Our history

The origins of our University lie in the desire of the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to commemorate the sacrifices of the First World War.


Originally founded as Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College, the University's doors opened to our first students in October 1921. The group, who numbered no more than eleven, took classes in English, Latin, French, Geography, and Botany within the walls of what is now the Fielding Johnson Building. The opening of the College was the result of four years of debate, organisation, and fundraising to achieve the goal of establishing a higher education institution in Leicester as a 'living memorial' to the First World War. These  pages tell the story of our founding and early history, and recognise the contribution of our first students, staff, and members of the local community to building what is now the University of Leicester.

Explore our history

Our beginnings

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How the idea of a University as a living memorial to the First World War was first formed.

Our founders

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The people who gave their time, energy and money to found our University.

Our first students

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Biographical information about our first group of students.

Our first academic staff

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Biographical information about our first staff members.

Our motto and coat of arms

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The story behind our University motto and heraldry.

Special Collections Online

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Discover digitised images from our University Archives via Special Collections Online.

Students of the 1920s

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Stories about our earliest students, from the archives and from those who knew them.

Students of the 1930s

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What we know about some of our 1930s students.

The origins of the Alumni Association

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How the University kept in touch with its former students.

Our first international students

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Found out which countries our first international students came from.

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