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History of Leeds University

A brief history of Leeds University

Leeds is blessed with one of the most successful and popular universities in the country – in part, of course, because of how great the city is to live in – but it also has a fascinating past, which we’re going to explore in this brief history of Leeds University…

The early history of Leeds University

When we look at the early history of the university, we have to go back to its roots which were established with the opening of the Leeds School of Medicine in 1831, and then the Yorkshire College of Science later on, in 1874.

Both schools were opened to service different needs – allowing local medical students to live closer to home, and responding to the overseas threat to the textiles trade – and it was these commercial and ethical drives that encouraged the founding fathers to set up colleges open to all faiths and backgrounds.

As time moved on and a wider range of subjects from the arts and humanities were made available to students, the name of the College of Science was changed to Yorkshire College, which paved the way for a merge with the Leeds School of Medicine in 1884.

Victoria University

As it became clearer that breaking the exclusivity of the Oxbridge universities would be beneficial to a wider range of students, the decision to create a federal university located in three separate cities (Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool) was taken in 1887. Victoria University, as it was named, flourished and in 1903-1904 Leeds decided to go it alone and create its own university – a move that was given the royal seal of approval by way of a royal charter by King Edward VII.

Establishing Leeds University

As a founding member of the Russell Group (established in 1994), the modern history of Leeds University has been strongly associated with research. This group of 24 of the most prestigious universities in the country work together to push UK research in all fields, attract the best staff and students, and lobby government where required to achieve its aims.

This has helped to establish Leeds University as one of the most desirable and well respected educational institutions in the UK, where it frequently ranks in the top ten overall and the top three for student employability.

We’re proud to have such an amazing educational facility on our doorstep at Trafalgar Street car park, and hope that the history of Leeds University continues to grow over coming years – and perhaps even centuries!