An announcement today from the university said its board of governors was seeking permission from the Privy Council to make the change.
At the end of May staff and students were asked to choose between three options for a new name – Leeds Headingley University, Leeds Ridings Univeristy, and Leeds Beckett University.
Some 45,000 communications were sent out and nearly 1,500 responses were received in the consultation, according to a university report.
No details have been released of how many of the 1,500 voted for the winning name.
A Facebook page set up in May to oppose the proposed changes and keep the name of Leeds Met currently has 3,459 “likes”.
Reaction from students on social media to today’s announcement has been largely negative.
Why the change?
Well, the university believes it’s a very different institution these days from the one that morphed from Leeds Poly into Leeds Met in 1992.
“We have outgrown our ‘Metropolitan’ name and all that it stands for in the sector and the national and international markets in which we operate,” said an announcement earlier this year.
The university’s leadership has been worried in particular that it was mistakenly being seen abroad as part of a chain of Metropolitan Universities. “This had at times led to undue associations where another institution had been portrayed negatively in the media,” said a report discussed by the board earlier this month.
The “additional direct costs” of renaming the university were put at around £250,000 in a report that went to a governors’ meeting in May, though it wasn’t clear what those costs covered.
Who was this Beckett anyway?
The Becketts were grocers from Barnsley who became textile manufacturers and merchants, moved into Leeds, went into banking, married into the local elite, went into politics in the late 18th century, got ennobled, became MPs …
Ennobled for services to banking? Not quite. By all accounts, John Beckett, a former mayor of Leeds, was rewarded with a baronetcy in 1813 for his sterling work in subduing the Luddite riots in Leeds.
And the connection with the university?
In 1834 the family bought house and land at Kirkstall Grange, which became known as Beckett’s Park.
In the early 20th century the house and land got sold to the council (the Corporation as was), and they set up a teacher training college there, which over decades morphed into the Leeds Met Headingley campus.
There’s a royal connection too with the Becketts, though it’s a little sad.
When Queen Victoria came to Leeds to open the new town hall in 1858, the Beckett then in residence at the Grange (Tory MP William) had an arch especially built in the grounds.
Apparently he thought that Queen Victoria was going to stay at his place during the visit and fancied escorting her to the arch on an after-dinner stroll so she could get a panoramic view of Kirkstall Forge and the other bits of Leeds you could see from there.
Except she never came. She’d made other arrangements, so she never got to see the house or the arch.
Never mind. The arch is still there.