in 1851 as non-sectarian and was open to Protestant Dissenters, Catholics and Jews (though not then to women) since the Oxford and Cambridge, restricted attendance to members only of the Church of England. University College London was non-sectarian. The religious qualification ceased in the 1850s but the classics-based education continued at Oxford and Cambridge. The Northern colleges continued to promote themselves as offering a general education that was progressive and pragmatic in nature as were the technical colleges of Germany and the ancient universities upon which they were modelled.

The Yorkshire College of Science began by teaching experimental physics, mathematics, geology, mining, chemistry and biology, and soon became well known as an international centre for the study of engineering and textile technology (due to the manufacturing and textile trades being strong in the West Riding). When classics, modern literature and history went on offer a few years later, the Yorkshire College of Science became simply the Yorkshire College. In 1884, the Yorkshire College absorbed the Leeds School of Medicine and subsequently joined the federal Victoria University (established at Manchester in 1880) on 3 November 1887.[15] Students in this period were awarded external degrees by the University of London.[16]

Victoria University and Royal Charter

The Parkinson Building, named after Frank Parkinson, a major benefactor to the university

Leeds was given its first university in 1887 when the Yorkshire College joined the federal Victoria University on 3 November. The Victoria University had been established by royal charter in 1880; Owens College being at first the only member college.[17] Leeds now found itself in an educational union with close social cousins from Manchester and Liverpool.

Unlike Owens College, the Leeds campus of the Victoria University had never barred women from its courses. However, it was not until special facilities were provided at the Day Training College in 1896 that women began enrolling in significant numbers. The first female student to begin a course at the university was Lilias Annie Clark, who studied Modern Literature and Education.

The Victoria (Leeds) University was a short-lived concept, as the multiple university locations in Manchester and Liverpool were keen to establish themselves as separate, independent universities. This was partially due to the benefits a university had for the cities of Liverpool and Manchester whilst the institutions were also unhappy with the practical difficulties posed by maintaining a federal arrangement across broad distances. The interests of the universities and respective cities in creating independent institutions was further spurred by the granting of a charter to the University of Birmingham in 1900 after lobbying from Joseph Chamberlain.

Following a Royal Charter and Act of Parliament in 1903, the then newly formed University of Liverpool began the fragmentation of the Victoria University by being the first member to gain independence. The University of Leeds soon followed suit and had been granted a royal charter as an independent body by King Edward VII by 1904.

2000 to present

The Parkinson Building campanile, which features prominently in the university logo and publications after re-branding in 2006.

The Victoria University continued after the break-up of the group, with an amended constitution and renamed as the Victoria University of Manchester (though "Victoria" was usually omitted from its name except in formal usage) until September 2004.[18] On 1 October 2004 a merger with the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology was enacted to form The University of Manchester.[19]

In December 2004, financial pressures forced the university's governing body (the Council) to decide to close the Bretton campus. Activities at Bretton were moved to the main university campus in the summer of 2007 (allowing all Bretton-based students to complete their studies there). There was substantial opposition to the closure by the Bretton students. The university's other satellite site, Manygates in Wakefield, also closed, but Lifelong Learning and Healthcare programmes are continuing on a new site next to Wakefield College.[20]

In May 2006, the university began re-branding itself to consolidate its visual identity to promote one consistent image. A new logo was produced, based on that used during the centenary celebrations in 2004, to replace the combined use of the modified university arms and the Parkinson Building, which has been in use since 2004. The university arms will still be used in its original form for ceremonial purposes only. Four university colours were also specified as being green, red, black and beige.[4]

Leeds provides the local community with over 2,000 university student volunteers. With 7,726 staff currently employed, the university is the third largest employer in Leeds and contributes around £1.23bn a year to the local economy - students add a further £211m through rents and living costs.[2]

The university's educational partnerships have included providing formal accreditation of degree awards to Leeds College of Art and Leeds Trinity University College, although the latter now has the power to award its own degrees. The College of the Resurrection, an Anglican theological college in Mirfield with monastic roots, has, since its inception in 1904, been affiliated to the university, and ties remain close. The university is also a founding member of the Northern Consortium.

