Prior to 1992 the University was known as Leicester Polytechnic. It had been created in 1969 through the amalgamation of Leicester College of Technology and Leicester College of Art. The Polytechnic was established as a corporation in 1989.
The plan was to make DMU a multi-campus Collegiate University of the entire East Midlands and as such the University swiftly acquired other campuses based in Bedford, Luton, Lincoln, the Scraptoft College of Education in east Leicester, Caythorpe and Milton Keynes. The Milton Keynes campus had actually been built by the university in 1991 and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1992, prior to the official foundation of DMU as a New University. Departments at Milton Keynes included computing, built environment and business. DMU conducted a series of expansionist mergers with the Bedford College of Higher Education and with the Lincoln and Caythorpe Colleges in 1994 and then with the Charles Frears College of Nursing and Midwifery, based in Leicester, in 1995.
In the mid-1990s, DMU attracted students using a memorable TV and cinema advert that reputedly cost £500k featuring a killer whale chasing some sea lions on a beach. It was taken from a gripping scene filmed in Patagonia in the David Attenborough series, the Trials of Life. The tag line Reserve your Seat of Learning Here was read by Angus Deayton, implying that students should avoid letting life "chew them up" and improve their job prospects with a degree.
Today, De Montfort University has two campuses, Leicester City Campus and Charles Frears. The Scraptoft campus (home of the teaching courses) closed in 2003. The University has special arrangements with more than 80 universities and colleges in over 25 countries. It has approximately 20,500 students, 3,240 staff, and an annual turnover in the region of £132.5 million.
In 2001 the Board of Governors adopted a new strategy to do 'fewer things in fewer places' and reduce the number of outlying campuses. DMU consolidated around its Leicester campus, with its satellite sites closed, or transferred to other institutions.
Currently De Montfort University has five faculties and one Institute:
The University has one of the largest numbers of Teacher Fellows of any UK University, and was awarded Centre of Excellence status for its performance practice teaching and student support. This award has enabled further investment in research as well as the construction of a new building with state of the art performance studios, rehearsal areas and the latest technology.
In 2005/6, DMU was highly rated by both external examiners and the Quality Agency Audit (QAA) for its academic planning, staff training and the support given to students.
The University also runs its own award schemes to promote and disseminate good teaching practice, an approach which was highly praised by the QAA. Its Curriculum Innovation Awards recognise the contributions of teams to programme design and delivery while the Vice Chancellors’ Distinguished Teaching Awards are voted for by students.
The University has responded to changing patterns of student study by providing facilities to assist with their preferred learning times and styles, this includes flexible study options through the University’s 24-hour library services and the development of distance learning and E-learning systems.
The Faculty of Art and Design boasts the only University courses in the world to specialise in lingerie, underwear, body-wear, swimwear and performance sportswear, these courses beginning immediately after the Second World War. The Faculty also offers the only UK University courses in Footwear Design, courses in Product Design and courses in Fine Art and Architecture which have been researched, studied and taught in Leicester continuously for over 100 years.
The Faculty of Technology offers courses across a range of animation, electronic games, information technology, robotics, telecommunications and video production.
The Faculty of Health and Life Sciences consists of four interconnected schools: Allied Health Sciences, Applied Social Sciences, Nursing and Midwifery and the Leicester School of Pharmacy. These interrelate so as to allow collaboration across subject boundaries in teaching, consultancy and research. Between them, the Schools cover Biomedical Science; Child, Adolescent and Family Therapy; Community Studies; Criminal Justice; Counselling and Psychotherapy; Criminology; Environmental Awareness; Management; Protection and Technology; Forensic Science; Health and Community Studies; Midwifery; Nursing; Pharmacy; Psychology; and Speech and Language Therapy.
The Faculty of Business and Law incorporates the Leicester Business School and the De Montfort Law School. The Business School is one of the top schools in the country according to the results of the 2007 National Student Survey. The School is an accredited provider of professional courses approved by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), and the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD). Construction of a new £35million building to hold both Schools is underway and is scheduled for completion in 2009 (www.dmu.ac.uk).
The Faculty of Humanities offers English, History and Politics degree courses and courses in Arts Management, Creative Writing, Dance, Drama, Education, Film, Globalisation, International Relations, Media and Music (including Technology and Innovation).
The Institute Of Creative Technologies (IOCT), which opened at DMU in 2006, undertakes interdisciplinary research in emerging areas at the intersection of Science, the Digital Arts and the Humanities.
Research underpins every area of the University, its projects cross many disciplines, with local, national and international impact. Research groups are advancing knowledge, assisting businesses and ensuring its students benefit from a learning environment that is enriched by innovation and research excellence.
On 20 April 2006, The Times Higher Education Supplement reported that first year pharmacy students in 2004 who underperformed in examinations were allowed to progress to the next year of the MPharm course at De Montfort University School of Pharmacy avoiding resits, despite concern from lecturers and external examiners. This followed from the release of documents of meeting minutes, in a ruling under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the University "has been caught lowering a pass mark to 26 per cent to prevent widespread failure of students, ... the proof that up to 14 per cent was arbitrarily added to the scores of trainee pharmacists to save the university's reputation has renewed concerns over the dumbing down of degrees in the move toward mass higher education.
Subsequently, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain put the pharmacy course on a probationary status and required the University to implement a five-point action plan. The School remains one of only 23 in the UK that the Society accredits for offering recognised degrees in pharmacy.