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The story behind our University Arms



The University Arms were awarded to the university on 11 January 1994. These Arms are composed of a number of symbols, all of which are relevant to our University:

  • The open books at the top of the shield symbolise the source of knowledge and they are ‘charged’ with the white rose of York, which signifies our geographical location.
  • The fountain is a source of water, and is symbolic of spiritual life, salvation, immortality, inspiration and knowledge, all of which are appropriate to a learning community.
  • The shield is divided ‘per chevron’ a word which is taken from the French for rafter, and which symbolises a roof, or place of protection – and looking not unlike a Yorkshire hill.
  • The crowning element of the design is the crest, which shows a Barn owl, the most widely distributed of all owls, found throughout the world, and a representation of wisdom.
  • The owl is shown emerging from a coronet and between two sprigs of laurel, symbolic of the laurel wreaths that were a sign of honour awarded to victors in Greek and Roman times and are still worn by students after their graduation ceremony in Italy.
  • Owls wearing coronets are also the Supporters of the Arms of Leeds City Council.
  • Either side of the shield are graduates of the university with their degree certificates
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