In August 2010, the university was one of the most targeted institutions by students entering the UCAS clearing process for 2010 admission, which matches undersubscribed courses to students who did not meet their firm or insurance choices. The university was one of nine Russell Group universities offering extremely limited places to "exceptional" students after the universities in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford declared they would not enter the process due to courses being full to capacity.[21]

On 12 October 2010, The Refectory of the Leeds University Union hosted a live edition of the Channel 4 News, with students, academics and economists expressing their reaction to the Browne Review, an independent review of Higher Education funding and student finance conducted by John Browne, Baron Browne of Madingley. University of Leeds Vice-Chancellor and Russell Group chairman Michael Arthur participated, giving an academic perspective alongside current vice-chancellor of Kingston University and former Pro Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Education at the University of Leeds, Sir Peter Scott. Midway through the broadcast a small group of protesters against the potential rise of student debt entered the building before being restrained and evacuated.[22][23]

In 2016, The University of Leeds became University of the Year 2017 in The Times and The Sunday Times' Good University Guide. The university has risen to 13th place overall, which reflects impressive results in student experience, high entry standards, services and facilities, and graduate prospects.[24]


The Roger Stevens Building

The university has 1,230 acres (498 ha) of land in total, with the main campus taking up 98 acres (40 ha).[25] The main campus is located 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Leeds city centre and compromises of a mixture of Gothic revival, art deco, brutalist and postmodern buildings, making it one of the most diverse university campuses in the country in terms of building styles and history. It is within walking distance of both the city centre and Headingley, a popular residential area for students wishing to live off campus. The main entrance to the campus for visitors by car is on Woodhouse Lane (A660), near the Parkinson Building. The former Woodhouse Cemetery is within the campus, now a landscaped area known as St George's Fields.[26]

Parkinson Building

The Parkinson Building is a grade II listed[27] art deco building and campanile named after the late Frank Parkinson, a major benefactor of the university who oversaw many new build projects from 1936 onwards. These commitments culminating in the official opening of The Parkinson Building (to which Parkinson donated £200,000) on 9 November 1951.[28] The tower of the building is a well-known landmark in the city of Leeds and is used in the university logo and as a university symbol.[28] The campanile is the highest point of the building and stands at 57 metres (187 ft) tall, making it the 17th tallest building in the city of Leeds.

Maurice Keyworth Building

The Leeds University Business School is housed in the renovated 19th-century buildings (known as the Maurice Keyworth Building), which used to belong to Leeds Grammar School on the Western side of the University of Leeds campus. The university have also constructed further modern buildings on the business school area of campus known as the Innovation Hub; costing £9.3 million. The building is a three-storey building of 4350 m2 (gross capacity), with the third floor accommodating the Innovation Hub.[29]

Great Hall

Baines Wing

The university's Great Hall building is one of the most prominent buildings on campus alongside the Parkinson Building and the numerous brutalist buildings which are Grade II listed. The Great Hall was built on a site of Beech Grove Hall Estate which was purchased in 1879 by the then Yorkshire College when joining the Victoria University. This was later demolished in 1884, to become the site of the Clothworkers buildings of the Baines Memorial Wing and the Great Hall. The buildings were designed by the renowned Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse R.A in red pressed brick and had dressings of Bolton Wood stone in a Gothic Collegiate style. The cost of the build was £22,000 and was raised partially by public appeal and served as the university library until the opening of the Brotherton Library. The Great Hall is now primarily used for examinations, meetings and graduation ceremonies.[30]

Post-war buildings

In June 2010, post-war buildings at the University of Leeds were recommended by English Heritage to become Grade II listed buildings. The modernist and brutalist buildings being recognised include the newly Grade II* listed Roger Stevens Building, whilst the EC Stoner Building, Computer Science Building, Mathematics/Earth Sciences Building, Senior Common Room, Garstang Building, Irene Manton Building, Communications and Edward Boyle Library and Henry Price Building have been recognised as Grade II listed buildings. These additions join the already listed 1877 Great Hall and Baines Wing, the School of Mineral Engineering, the Brotherton Library and the Parkinson Building which are Grade II listed.[31]

In addition to the main campus, there is also a satellite location at Wakefield. Until the 2006–07 academic year, some courses were taught at the Bretton Hall campus in West Bretton. The site closed in summer 2007 after which the courses taught there were relocated to the main campus in Leeds.

