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Guided by our faith foundation

Leeds Trinity University was founded as two Catholic teacher training colleges in September 1966; Trinity College for women and All Saints College for men, with an intake of 300 students.

Guided by our Catholic identity and faith foundation, our mission then – and now – was to focus on opportunities for young people from poorer families; to provide an exceptional educational experience in a diverse community; and to actively support social justice.

Our Catholic values – promoting the principles of dignity, respect, social justice, equality and inclusion – contribute to the inclusive, welcoming and successful community at Leeds Trinity today. We pride ourselves on knowing our students by their name, not a number. And we believe that every individual, regardless of their background or route into higher education, should be supported to achieve their true potential and reach the highest standards possible.

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The early days

In 1966, Trinity College and All Saints College were originally governed separately, with the Sisters of the Cross and Passion taking responsibility for the women’s college and the Catholic Education Council managing the men’s college.

Sister Augusta Maria was appointed Principal of Trinity College and Andrew Kean as Principal of All Saints College, but the pair worked closely together and soon they had divided overall management responsibility between them. Kean took responsibility for the curriculum, academic staff and external relations, whilst Sister Augusta looked after pastoral care, finance, the campus, social affairs and non-academic staff. You’ll see their names around our campus today – the Sister Augusta Maria C.P. Auditorium and the Andrew Kean Learning Centre.

With a huge demand for teachers during the 1960s, the colleges wanted to offer a different approach to other teacher training colleges – so they provided students with much more experience in schools, a model that is still used today.

Campus in the first decades, black and white photograph.

Pioneering work placements

By the mid-1970s, the colleges had expanded their portfolio of subjects and offered 16 academic courses within six departments.

They pioneered the inclusion of professional work placements with every degree; following the model of teacher training placements and incorporated professional work placements into Communication Arts, English, History, Modern Languages and other subjects.

Pioneering work placements - newspaper cuttings.

Trinity and All Saints Colleges merge

In 1980, the two colleges merged to become Trinity and All Saints College (TASC), with Dr Mary Hallaway appointed as Principal. You’ll see her name on our campus today; in the Mary Hallaway Lecture Theatre in the Main Building and as an Honorary Fellow of the University.

By the mid-1980s, the Sisters of the Cross and Passion were less involved with the College. Recruitment focused on all potential students, reinforcing that ‘entry is not restricted to Catholic applicants and we wish our College community to reflect the multi-cultural and multi-faith nature of our society’. This remains true today.

Trinity and all saints merge.

Expanding the College

Dr Gerard Turnbull took charge in 1989 and by the time he’d retired in 1998, there were more than 2,000 undergraduates and 250 postgraduate students at Trinity and All Saints College. He’d introduced a wider range of courses and made improvements and extensions to the campus, including Kirkstall Halls which opened as part-catered, on-campus accommodation in 1993.

The College was the market leader in Communications and Media, and in 1994, it launched the Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies, which is still based at the University today.

After Dr Turnbull had retired, Dr Mike Coughlin – now Honorary Fellow of the University – was appointed as Principal. He made it his mission to encourage the College to pursue taught-degree awarding powers (TDAP) and become a University College.

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Achieving University College status

In the 2000s, Trinity and All Saints College reached 3,000 students and became one of the first Colleges to offer courses in Forensic Psychology and Sports Journalism. The Centre for Journalism was established in 2001 and the Andrew Kean Learning Centre was opened in 2003.

In 2005, changes to the Students’ Union were undertaken; it began to operate with a Student Council and Executive Committee, and more positions were elected such as the Mature Students’ and LGBT Officers.

From 2006, under the leadership of Professor Freda Bridge, the College received more investment; a new £2.2million sports centre was opened in 2007; and in 2009, Trinity and All Saints College achieved taught-degree awarding powers, becoming Leeds Trinity University College.

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From University College to University

After becoming a University College in 2009, the ambition for Leeds Trinity was to achieve full university status. In 2011, the Government announced that institutions with a minimum 1,000 students (previously 4,000) could apply and in 2012, Leeds Trinity University College became Leeds Trinity University.

Professor Margaret House OBE took on the role of Vice-Chancellor in July 2012 and Leeds-born broadcaster Gabby Logan was announced as Chancellor in 2013. There was more investment into the University; All Saints’ Court Halls of Residence in 2010 and Fountains Court in 2016, a new 3G Astroturf pitch, new Students’ Union offices; the launch of Leeds Children’s University and new international partnerships around the world. There was greater encouragement of research, more Professors were appointed, and research funding multiplied.

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Celebrating 50 years

In 2016, the institution celebrated its 50-year anniversary.

Celebrations took place throughout the academic year including events at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Cathedral, a Civic Reception in Leeds and a Gala Dinner. The University launched Trinity Talks, a series of public lectures, and the Inspiring Futures Programme – a fund to financially support students to study abroad or compete in elite sport, and graduates to develop their own business.

The University also expanded its portfolio, offering Degree Apprenticeships, Higher Apprenticeships and Foundation Year courses, and it achieved Silver in the Teaching Excellence Framework in 2017.

The Leeds Trinity Business Network was thriving – and continues to do so – with more than 8,000 business members, the University launched the Leeds Trinity Education Network, and more students than ever before were choosing to complete their professional placements and volunteering programmes abroad.

In 2018, after five years as the University’s Chancellor, Gabby Logan stepped down, and actor and playwright Deborah McAndrew was installed as Chancellor in June 2018.

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Looking to the future

University continues to focus on developing highly employable graduates, teaching and academic excellence, and the next generation of researchers – as it strives to achieve Research Degree Awarding Powers (RDAP). 

In November 2020, Professor Charles Egbu was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Leeds Trinity, taking over from Professor Margaret House OBE who stepped down after seven years and significant growth for the University. As an institution, we remain committed to providing an open and welcoming environment, underpinned by the values of our Catholic foundation.

We are proud to make a difference. Here’s to the exciting times ahead…

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