spending plan

University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is a major teaching and research university in Leeds, West Yorkshire; one of the largest in the United Kingdom with over 32,000 full-time students. It is a member of the Russell Group and is ranked in the top ten of UK universities for market share of research funding. Established in 1904, it is one of the six original civic 'red brick' universities, and in 2006 was ranked second in the UK for the number of applications received.


The University's history is linked to the development of Leeds as an international centre for the textile industry and clothing manufacture in the Victorian era. Its roots stretch back to the early nineteenth century and it was one of six civic universities in industrial cities given royal charters at the beginning of the twentieth century. Prior to this wave of expansion in higher education, only four universities - Oxford, Cambridge, London and Durham - were established in England.


In 1831, the Leeds School of Medicine was set up, serving the needs of the five medical institutions that had sprung up in the city. Then in 1874, the School was joined by the Yorkshire College of Science, intended to provide education for the children of middle-class industrialists and merchants. Financial support from local industry was crucial (there is a Clothworkers' Court at the University to this day).

The College of Science was modelled on Owens College, Manchester, established in 1851 as a non-sectarian alternative to Oxford and Cambridge, where religious tests were applied and those outside the Church of England were not allowed to receive degrees or were barred from entry outright. Owens College, like the earlier University College London, applied no such tests and was open to Protestant Dissenters, Catholics and Jews.

While religious tests for students at Oxford and Cambridge ceased in the 1850s, northern colleges continued to promote themselves as offering a distinct type of teaching. They took pride in the progressive and pragmatic nature of their scientific education; a field in which the ancient universities, with their focus on general and classical study, were felt to lag behind.

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. When classics, modern literature and history went on offer a few years later, the Yorkshire College of Science became the Yorkshire College. In 1887, the College merged with the School of Medicine.

Victoria University and royal charter

Leeds was given its first university the following year when the Yorkshire College joined the federal Victoria University, which had begun life when Owens College was awarded a royal charter in 1880. Leeds now found itself in an educational union with close social cousins from Manchester and Liverpool.

Unlike Owens College, the Leeds section 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 enrolled in significant numbers. The first female student to begin a course here was Lilias Annie Clark, who studied Modern Literature and Education.

The Victoria University was short-lived. Manchester and Liverpool were keen to establish independent universities, unhappy with the practical difficulties posed by maintaining a federal arrangement across broad distances, and spurred by the granting of a charter to the University of Birmingham in 1900. The University of Leeds was granted a royal charter as an independent body by King Edward VII in 1904.

Present day

Leeds is a leading research institution, and a member of the Russell Group of Universities. In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise – that of 2001 – the University was placed seventh nationally for the number of top scoring researchers and eighth for 'research power' out of 173 institutions taking part in the exercise. Just under 800 researchers at the University were given ratings of 5* or 5, meaning that 70 per cent of the University's researchers were working at the highest level on projects of international importance. The University received the highest 5* grade, denoting work at the forefront of international research, in six subjects: Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, English, Town and Country Planning, Food Science, and Italian.

In The Times Higher Education Supplement Rankings 2007, Leeds was placed 16th in the UK, 27th in Europe and 80th in the world.

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.

The University of Leeds Business School is regarded as one of the best in the UK. In its most recent ranking the school's MBA programme was placed at 15th in Europe by The Economist. In the Financial Times' Global MBA ranking for 2008, the Leeds MBA was ranked 48th in the World.

During the 2007–2008 academic year, 30,500 students were attached to 700 different first-degree programmes and 470 postgraduate degree programmes. 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 and Aviation Technology with Pilot studies.

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.

In May 2006, the University began re-branding itself to bring together its visual identity to produce one consistent look. A new logo was produced, based on that used during the centenary celebrations in 2004, to replace the combined use of the modified University Crest and the old Parkinson Building, which has been in use since 2004. The University Crest will still be used in its original form for ceremonial purposes only. Individual department and service logos are also being phased out. Four university colours were also specified, being green, red, black and beige.