Leeds railway station is approximately 1 mile south of the main campus and there are numerous bus routes which serve it. The proposed Leeds Supertram would have run past the campus. The currently proposed Leeds Trolleybus (northern line) will run past the campus, linking it with the city centre, Headingley and Lawnswood. The Leeds Inner Ring Road also lies close to the campus.

The University of Leeds Conference Auditorium, located next to the Sports Hall, was once the original West Yorkshire Playhouse. It was refurbished in 2003 to become two lecture theatres; one for 320 and one for 550, making it the largest capacity facility on the university campus.[32]

The university's Muslim Prayer Room is located in the Conference Auditorium building and able to accommodate up to 300 people at any one time. The prayer room has undergone refurbishment after half a million pounds was allocated towards its development.

Modern expansion

The Ziff Building, which houses student services as of 2010
Street map of the main campus.

The university has engaged in a wave of modern expansion since 2008, and has invested more than £300 million in transforming its campus over the coming years, resulting in new state-of-the-art educational, research, residential and leisure facilities with a further £80 million being spent to improve current assets. The programme of this expansion constitutes one of the largest capital investment projects in British higher education.[33][34]

Academic profile

During the 2014/15 academic year, 31,030 students were enrolled.[3] There were around 560 different first-degree programmes and approximately 300 postgraduate degree programmes in 2009-10.[2]:6 Whilst maintaining its strengths in the traditional subjects (for example more students studying languages and physical sciences than anywhere else in the UK), Leeds has also developed expertise in more distinctive and rare specialist areas such as Colour Chemistry, Fire Science, Nanotechnology and Aviation Technology with Pilot studies.


The Edward Boyle Library, one of numerous Brutalist buildings linked by a series of interconnected skyways.

The university library is spread over five locations, and holds, in total, 2.78 million books, 26,000 print and electronic journals, 850 databases and 6,000 electronic books: making it one of the largest research libraries in the UK.[35] The main arts, social sciences and law library is the Brotherton Library, located in the Parkinson Building. The main science, engineering and student library is the Edward Boyle Library, located in the centre of the campus. Medicine, dentistry and healthcare students are served by the Health Sciences Library, located in the Worsley Building, and there is an extension of this library at St James's University Hospital. The Laidlaw Library on the main campus, serving the needs of first and second year undergraduates, opened in May 2015. It is named after Lord Laidlaw who gave £9,000,000 towards its construction.[36]

The university library also houses numerous special collections, ranging from the 15th century through to the 20th century.[37] Such collections include locks of hair from the influential Classical era composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven.[38] Further collections held include William Shakespeare's First Folio (Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories. & Tragedies) published in 1623 and valued at around £15 million.[39][40] The university also holds Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, first published 5 July 1687 and Oscar Wilde's manuscript of The Duchess of Padua from 1883.[41][42]


There are 9,000 personal computers available across the campus along with 150 Sun computers and servers, 8 high performance Sun servers and 256 supercomputers. There are 29 centrally managed computer clusters of varying sizes spread across the different sites, along with others managed by specific departments. Five of these clusters are available 24 hours a day.[43]


Many of the academic departments have specialist research facilities, for use by staff and students to support research from internationally significant collections in university libraries to state-of-the-art laboratories. These include those hosted at the Institute for Transport Studies, such as the University of Leeds Driving Simulator which is one of the most advanced worldwide in a research environment, allowing transport researchers to watch driver behaviour in accurately controlled laboratory conditions without the risks associated with a live, physical environment.[44]

