The University was founded as Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland University College in 1921. The site for the University was donated by a local businessman, Thomas Fielding Johnson, in order to create a living memorial for all local people who made sacrifices during the First World War. This is reflected in the University's motto Ut vitam habeant – 'so that they may have life'.
Students were first admitted to the college in 1921, sitting examinations for external degrees awarded of the University of London. In 1927 the institution became University College, Leicester; 30 years later the college was granted its Royal Charter. This gave it the status of a University with the right to award its own degrees.
The University won the first ever series of University Challenge, in 1963.
Discover some of their finest research achievements, from genetic fingerprints to King Richard III.
The University's origins is as a living memorial to the fallen of World War One.
Their very compact campus contains a wide range of twentieth century architecture, though the oldest building dates from 1837. The main campus is a mile south of the city centre, adjacent to Victoria Park and Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College. The central building, now known as the Fielding Johnson Building, houses the University's administration offices and Leicester Law School. This was formerly the Leicestershire and Rutland Lunatic Asylum. Adjacent to the Fielding Johnson Building are the Astley Clarke Building and the Danielle Brown Sports Centre.
The skyline of Leicester University is punctuated by three distinctive, towering buildings from the 1960s: the Engineering Building, the Attenborough Tower and the Charles Wilson Building.
The University's Engineering Building was the first major building by important British architect Sir James Stirling. It comprises workshops and laboratories at ground level, and a tower containing offices and lecture theatres. It was completed in 1963 and is notable for the way in which its external form reflects its internal functions.
The 18-storey Attenborough Tower, housing several departments within the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, has one of the very few remaining paternosters in the UK. The Ken Edwards Building, built in 1995, lies adjacent to the Fielding Johnson Building.
Built in 1957, the Percy Gee Building is home to Leicester University's Students' Union. The David Wilson Library was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in December 2008, following an extensive refurbishment.
During the First World War, their buildings were used as a military hospital.
College House was the childhood home of David and Richard Attenborough.
The Adrian Building was where genetic fingerprinting was discovered by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys in 1984.
Facts and figures
The University of Leicester is a leading UK university committed to international excellence through the creation of world changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching. Leicester is consistently one of the most socially inclusive of the UK’s leading universities with a long-standing commitment to providing fairer and equal access to higher education.
Times Higher Education World University Rankings
Leicester is ranked 167th in the world and 25th in the UK. The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings lists the best global universities based on core missions including teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. In the first THE European Teaching Ranking, piloted this year, Leicester ranked in the 51-75 band. This puts Leicester in the 33-43 band for UK universities on teaching related metrics.
QS World University Rankings
First compiled in 2004, the QS World University Rankings currently ranks 1,000 of the world's finest universities. Leicester is placed 223rd in the 2019 QS World University Rankings, up an impressive 15 places from the previous year. This places us 31st in the list of UK universities included in the ranking.
Leicester is ranked in the top 25 universities in the Times Higher Education REF Research Power rankings. The Power ranking takes into account both the quality of research and the number of research-active staff who made REF returns. Research power is important because it gives a strong indication of a combination of world-class research, international impact, critical mass and sustainability.
75% of their research was judged to be internationally excellent with wide-ranging impacts on society, health culture,and the environment. That Leicester also entered a substantial proportion of academics (84%) to the REF demonstrates that our academics are continuing to develop and build upon our world-leading research.
Awards and accreditation
They have been ranked as the 35th most sustainable university in the world and 9th in the UK according to UI GreenMetric.
The University has won Times Higher Awards in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017 and 2018.
Leicester has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education on three occasions - the highest form of national recognition open to a UK academic or vocational institution.
In August 2015, HSBC announced for the second year running that the University of Leicester is the most affordable destination in Britain for both first and second-year students, according to their research.
In 2013 their Students' Union was named HE Students' Union of the Year in the NUS Awards.
Athena SWAN Award
University of Leicester is committed to promoting equality for women in academia. In 2006, they signed up to the Athena SWAN charter for women in science. In 2008 they were awarded with a bronze Athena SWAN award and this was renewed in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Health Sciences achieved a University first by being granted a Silver award in 2013.
Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network), is a UK programme that celebrates recognition and commitment to advancing women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine in higher education and research.
Stonewall Diversity Champion
They are proud to be recognised as a top 100 employer in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index, which showcases the most inclusive UK workplaces for lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff.
They have been a Stonewall Diversity Champion since 2013. Our commitment to working closely with their staff and student community to drive cultural change has seen the University ranked at number 72 in the 2019 list which exceeds their ambition to become a Top 100 Employer by 2020.
Coeliac UK audited the University's kitchens and confirmed that, as a result, it had decided to award its gluten-free accreditation to Leicester, making it the first UK university to receive this accolade.