The University of Leeds is a Russell Group university in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, established in 1831. 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 became the University of Manchester) and University College Liverpool (which became the University of Liverpool). In 1904, a royal charter, created in 1903, was granted to the University of Leeds by King Edward VII.
The university is a founding member of the prestigious Russell Group – the leading research-intensive universities in the UK, the N8 Group for research collaboration, 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 Universities UK. The Leeds University Business School hold the ‘Triple Crown’ accreditations from AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS, placing them in the top 1% of business schools globally.
The university has 31,790 students, the seventh largest university in the UK (out of 166). From 2006 to present, the university has consistently been ranked within the top 5 (alongside Manchester University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Nottingham Universityand Edinburgh University) in the United Kingdom for the number of applications received. Leeds had a consolidated income of £667.2 million in 2016/17, of which £131.1 million was from research grants and contracts.
The university has 1,230 acres (498 ha) of land in total, with the main campus taking up 98 acres (40 ha). 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.
Leeds railway station is approximately 1 mile south of the main campus. 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 Roadalso 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.
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.
During the 2015/16 academic year, 31,790 students were enrolled. There were around 560 different first-degree programmes and approximately 300 postgraduate degree programmes in 2009-10. 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 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. 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.
The university library also houses numerous special collections, ranging from the 15th century through to the 20th century. Such collections include locks of hair from the influential Classical era composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Further collections held include William Shakespeare’s First Folio (Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories. & Tragedies) published in 1623 and valued at around £15 million.
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.
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.
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. 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.