With extensive links to the St James's University Hospital through the Leeds School of Medicine, the university operates a range of high-tech research laboratories for biomedical and physical sciences, food and engineering – including clean rooms for bionanotechnology and plant science greenhouses. The university is connected to Leeds General Infirmary and the institute of molecular medicine based at St James's University Hospital which aids integration of research and practice in the medical field.[44]

The university also operate research facilities in the aviation field, with the Airbus A320 flight simulator. The simulator was devised with an aim to promote the safety and efficiency of flight operations; where students use the simulator to develop their reactions to critical situations such as engine failure, display malfunctioning and freak weather.[44]

In addition to these facilities, many university departments conduct research in their respective fields.[45] There are also various research centres, including Leeds University Centre for African Studies.


The Leeds School of Medicine is one of the largest medical schools in Europe, with over 250 medical students being trained in each of the clinical years and over 1,000 teaching, research, technical and administrative staff.[46] The school has centres of excellence split down into Leeds Institute of Genetics, Health and Therapeutics (LIGHT), Leeds Institute of Health Sciences (LIHS), Leeds Institute of Medical Education (LIME) and The Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine (LIMM).[46] In 2010–11 university guides, the Leeds School of Medicine was ranked as the 11th best medical school in the country by The Guardian[47] and 14th by The Complete University Guide in association with The Independent.[48]

The medical school has close links with the NHS and works closely with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, comprising 6 hospitals and numerous primary care training practices in Yorkshire and the Humber.[49]

The Leeds General Infirmary and St James's University Hospital, Leeds are the main teaching hospitals in the West Yorkshire region with St James's University Hospital being one of the largest teaching hospitals in Europe.[50] The main university campus is adjacent to the Leeds General Infirmary and is directly connected via the Worsley Building of the Leeds Medical School.

Leeds General Infirmary is a centre in the UK for neurosurgery, and one of only 10 centres in the UK for Paediatric cardiology. The hospital features a rooftop landing pad for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service which was used on 20 September 2006 when the Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was treated at the hospital after suffering critical injuries as a result of a jet power car crash whilst filming at the airfield at ex-RAF Elvington near York.[51]


(2016, national)
(2016, world)
(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2017, national)
The Guardian[59]
(2017, national)
Times/Sunday Times[60]
(2017, national)
The Leeds University Business School ranked 48th in the Financial Times' World MBA rankings of 2008

Leeds is a member of the Russell Group, a group of research-orientated universities similar to the Association of American Universities in North America.

The University of Leeds was ranked in 8th[61] place in the UK in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, the best result in the Yorkshire and the Humber region and ranking behind only 3 universities not previously in the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and University of London systems (#4 – University of Manchester, No. 5 – University of Edinburgh and No. 7 – University of Nottingham).[61]

Between 2014-15, Leeds was ranked as the 10th most targeted British university by graduate employers, a two place decrease from 8th position in the previous 2014 rankings.[11]

The 2013–2014 the Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked Leeds as 139th in the world.[62] This was an improvement from 2012–2013 in which Leeds was ranked 142nd.[63]

In 2007, The Sunday Times released averages of all its tables over 10 years, ranking Leeds as 26th in the country from 1998 – 2007.[64]

The university has an excellent reputation for teaching and provides a wide range of courses for students. The Guardian University Guide 2008 rated it top in the country for Dentistry and Chemical Engineering, while a majority of its courses were ranked in the top ten or twenty.[65]

In its most recent ranking, the University of Leeds Business School's MBA programme was placed 15th in Europe by The Economist.[66] In the Financial Times' Global MBA ranking for 2008, the Leeds MBA was ranked 48th in the world.[67]

The university also won the biennially awarded Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2009 for services to engineering and technology. The honour being awarded to the university's Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) which for over forty years has been a world leader in transport teaching and research.[68]


From 2006 to present, UCAS published statistics show that the university has been consistently ranked 2nd in the United Kingdom for applications received per year, second only to the University of Manchester.[69] As of 2010, The Complete University Guide figures show the university currently receives 7.7 applications per place, with a student composition of 42% males to 58% females enrolled.[70]

