Leeds College of Art becomes Leeds Arts University

Leeds College of Art gets University status. Pictured Vice-Chancellor Prof Simone Wonnacott.
 Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leeds College of Art gets University status. Pictured Vice-Chancellor Prof Simone Wonnacott. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

It is already home to three major universities, including a member of the prestigious Russell Group.

Today, Leeds is welcoming its fourth institution into the fold, fast cementing its status as a leading education centre.

Leeds College of Art gets University status. Pictured student El Riordan.  Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Leeds College of Art gets University status. Pictured student El Riordan. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Leeds College of Art has been granted full university status by the Privy Council and will now be known as Leeds Arts University.

Having undergone a rigorous appraisal process, it will be the only specialist arts university in the North of England.

Professor Simone Wonnacott, vice-chancellor at the new university, said: “This announcement is a significant landmark in our history, and one which recognises our robust governance structure, academic and teaching standards and the facilities supporting the delivery of our higher education courses. We will continue to strive to put ourselves at the forefront of arts education not just in the UK, but worldwide.”

Founded in 1846 as the Leeds Government School of Art and Design, the new university has contributed significantly to the development of art education in Britain and across the world.

Leeds College of Art gets University status. Pictured Leeds Arts Union president Joe Cox.
 
Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Leeds College of Art gets University status. Pictured Leeds Arts Union president Joe Cox. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The institution is the highest ranked arts university in the UK for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2017, along with being the highest ranked university in Yorkshire.

Its students have gone on to work for international brands including Calvin Klein, Vivienne Westwood and Lululemon Athletica. And closer to home, the university’s alumni are supporting the Leeds bid for European Capital of Culture 2023.

Chris Clements, chair of the board of governors at Leeds Arts University, said: “This announcement is a significant step in the current development of Leeds Arts University, which will also see the opening of a new state-of-the-art building expansion, and the introduction of five new creative degree courses, including BA (Hons) Filmmaking and BA (Hons) Fashion Design, all launching in 2018, along with a new MA in Curation Practices starting in September 2017.”

History

Since the college opened in 1846 as the Leeds Government School of Art and Design, its various studios have witnessed the early careers of some of Britain’s best-loved artists.

During the 1920s it was where Yorkshire sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore came to study. Before them, the college had honed the artistic talents of painter Jacob Kramer and pioneer of modernism John Cecil Stephenson, while afterwards came the likes of industrial artist Edna Lumb and, for a year in the early 1980s, Damien Hirst.