50 years: A force for positive change

This year marks 50 years since Leeds Polytechnic was established. From these widely respected foundations, the modern-day Leeds Beckett University has grown and developed.

The polytechnic brought together a number of specialist colleges to meet an increasing demand for professional and technical education in the city. It was the largest Polytechnic in Yorkshire with 3,000 full-time students and 4,000 part-time students with around 450 full-time teaching colleagues.

Today, Leeds Beckett University contributes £624m to the economy and is a community of more than 24,000 students and 3,000 colleagues. Its mission is to ensure that its knowledge and resources are used to make a decisive and positive difference to people, communities and organisations.

It provides academic, professional, vocational and applied learning, which contributes to the social, economic and cultural life of the city and region. Every year, the University’s graduates include the next generation of teachers, nurses, social workers, lawyers and many other front-line workers whose expertise benefits individuals, communities and wider society.

More recently the university has helped to establish, and now leads, a group of large local organisations forming the Leeds Anchors Network. This group is working together to help grow the Leeds economy and to foster inclusive growth, so that everyone can benefit from increasing prosperity.

The University has taken its role as an Anchor institution seriously. 51% of its purchasing spend is invested with Leeds based businesses, and £20m of this spend is with businesses in the top 20% most deprived areas of Leeds*.

Throughout 2020, the university will celebrate this contribution through stories which illustrate the impact on people, communities, business and the difference it will make in shaping the future of Leeds.

*Centre for Local Economic Strategies report 2019

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Massive response to physical activity programme

Thousands of school children have been getting active as part of a health drive set up by Leeds Beckett University. The 30:30 Wristband Challenge was launched last October to help boost physical activity among the city’s primary school pupils. It has been so successful that the project has now been expanded to include secondary school pupils.

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Making the world a happier and healthier place

Chief Operating Officer of parkrun Global, sport & exercise science graduate Tom Williams has had a major impact on the health and happiness of individuals in communities around the world.

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Creating stories through drama and creative writing

Story Makers Company (SMC) is a unique social enterprise initiative which provides children with the opportunity to create stories through drama and creative writing. 

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Introducing: impact in our community

None of us could have foreseen, less than 100 days ago at the start of our 50 years celebrations, the unprecedented circumstances in which we now find ourselves living.


Meet our alumni Dee Caffari

Dee Caffari is the first woman to have single-handedly sailed non-stop around the world in both directions. 

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Improving dementia care

Professor Claire Surr's work evaluates the most effective approaches to dementia training and education for the health and social care workforce. 


Making PE more inclusive

Passionate about making PE classes more inclusive, Ruth Brazier’s research has played a part in helping to shape policy both locally and internationally. Below, Ruth outlines her recent PhD work, which has focused around improving access to PE in schools for girls from a range of ethnic backgrounds with Special Educational Needs and Disability.

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Championing women in business

A champion for women's development in business, Denise completed a postgraduate diploma at Leeds Beckett University in EU Law in 1980.

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The first Vice-Principal of Leeds Training College

The first female vice-principal of Leeds Training College, Winifred Mercier introduced a host of new equality reforms. 

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Tackling diversity in the classroom

The Promise Project, funded by an EU bid led by Dr Mhairi Beaton at the Carnegie School of Education, aims to improve the classroom experience of selected pupil groups across Europe.

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