Celebrating 50 years at Leeds Trinity University

Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret A House discusses the growth of Leeds Trinity, and the University’s plans for the next 50 years

Fifty years ago – at about the time England won the Football World Cup in 1966 – building work for two teacher training colleges in Horsforth, six miles north of Leeds, was completed. Opening its doors to 300 students, Trinity College for women and All Saints College for men educated the next generation of teachers; a profession in high demand during the 1960s thanks to the post-war baby boom. Guided by our Catholic identity and faith foundation, our mission then – and now – was to provide an exceptional educational experience in a diverse community.

Over the next 50 years, partnerships with schools endured and developed, recognising the successful teacher education provided by the College. The institution evolved, merging as Trinity and All Saints College in 1980 and gaining taught degree awarding powers to become Leeds Trinity University College in 2009. In 2012, the institution was awarded full University status to become Leeds Trinity University. Throughout this evolution, the early vision of producing high quality, employable graduates, has been sustained. 

Teacher training still accounts for around 20% of our activity, the success of which is recognised by the scale and quality of our partnerships with 450 Primary Schools and 60 Secondary Schools in the local area. We’ve also expanded our academic portfolio – now offering 88 degree courses across undergraduate, postgraduate and foundation programmes – and the number of students has increased to 3,500.

We are proud of our reputation for teaching quality and excellence, which has been developed thanks to a commitment to delivering outstanding teaching, led by research, scholarship and practice. This is evidenced by us being ranked in the top 15% of all UK universities for teaching quality in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016. And, a few weeks ago, Times Higher Education undertook a trial run of what they considered would be the likely metrics in the second phase of the Teaching Excellence Framework – and I’m pleased that Leeds Trinity University was ranked 30th out of 120 universities.

Offering a truly personalised university experience is at the heart of our ethos – and it has enabled our students to flourish over the past 50 years. We believe we were one of the first, if not the first, universities in the UK to offer professional work placements with every degree – and it’s something we’re very proud of. As a result of this, 95% of our 2015 graduates were employed or in further study within six months of graduating. Of these, 70% are in graduate level, professional jobs.

In the last 50 years, we have accumulated over 24,000 alumni, and more than 4,000 staff have contributed to our long-term development and ongoing success. In our 50th year, we want to recognise the hard work of our students, staff, alumni and partners that have played such as important part in our journey.

A year of celebration

Over the 2016-17 academic year, Leeds Trinity University will host a year-long calendar of events to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. Characteristic of our community spirit and Catholic ethos, we hope as many people as possible can join us in our celebrations. 

Last month, we hosted a formal 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner with more than 120 staff, partners and guests, including the Deputy Lieutenant for West Yorkshire, esteemed Councillors and our Board of Governors.

Next month, we’ll welcome alumni from our 1960s cohort and former staff for an Afternoon Tea and an evening celebration, before hosting a reception at the House of Commons and Mass at Westminster Cathedral in October. A host of high profile speakers, including The Right Honourable Baroness Warsi and TV presenter Shelagh Fogarty, will deliver a series of Trinity Talks lectures, and we’ll be publishing a book outlining the transformation of the University, including interviews with staff and students, past and present.

The next 50 years

50 years in higher education is a long time, and our transformation from two teacher training colleges to an acclaimed University has been remarkable. 

Our achievements to date have put us in our strongest ever position as we enter our next 50 years – and I am confident we have the right colleagues, supporters and partners to allow us to reach our ambitions and succeed. Guided by our core purpose as a Catholic faith foundation university, we remain committed to educating the next generation so they can make positive, lifetime contributions to society as a whole.

We’re becoming increasingly renowned for research excellence, particularly in Humanities, Media and Communications, and Social Policy, where we scored highly on impact and outputs in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and we’re growing our Postgraduate research community from just one doctoral student in 2013 to more than 50 now. These achievements put us on course to deliver one of our key strategic priorities – achieving Research Degree Awarding Powers within the next five years.

We have begun work on the development of Degree Apprenticeships in partnership with businesses, and have validated a Work Based Learning Framework allowing individuals to gain up to a Master’s degree qualification, based on knowledge and skills obtained in the workplace. 

We are also committed to being a widening participation university – attracting students from less advantaged areas – and we have a number of schemes in place to support this ethos. As part of our 50th Anniversary year, our Chancellor Gabby Logan also launched our new Inspiring Futures Programme – a fund to financially support students who want to start their own business, study abroad, or those who compete in sport alongside their studies.

Leeds Trinity has always been characterised by its sense of community, where students are a name, not a number, and we are proud to foster a sense of lifelong belonging; students and staff are part of our community from the moment they step through the doors, to long after they leave. I am extremely proud of everything achieved at Leeds Trinity since 1966 – and I am honoured to be leading the University through our 50th Anniversary and beyond.

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