The University is committed to working with the private sector and invests heavily in realising the commercial potential of its academic developments. Leeds attracts the highest level of industrial funding of any university in the UK.

The University’s educational partnerships have included providing formal accreditation of degree awards to Leeds College of Art and Design and Leeds Trinity & All Saints, although the latter is now establishing itself as a university in its own right. The University is also a founding member of the Northern Consortium.


The University has of land, with the main campus taking up .

The main campus is located north of the city centre of Leeds. It is within walking distance of both the city centre and Headingley, a popular residential area for students. The main entrance to the campus for visitors by car is on Woodhouse Lane (A660), near the Parkinson Building. The tower of this building is also a well-known landmark and is used in the University's logo.

In addition to the main campus, there is also a satellite location at Wakefield. Until the 2007–08 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.



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. 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. There is also a library located on the Wakefield campus.

The university librarians designed environmentally friendly bags after becoming concerned at the environmental effects of handing out so many plastic bags to students. The bags are imprinted with large white "Sshhh...!" on one side and the other side contains contact details for the library and the new University Logo.


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.

Students Union

The University's student union, located on campus, includes numerous shops, bars, nightclubs and other amenities, and is one of the largest student union operations in the UK.

In the NUS Awards 2008, Leeds University Union (LUU) was runner up for the award of HE Students' Union of the Year, and won first prize for Equality and Diversity.

Sport and physical activity

Facilities already available include

  • 5 x Multi-use Sports Halls
  • Fitness Suite
  • Strength and Conditioning Room
  • Climbing Wall
  • 10 x squash courts
  • Table Tennis Room
  • Dance Studio
  • 7 x floodlit 5-a-side football courts
  • 6 x floodlit tennis courts
  • 2 x floodlit sand dressed hockey pitches
  • 3G floodlit rubber crumb synthetic pitch
  • 32 x grass pitches (for rugby, football, lacrosse, American Football, Ultimate Frisbee)
  • 5 x cricket squares
  • 2 x Outdoor Centres (in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales)

A £20 million spending plan is currently in operation to add facilities, including a 25 m, 8 lane swimming pool and a 200 station health and fitness centre which will open in September 2009.

An Active Lifestyles programme has a wide variety of courses and classes, including Pilates, Yoga, Salsa aerobics, give-it-a-go climbing and contemporary dance. There is also an annual Healthy Week which offers an opportunity to try new activities.

There is an intramural recreational sport programme which is one of the largest of any Higher Education institution in Britain. The University Union has over 60 sports clubs which range from Cycling to Sub Aqua and Basketball to Sailing. Teams compete regularly at the highest levels in the BUSA leagues and the University is currently ranked 15th in the country.

The University supports over 40 world class athletes each year in their academic and sporting lives through the Performance Sport programme. Current scholars on the programme include international squash player Sanjeev Ghosal and Olympic Triathlon prospect Alistair Brownlee. All elite athletes who are studying at the University are eligible to apply for a sports scholarship.

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.


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 of Leeds is also 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 accessibile 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.

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 accommodate over 800 individuals at any given time, making it the largest capacity facility on the University campus. 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 recent refurbishment after half a million pounds was allocated towards its development with joint efforts between Leeds University Union's Islamic Society, John Schless (former LUU Societies Officer) and the Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur.


There is accommodation provided in either catered or self-catered 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 are located on campus, while the rest are located throughout the city.Self Catered




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

  • Arts
  • Biological Sciences
  • Business
  • Education, Social Sciences and Law
  • Engineering
  • Earth and Environment
  • Mathematics and Physical Sciences
  • Medicine and Health
  • Performance, Visual Arts and Communications


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, constituting 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.


The Chancellor of the University acts as a ceremonial figurehead and sits on the University Court. The current Chancellor is Melvyn Bragg, Lord Bragg of Wigton.

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


The Vice-Chancellor of the University acts as the chief executive. The current Vice-Chancellor is Professor Michael Arthur, who was formerly Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences at the University of Southampton. A number of former Vice-Chancellors have had buildings on the campus named after them.

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

Notable people


External links

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