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York St John University

York St John University
Motto Ut Vitam Habeant et Abundantius
Motto in English
They may have life and have it more abundantly
Established 1841 (The Diocesan College in York)
1974 (College of Ripon and York St John)
2006 (University status)
Type Public
Chancellor The Most Revd. and Rt. Hon. John Sentamu
Vice-Chancellor Karen Stanton
Administrative staff
Students 6,057[2]
Undergraduates 4,655[2]
Postgraduates 869[2]
Location York, North Yorkshire, England
Campus Urban
Affiliations ACU
Cathedrals Group

York St John University (originally established as York Diocesan College) is a public university located on a large urban campus in York, England. It achieved university status in 2006. It is one of several higher education institutions which have religious foundations; others include Canterbury Christ Church University, Liverpool Hope University, St. Mary's University College, University of Chester, University of Chichester, University of Cumbria, University of Derby, University of Gloucestershire, University of Winchester, and Bishop Grosseteste University.

As of July 2011, there were 6,057 students, reading a wide variety of subjects, in four faculties: Arts; Education and Theology; York St John Business School and Health and Life Sciences.


  • History 1
  • Campus 2
    • Fountains Learning Centre 2.1
    • De Grey Court 2.2
    • Gallery 2.3
  • Academic profile 3
    • Courses 3.1
    • Research ranking 3.2
    • Graduate employment rate 3.3
    • Research 3.4
    • Average student debt on graduation 3.5
  • Students' Union 4
    • Reducing antisocial behaviour amongst students 4.1
    • Sports 4.2
    • Societies 4.3
    • Democratic Structures 4.4
  • Notable alumni 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


The university descends from two Anglican teacher training colleges, which were founded in York in 1841 (for men) and 1846 (for women). In 1862, the women's college relocated to Ripon. Over the next century, the colleges gradually diversified their education programmes. The colleges, St John's College and Ripon College, merged in 1974 to form the "College of Ripon and York St John".

In 1990 the combined institution formally became a college of the University of Leeds; this arrangement allowed it to award degrees in the name of the latter, while remaining in practice largely autonomous. Between 1999 and 2001, all activities were transferred to York and the college received the name "York St John College".

In February 2006, the College was granted the right to award degrees in its own name and the right to call itself a University College. On 10 July 2006 the Privy Council approved a request from the college to become a full-fledged University; the name became "York St John University" on 1 October 2006 once granted by Tony Blair, and the first Chancellor (installed at a ceremony in York Minster on 7 March 2007) is the Archbishop of York John Sentamu.


The university occupies an eleven-acre city centre campus on Lord Mayor's Walk, close to York Minster and the city walls.

Fountains Learning Centre

The Fountains Learning Centre, opened in 2004, is located at the Clarence Street entrance to the campus. It provides access to resources of all kinds including books, journals, DVDs and videos, media equipment, approximately 400 computers and a 200-seat lecture theatre.

De Grey Court

York St John University's £15.5 million De Grey Court was designed by leading architects Charles Thomson of Rivington Street Studio Architects in London. It has won many plaudits, including the highly lauded Lord Mayor's York Design Award and a Royal Institute of British Architects award.[3]


Academic profile


Students can study a range of subjects at foundation and undergraduate level, including film and television production (see filmmaking), physiotherapy, occupational therapy, literature, linguistics, psychology, counselling, business management, marketing, tourism, history, music, art, design, theatre, dance, sport related programmes, psychology, theology and primary education.

At postgraduate and post-experience level, York St John Business School offers a suite of Masters programmes including a new MBA programme. Other subject areas offered at postgraduate level include theology, education, theatre, fine art, film production, music composition, counselling, health, linguistics and TESOL.[4]

Research ranking

(2016, national)
The Guardian[6]
(2016, national)

The University was ranked 90th in the Guardian University Guide in 2011 and 96th in 2012.[7] In 2005, the university was included amongst 74 other academic institutions which were permitted to use the wording "centre of excellence" in its publicity and other material.[8]

Graduate employment rate

90% of graduates (2010) were in employment or full-time study six months after graduating.[9]


In recent years York St John has developed its research capacity in Allied Health Professions & Studies; Psychology; Education; Sports-related Studies; English Language & Literature; Theology & Religious Studies; and Drama, Dance & Performing Arts. In the last Research Assessment Exercise in 2008 the growing research excellence was rewarded with a 518% increase in funding (against an 8% sector average).

Average student debt on graduation

In 2010, the average student debt on graduation was calculated at £16,335. For comparison, students at Huddersfield University face an average debt of £8,309 while Hull University students face an even higher £21,290.[10] Overall, student debt at York St John was second highest in the region.

Students' Union

Many activities are organised in association with the Students' Union and the university offers several sporting and other interest groups in which students can become members. The Students' Union is led by three full-time sabbatical officers, SU President, Vice President Education and Vice President Welfare and Diversity.