Previous figures published include The Independent Guide to UK Universities provided by Push which stated that the university received 8 applications per place, with a male to female ratio of 41:59 respectively for 2009. The figures also highlight that the university generally admits undergraduate students with 280–360 UCAS Tariff points, the equivalent of a minimum of 3 A levels at grade B,B and C ranging to three straight A's or 2 A*'s and a C. The figures also showed that 16% of undergraduates gained First Class honours degree, 58% gaining a 2:1, 24% gaining a 2:2 and 3% gaining a 3rd.[71][72]

Government published statistics (Unistats of 2010) further breakdown the admissions of students by UCAS tariff points with 30% being admitted with 280 to 319 points, 25% with 320 to 359, 20% with 360 to 399, 15% with 400 to 439, 5% with 440 to 479 and a further 5% with 480 to 519. The statistics also show 85% of undergraduates are admitted after completion of A levels with 15% of graduates gaining a First Class honours degree, 55% gaining a 2:1, 30% gaining a 2:2 and 5% gaining a 3rd.[73]

Nobel Prize winners

A number of Nobel Laureates have worked or studied at the University.

Organisation and governance


The various schools, institutes and centres of the university are arranged into eight faculties, each with a dean, pro-deans and central functions:


The Court serves as a mechanism for the university's accountability to the wider community and to stakeholders, making sure that the university is well managed, properly governed and responsive to public and local interests and concerns. It is made up of mainly lay members.

The Council is the governing body of the university, consisting of mainly lay members along with representatives of staff and students. It is responsible for the proper management and financial solvency of the university, with major policy decisions and corporate strategy being subject to its approval.

The Senate is the principal academic authority of the university. It oversees academic management and sets strategy and priorities, including the curriculum and maintenance of standards.

International partners

The university holds a number of formal links with institutions from around the world to share teaching and research and facilitate staff and student exchanges. Numerous European universities participate in the Erasmus Programme which permits learning across the many institutions in this region. Students at Leeds may choose from twinned European universities, with each faculty having particular university affiliations.[74] The global partnerships spanning the continents include:[75]

The university has affiliations with the following international institutions:

In Africa, Tanta University, Egypt, University of Ghana, Ghana and Rhodes University, South Africa.

In Asia, Waseda University, Japan, Shanghai Theatre Academy and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, National University of Singapore, National Taiwan University, Taiwan, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Chinese University of Hong Kong and University of Hong Kong.

In Oceania, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, University of Western Australia, University of Sydney, University of Queensland, University of Newcastle, University of New South Wales, University of Adelaide, Queensland University of Technology, Monash University, Griffith University and Australian National University.

In Canada, University of Western Ontario, University of Waterloo, University of Victoria, University of Toronto, University of Calgary, University of Alberta, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Université du Québec à Montréal, Université de Montréal, Simon Fraser University, Queen's University, McMaster University, York University, McGill University, University of Manitoba and Carleton University.

In Latin America, University of Guadalajara, Mexico, Universidad de las Américas Puebla, Mexico, Universidad Católica Argentina, Argentina and Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Chile.

In the United States of America, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of South Carolina, University of North Texas, University of New Mexico, University of Nebraska, University of Mississippi, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Kansas, University of Illinois, University of California, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Pennsylvania State University, Old Dominion University, North Carolina State University, Juniata College, Georgia Institute of Technology, George Washington University, Drexel University, Colorado School of Mines and Arizona State University.


The Chancellor acts as a ceremonial figurehead and sits on the University Court. Leeds has had six chancellors since gaining its royal charter in 1904.

Name Duration
George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon 1904–1909
Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire 1909–1938
Edward Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire 1938–1950
Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood 1951–1965
Katharine, Duchess of Kent 1966–1999
Melvyn Bragg, the Lord Bragg 1999–


The Pro-Chancellor deputises for the Chancellor. The first, named in the 1904 charter, was businessman and chairman of the Council of the Yorkshire College,[76] Arthur Greenhow Lupton, of a prosperous and prominent family long connected with Leeds. His mother, Frances Lupton, was a pioneering educationalist and more than one of his relatives were Lord Mayor of Leeds.


