University of Leicester kicks off Centenary celebrations

The University of Leicester kicked off the celebrations marking its Centenary year today (Wednesday).

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor, formally launched a packed schedule of events to mark 100 years since the University’s formation, in the presence of students, alumni, staff and guests from the institution’s first Century.

He said: “Today we reflect upon our past and the sacrifices made by the many to bring us where we are today.

“I am immensely proud to be announcing the launch of our Centenary celebrations – and at the same time humbled by the significance of this moment.

“We are the custodians of a legacy, and to realise the vision of our motto Ut vitam habeant, ‘so that they may have life’. In doing this, we pledge to build upon the success of our first Century as we look ahead to the next 100 years.”

The University was founded as Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland University College in 1921 as a living memorial for all local people who made sacrifices during the First World War.

Centenary events from September 2021, running into 2022, will recognise the people and events which have shaped the first 100 years of the University of Leicester – celebrating the students, staff, local people and other Citizens of Change who have made Leicester the vibrant University it is today – and look ahead to the next 100 years of teaching, learning and world-changing research.

Highlights of the programme include:

  • ChangeMakers: Centenary Festival – Saturday 2 October 2021 – a landmark event on the main University of Leicester campus, with talks, performances and hands-on demonstrations reflecting our first Century, suited to guests of all ages, ahead of the University’s birthday on October 4.
  • Poppy Pilgrimage – ongoing to Thursday 11 November 2021 – commemorating the sacrifices made by the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland during the First World War by laying wreaths at 100 war memorials in the region, culminating in a Remembrance Day service on campus.
  • Oadby & Wigston and Rutland community events – Sunday 12 September 2021 and February 2022 – recognising the contribution of the people of Oadby & Wigston and Rutland to our heritage by taking the University to them.
  • Space Park Leicester, Percy Gee, Brookfield campus and Freemen’s Common launch events – various – looking ahead to the next 100 years by launching some of the newest spaces for teaching, learning and research in Leicester, including the flagship Space Park Leicester development and new Freemen’s Common student village.
  • Difficult Conversations lecture series – various – a series of lectures and panel discussions posing difficult questions affecting Leicester and today’s world – from the air we breathe to tackling hate crime.
  • The World is a Work in Progress art exhibition – Saturday 25 September to January 2022 – hosted by the Attenborough Arts Centre, an exhibition that invites local communities, contemporary artists and visitors to come together to share their visions for the future.
  • …and a host of art installations, philanthropic events and engagement with the people who have generated 100 years of change at Leicester. Full events schedule available at

The University community has also collected Our 100, a collection of 100 objects, concepts and people that define our past, present, and future – from the Attenborough Family on campus to discovering a King in a car park.

And to mark its Centenary year, the University has provided 100 Citizens of Change scholarships to UK, EU and international students from a wide variety of backgrounds who reflect Leicester’s story so far.

All 100 have been selected for their answers to the question “What do you want to change?”, and assessed for their ideas’ impact, realism and creativity – with submissions ranging from students’ future to reducing crime in the community, solving the climate crisis to improving people’s health.

Aisha Faisal is a second-year Medical Genetics student and became a Centenary Scholar with her commitment to changing negative portrayals of Islam in media. She said:

“Being part of such a diverse community of Centenary Scholars has meant that I can not only be comfortable with myself but also help others.

“The scholarship helped me thrive throughout the pandemic, and I’m really proud to have been involved with the programme.”

Explore the University of Leicester’s Centenary celebrations, Our 100 and more about our story so far at