Reducing antisocial behaviour amongst students

In 2010, the University's Student Union began a programme of action designed to combat the growing antisocial behaviour amongst its own students. Private security staff paid by the local council were reported to be on patrol until 3am, 2 evenings a week; Wednesday & Friday, in areas where record numbers of complaints had arisen.[11] In 2002, a campaign entitled "SSHH – Silent Students Happy Homes" was initiated to combat local residents' fears of studentification. This has subsequently been adopted by other students' unions around the UK, although in many instances the expansion of the abbreviation has been dropped, leaving campaigns called "Shh", "Sshh", or variants . In 2005, the Students' Union launched another community-friendly campaign called 'Pick It Up'. This campaign was designed to reduce litter levels on campus and in the surrounding community.

In October 2009 the Student Union was awarded a Bronze Students' Union Evaluation Initiative award, one of 16 institutions to receive this accolade. Awards are made from bronze (lowest) to gold (highest). The scheme is administered by a former manager of Sheffield University Student Union. Currently Sheffield University shares the gold award with the nearby Leeds University.[12]

In 2012 the Students' Union was awarded silver in the Students' Union Evaluation Initiative, making it the only small Students' Union in the country to receive the award.

In June 2014 the Students' Union was short listed for Small and Specialist Students' Union of the Year at the annual NUS Awards.


The Students' Union has many sports clubs.

York St John University Rowing Club was founded 11 years after the college in 1852 and caters for all levels of experience; from competent rowers to complete beginners.

The biggest club is the rugby union club founded in 1883, which names amongst its alumni England International Peter Squires, England Grand Slam Manager Geoff Cooke, Internationals Jack Harrison, Tom Danby and Swiss International Tristan Bernard. There is an active Old Johnsmen Rugby Club.[13]

The Football Club play soccer at Heworth Green: one team competes under the name York St John University in the York Football League (they are currently in the Premier Division of that league system); their reserve team also feature in Reserve Division A, which is the top reserve league. Its origins date back to 1872 when J. Morton persuaded the Sports Association to take up association football.

The Cricket Club is probably the oldest club – the first record of cricket being played was in 1848 just seven years after the opening on the Training College. The club has strong links with its Old Johns Cricket Association, whose president is ex-student Harry Gration.

The Hockey club is one of the biggest clubs within the university, offering 1st and 2nd men's and ladies teams and a mixed team. The men's 1st team are the last ever BUSA National Plate champions, having won the competition in 2008.

The Badminton club is also present and represents York St John in BUCS too.


YSJSU houses around 30 different Societies ranging from Musical Production, Drama, Singing, and course based societies too such as Physiotherapy, Psychology, Primary Education and many more. The societies work together on many projects in the year and all have the opportunity to win the title of Society of year at the annual Sports and Societies Awards Dinner.

Democratic Structures

As of September 2012 the Students' Union moved to a new democratic structure, to further student engagement with the union. The Students' Union is led by a student executive of 7, including three full-time officer trustees and 4 faculty chairs representing each of the university faculties.

The executive all hold seats on Senate and the other seats are decided via proportional representation of the size of each faculty. Each faculty get one seat for every 500 students thus the faculty of arts has 4 as well as their chair.

The students chosen to fill the seats at Senate are elected at the faculty forums before the next senate.

Any student can submit a motion to Senate and it be on any issue that they are facing and is then put to a vote on whether it should become Union Policy.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "Facts, figures & corporate documents : Staff profile". York St John University official website. Retrieved 7 January 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c "Student profile at 1 May 2010". York St John University official website. Retrieved 2 December 2010. 
  3. ^ Lewis, Haydn (28 July 2009). "York St John University’s £15.5 million De Grey Court building scoops Lord Mayor’s York Design Award". York Press. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "Study at York St John University". York St John University official website. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "University League Table 2016". The Complete University Guide. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "University league table 2016". The Guardian. 25 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "University guide 2012 – University league table". The Guardian. 17 May 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  8. ^ "Complete list of funded CETLs". Higher Education Funding Council for England. 19 May 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2010. 
  9. ^ "York St John". York ST John. 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Students face £25,000 debt burden, shock report warns, Yorkshire Post, 13 August 2010, retrieved 12 October 2010 
  11. ^ Bean, Dan (1 February 2010). "York St John University patrols combat bad behaviour". York: York Press online. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  12. ^ "The Students' Union Evaluation Initiative". SUEI. Retrieved 7 October 2010. 
  13. ^ [2]

Further reading

  • G. P. McGregor (1991) A Church College for the 21st Century? 150 years of Ripon & York St John, 1841–1991: A study of policy and its absence. William Sessions Ltd, York, England. (ISBN 1-85072-079-7)

External links

  • York St John University
  • York St John University Students' Union

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