The Vice-Chancellor of the university acts as the chief executive. The current Vice-Chancellor is Sir Alan Langlands, who was previously the Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England. A number of former Vice-Chancellors have had university buildings or halls of residences on the campus named after them. Examples of such dedications include The Edward Boyle Library, Bodington Hall (accommodation named in honour of the first Vice-Chancellor) and The Roger Stevens Building.

Name Duration
Sir Nathan Bodington 1904–1910
Sir Michael Ernest Sadler 1911–1923
Sir James Black Baillie 1924–1938
Bernard Mouat Jones 1938–1948
Charles Morris, Baron Morris of Grasmere 1948–1963
Sir Roger Stevens 1963–1970
Edward Boyle, Baron Boyle of Handsworth 1970–1981
William Walsh (Acting Vice-Chancellor) 1981–1983
Sir Edward W. Parkes 1983–1991
Sir Alan G. Wilson 1991–2004
Michael Arthur 2004–2013
Sir Alan Langlands 2013–present

Student life

Students Union

The Leeds University Union is a National Union of Students affiliated body, located on the main university campus. The union's main purpose is to support Leeds students through providing socialising opportunities, societies and group support, help and advisory services and to aid students wishing to volunteer, campaign and engage with the local communities.[77] The Leeds University Union is also a founding member of The Aldwych Group, which represents the students' unions of the members of the Russell Group.[78]

The University Refectory is the university's main canteen during the day, serving a range of hot and cold food whilst in the evenings it is converted into one of Leeds's largest music venues, having a 2,100 person capacity for live events. Many famous bands and musicians have played at the University Refectory throughout their careers. These include The Who who recorded Live at Leeds at the venue (originally in 1970, and then returned in June 2006 to recreate the original show), Bob Marley and the Wailers (as heard on the remastered 2004 Deluxe edition of Burnin' ), Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and more recently Muse (recorded and played on MTV), The Strokes, Bloc Party, Manic Street Preachers, KT Tunstall, Arctic Monkeys, The Coral and Paul Weller.[79]

Student Newspaper

Main article: The Gryphon

The Gryphon (formerly known as the "Leeds Student") is the weekly student newspaper, published free every Friday during term-time and distributed around the University of Leeds. The articles are written by students, and are largely about local and student based issues. It is one of the country's most active university newspapers and regularly wins national student media awards. Leeds Student was formed in 1970 by the merger of the Leeds University Union newspaper (Union News) and the then Leeds Polytechnic Students Union newspaper, but in November 2005 Leeds Metropolitan University students voted to disaffiliate from Leeds Student, citing under-representation. The name was changed to The Gryphon in 2014.

Leeds Student was the 2009 winner of The Guardian Student Newspaper of the Year award and short-listed for The Guardian Student Magazine of the Year. Former editors of the newspaper include Paul Vallely (The Independent) and Nicholas Witchell (BBC News).

Leeds Student Radio

Main article: Leeds Student Radio

Leeds University Union also operates the student radio station Leeds Student Radio, broadcasting live on their website from 9am-12am every day during term time. Leeds Student Radio is widely active within the university and often provides live DJs for union events, such as every Thursday in the Terrace and every Friday and Saturday in Old Bar. The station manager is a full-time paid position but it is not an elected position instead it is appointed through an interview process. Leeds Student Radio has a dedicated committee of around 15 members, and is one of the largest student stations in the country, boasting over 300 members.

LSTV (Leeds Student Television)

LSTV (Leeds Student Television) is a student television station run by students from the University of Leeds. LSTV produces weekly video content such as Entertainment programme 'On Campus', Sport programme 'Sideline' and News programme 'The Essential', which focuses on local and University news affecting Students at the University of Leeds and the local Leeds community. Their content is broadcast every Wednesday at 2pm around Leeds University Union and streams live online.


