Winter graduates help mark 150 years of DMU

Students celebrating at this week’s winter graduations are the first to do so on the 150th anniversary of De Montfort University, Leicester (DMU).

It was in 1870 that the Leicester School of Art was first founded, eventually becoming De Montfort University in 1992.

Saturday main pic

In that long history – which DMU is celebrating throughout the year – many thousands of students have become graduates, going on to have a spectacular range of careers across the world.

This week, those taking part in the university’s winter graduations will become the latest in this long lineage, enjoying a ceremony that has come a long way in production value from the first few efforts.

It wasn’t until 1969, when DMU became Leicester Polytechnic, that the university was able to award its own degrees. Before that, students had to travel to sit exams with external organisations. Exam results were published in local newspapers, and awards handed out at a simple annual prizegiving.


From the first Polytechnic ceremonies at De Montfort Hall to Lincoln Cathedral (when DMU had a Lincoln campus), Curve Theatre and now on campus at The Venue, DMU has always shown its pride of graduates’ efforts.

The ceremonies are the first major event to mark the 150th anniversary of DMU.

To mark the milestone, DMU will be putting on a number of events throughout the year. Many of those, with some still to be announced, are listed here, along with the some of the university’s history and student stories.

Central to the celebrations will be an exhibition called 150 Years, 150 Stories: Collecting the History of DMU, which is due to open at the university’s Heritage Centre this year.

Carpentry class 1920s

The exhibition will showcase some of the objects collected from the appeal alongside those in our main Archive and Art Collections. Each object or memory tells a story that contributes to the history and impact of the university.

The university is asking staff, students, alumni and anyone with memories, photos or any other objects and memorabilia of the university to get in touch and share their experience, to enrich the exhibition.

Curator Elizabeth Wheelband said: “As an institution originally founded for the people of Leicester, this ongoing story is profoundly shaped from our community of staff and alumni of generations past and present.

“Each object donated as a result of the appeal helps us pull together a well-rounded picture of life at the university. We’re excited to share our history through these objects and memories.”

How can I get involved?

Write to us: Email your memory to or write to Katharine Short, Archives, Kimberlin Library, De Montfort University Leicester LE1 9BH. We can also arrange to call you back if you prefer.

Send us your one-minute memory:

Or you can send us a one-minute video or audio clip of your oral history. Say who you are, what your relationship to DMU is, and give us your memory to

Posted on Tuesday 21st January 2020

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