Proud of a distinctive history 

DMU may always be looking to the future but that doesn't mean we neglect our past. We are proud of our heritage and the quality buildings that have accommodated us. 


A vibrant history

De Montfort University (DMU) is a dynamic institution with a long and vibrant history of improving people’s lives through education.

Originally founded as the Leicester School of Art in 1870, the university has evolved through many incarnations including the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology and Leicester Polytechnic.

Leicester Polytechnic officially became De Montfort University on 26 June 1992. The name was chosen to reflect the University’s long association with Leicester by commemorating the celebrated Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, a crucial figure in medieval history who established the first parliament in 1265.

Our reputation for quality and distinctiveness in teaching and research is a direct result of our heritage. Many modern DMU courses have their roots in the late 19th century and early 20th century, when the School of Art and Leicester Technical School began training apprentices for local industries such as boot and shoe manufacture, furniture making and design, hosiery and textiles manufacture, engineering, printing and book binding.

Art, pharmacy, corsetry, footwear, physical sciences and architecture were taught at the Schools and are still in evidence at DMU today, either as courses in their own right, or as integral components of more modern courses.

A commitment to ensuring teaching kept pace with the changing needs of businesses meant that computing courses were introduced in the 1960s; DMU’s computing degrees are still highly valued by industry.

The university has grown and evolved over the years, but it is still dedicated to providing inspirational teaching to students and it has a significant impact on the world around it. 

DMU timeline: 1869 - 1935

1869 - A meeting is held to ask Leicester citizens to support the foundation of a School of Art

1870 - Leicester School of Art founded with classes in a disused warehouse in Pocklington’s Walk

1881 - Ernest Gimson, Arts and Crafts architect and designer, enrols on Architecture course

1882 - Leicester Technical School starts classes in the Ellis Wing of Wyggeston Boys School with the Reverend James Went as headmaster

1897 - The School of Art and Technical School are merged as the Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School based in what is now the Hawthorn Building

1909 - School of Pharmacy founded

1929 - Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School becomes Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology

1935 - Finding of arches of the medieval Church of the Annunciation under the Hawthorn Building

DMU timeline: 1939 onwards

1939-45 - Colleges support war work by, for example, painting murals in air raid shelters and manufacturing hospital equipment

1946 - The university buys three houses which serve as the first student accommodation

1947 - School of Corsetry founded – now Contour Fashion

1958 - Computer Science is taught for the first time

1966 - Fletcher Building opened by the Queen Mother

1967 - Pink Floyd play the Students’ Union

1969 - City of Leicester Polytechnic formed when the Colleges of Art and Technology merge

1976 - The Polytechnic merges with the City of Leicester College of Education

1992 - Polytechnic awarded University status and adopts the name De Montfort University. DMU's Milton Keynes Campus opens

1993 - Award winning Queen’s Building is opened by Queen Elizabeth II

1994 - DMU Lincoln and DMU Bedford founded on merger with Lincolnshire College of Art and Design, Lincolnshire College of Agriculture and Horticulture, and Bedford College of Higher Education

1995 - DMU merges with Charles Frears School of Nursing and Midwifery

2001 - Lincoln Campus is transferred to the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside to enable the creation of the University of Lincoln

2003 - The Campus Centre opens. DMU withdraws from the Milton Keynes Campus

2006 - Bedford Campus merges with the University of Luton to become the University of Bedfordshire

2010 - Hugh Aston building opened

2011 - Mile2 project launched

2012 - Queen Elizabeth II visits at the start of the Diamond Jubilee Tour

2013 - #DMUglobal is launched offering all DMU students the opportunity to benefit from an international experience during their studies

2016 - Square Mile India sends its first volunteer to the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, Gujarat

2017 - DMU receives Gold, the highest ranking possible, in the Teaching Excellence Framework, the only UK Government endorsed measure of teaching quality in higher education

2018 - DMU is named a United Nations Global Hub for Sustainable Development Goal 16, which promotes peace, justice and strong institutions

2018 - DMU is named the first ever University of the Year for Social Inclusion by The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019. 

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At DMU there is always something to do or see, check out our events for yourself.

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DMU is a dynamic university, read about what we have been up to in our latest news section.

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Mission and vision

Read about our mission and vision and how these create a supportive and exciting learning environment.