Leeds University Union (LUU) won the award for the Higher Education Students' Union of the Year at the NUS Awards 2009. In 2008, the union was voted runner up for the award of Higher Education Students' Union of the Year however did win first prize for Equality and Diversity.[80]

In 2008, the Leeds University Union became the first student union to achieve Gold Status in the Students' Union Evaluation Initiative (SUEI). A feat only matched by the University of Sheffield Union of Students in mid 2010.[81][82]


Weetwood Playing Fields

The university has a strong reputation for sporting excellence and teams compete regularly at the highest levels of the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league and is currently ranked 15th in the country, with aspirations to become a top ten institution out of the 157 universities and colleges competing.[83]

Each year the university supports over 20 elite athletes, providing a funding, support services and an interface with university academic departments, to ensure elite athletes have the infrastructure that allows them to compete at the highest level whilst studying. The university also offers sporting scholarships to elite athletes in conjunction with Npower whilst offering Olympic scholarships to prospects preparing to compete at future Olympic Games.[84]

The university competes annually in the Christie Cup, a competition dating back to 1886 which sees the former Victoria Universities of Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester participate in 28 different sports. After the rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge, the Christie's Championships is the oldest inter–university competition on the sporting calendar. The 125th edition was held at the University of Leeds in March 2011, the first competition to be staged at the university following the major investment in sporting provisions during 2010, the University of Leeds went on to win the competition on home soil.[85]

The university is a member of the MCC University Centres of Cricketing Excellence alongside the Cardiff, Cambridge, Durham, Loughborough and Oxford, where talented young cricketers can further their academic education whilst receiving an expert levels of cricket coaching and competitive match play.[86]

University of Leeds Sport offer a wide range of competitive and participation sports, which is used by the student and local population of Leeds who may use certain university facilities. Alongside fitness classes such as yoga and aerobics, the university offers over 36 different sporting clubs, including cricket, football, rugby union, hockey, basketball and badminton which have achieved league and cup wins in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league.[87][88]

Every year, a wide range of the university's sports teams participate in varsity matches against other local education institutions, like the Leeds Beckett University. In 2016, the University of Leeds rugby team ended the Leeds Beckett University rugby team's 12 year win streak, becoming the winner of the rugby varsity match of the year.[89]

Whilst the university operated performance and elite level sports, there is an intramural recreational sport programme which is one of the largest of any Higher Education institution in Britain. The Leeds University Union has over 60 sports clubs which range from Cycling to Sailing.

A £20 million spending plan was sanctioned with the aim to add facilities to the university's sporting provisions, including a 25m, 8 lane swimming pool and a 200 station health and fitness centre (known as The Edge) which opened in May 2010. The Gryphon Sports Centre opened in 2008 after a £2.5 million refurbishment, and caters for racquet sports including badminton and squash whilst the Weetwood Playing Fields are used for football, rugby union, rugby league and hockey.[90]

The university also offers a range of sporting opportunities for students to gain experience and develop their skills by volunteering within the local community. Volunteers can take up posts that include coaching, events organisation, stewarding and sports administration.[91]


Mary Ogilvie House (now demolished), student accommodation on the main campus.

The university provides accommodation in either catered or self-catering rooms, mostly reserved for first year undergraduate students but also for international students, postgraduates, staff and undergraduates who have been unable to find alternative accommodation.

Four of the halls (Charles Morris Hall, Henry Price Building, Ellerslie Hall and Lyddon Hall) are on the campus, while other halls and self-catering accommodation are located throughout the city. Bodington Hall is approximately four miles north-west of the campus, Devonshire Hall is situated around half a mile off the main campus,[92] and other accommodation includes Carr Mills, Clarence Dock, James Baillie Park, Leodis Residences, Lupton Residences, Montague Burton Residences, North Hill Court, Opal 3 Residences, Oxley Residences, Sentinel Towers, The Tannery, Shimmin, St Marks Residences and Canal Mills.[92]

In addition to providing university-owned accommodation, the university works with external accommodation providers such as Unite and Opal who provide private accommodation for both undergraduate students and postgraduates.

The university guarantees first year undergraduates, international undergraduates, undergraduate exchange students and international postgraduate students places in university-owned accommodation on condition that they meet the relevant application deadlines. In common with other institutions, it also runs schemes for students choosing Leeds as their firm or insurance choice through UCAS, with clearing students being supported once accepted.[93]


The university's Disability Team (based within its Equality Service) arranges and provides academic support services for students who are deaf or have hearing impairments, are blind or partially sighted, have a specific learning difficulty (e.g. dyslexia), have a physical impairment or mobility difficulty, have a long-term medical condition or have a mental health difficulty.

The university is one of the few universities in the UK to include an on-campus Transcription Centre, managed in conjunction with the RNIB. The Transcription Centre produces information in a range of accessible formats (including braille, large print, e-text and audio formats) for blind and partially sighted students and staff members – both at Leeds and at other universities, colleges and schools.

Notable people


Alumni from the arts include musicians Dan Smith, Kyle Simmons and Chris Wood of the band Bastille,[94] Mark Knopfler OBE of the band Dire Straits and Simon Rix, bassist of Leeds-based band the Kaiser Chiefs, singers Corinne Bailey Rae and Little Boots, and the band members of alt-J. Film director Shona Auerbach, impersonator Alistair McGowan, screenwriter Jeremy Dyson and poet Tony Harrison are also alumni of the university. Prominent authors Wole Soyinka and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o have also attended the university.

Alumni from the humanities and social sciences include author Sir Ken Robinson, author, academic and critic Robert Anthony Welch and the philosopher and author Paul Crowther.

Alumni from the media and related areas include CNN international business correspondent and presenter Richard Quest, political cartoonist Steve Bell, Deputy Director General of the BBC Mark Byford, world music broadcasters Andy Kershaw and Liz Kershaw, BBC News journalist Nicholas Witchell, foreign correspondent Mark Brayne, television presenter Jenni Falconer, Sky Sports News presenter Georgie Thompson, and IMDb founder Col Needham.

Alumni involved in politics include the former and current UK Cabinet ministers Jack Straw, Clare Short and Sayeeda Warsi. Other politicians include Ken Hind, Paul Truswell, Eric Illsley, Nambaryn Enkhbayar former President of Mongolia, and Secretary General of the Red Cross Bekele Geleta.

Piers Sellers, veteran of three space shuttle missions.

Former students in the field of science and technology include NASA astronaut Piers Sellers, Nobel Prize winner and President of the Royal Society George Porter, researcher into breast cancer and the development of cancer drug Tamoxifen V. Craig Jordan OBE and Edmund Happold, founder of Buro Happold.

Other notable alumni include:

Chris Pine, American Hollywood actor, studied as a year abroad student during his junior year (English) at the University of Leeds. He is most famous for portraying Captain James T. Kirk in the 2009 film Star Trek, in the role that was once made famous by William Shatner.

Honorary graduates

Since the university was granted its own Royal Charter in 1904, the university has awarded honorary degrees (honoris causa) to notable individuals as part of their yearly graduation ceremonies. The degree awarded itself can vary but is typically a doctorate or, less commonly, a master's degree, and may be awarded to someone who has no prior connection with the university.

Other history

The university campus is the final resting place of Pablo Fanque, Britain's first black circus proprietor and operator of England's premier circus for 30 years during the Victorian era.[95][96] Pablo Fanque, born William Darby, and his wife, Susannah Darby were buried in Woodhouse Cemetery, now St. George's Field, on the campus of the University of Leeds. The monument that Fanque erected in his wife's memory, and a smaller modest monument in his memory still stand. Fanque saw fame again in the 20th century, when John Lennon made mention of him in The Beatles song, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! on the album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. On 8 October 2010, the Leeds University Union, as part of the university's annual Light Night celebration, unveiled a commemorative blue plaque at Fanque's and Darby's gravesite.[97]

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