York St John University
Coat of arms
MottoLatin: Ut Vitam Habeant et Abundantius
Motto in English
They may have life and have it more abundantly
  • 1841 - The Diocesan College in York
  • 1974 - College of Ripon and York St John
  • 2006 - university status
ChancellorReeta Chakrabarti
Vice-ChancellorProfessor Karen Bryan
Administrative staff
Students8,300 (2022)
Undergraduates5,200 (2022)
Postgraduates2,600 (taught) 200 (research)
York, England
London, England

York St John University (originally established as York Diocesan College), often abbreviated to YSJ, is a public university located on a large urban campus in York, England. Established in 1841, it achieved university status in 2006 and in 2015 the university was given research degree awarding powers for PhD and other doctoral programmes.[2]

It is one of several higher education institutions which have religious foundations and is part of the Cathedrals Group of Universities.[3]

In 2022, there were 8,350 students, reading a wide variety of subjects, across five schools: School of the Arts; School of Education, Language and Psychology; School of Humanities; School of Science, Technology and Health; and York Business School.[4]


The university descends from two Anglican teacher training colleges, which were founded in York in 1841 (for men) and 1846 (for women). York St John University's founding mission was to improve access to education for people from all walks of life.[5] 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 (named for John the Evangelist)[6][7] 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, and the first Chancellor (installed at a ceremony in York Minster on 7 March 2007) was the Archbishop of York John Sentamu. Archbishop Sentamu retired in 2019 after 12 years as Chancellor. He was succeeded by BBC broadcaster Reeta Chakrabarti.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2013)
The Quad

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

Creative Centre

Opened in 2021, the purpose-built Creative Centre spans three floors and provides teaching space for theatre, drama, creative writing and media production students. Part of the building is dedicated to computer science teaching and research. It includes high-tech equipment for software engineering and games development. The Creative Centre also includes a large theatre for live performances.[8]

Foss Building

In 2022 new spaces were developed in the existing Foss building to provide enhanced facilities for nu[NS1] [SC2] rsing, biomedical science, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and paramedic science. The facilities include consultation rooms, specialist camera and audio systems, and simulation spaces.

York St John University Sports Park

York St John University Sports Park

The university's main sports facilities are at the Sports Park on Haxby Road, one mile from the city centre.[9] The university acquired the site in 2012. A multi-million-pound redevelopment included the creation of a 3G pitch for football and rugby. The facilities at the site also include grass pitches, outdoor tennis courts, sprint track, sports barn and strength and conditioning suites.[10]

In January 2021, three new indoor tennis courts were opened which are available for public use.[11] As part of £1 million investment a 4G pitch matching the specifications of York Community Stadium was built.[12][13] During the 2021 Rugby League World Cup the sports park hosted the Cook Islands women's team[14] and was the venue for the warm-up match between the York Valkyrie and the Papua New Guinea Orchids on 20 October 2022.[15]

Fountains Learning Centre

Fountains Learning Centre

The Fountains Learning Centre, opened in 2004, is 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.[16]

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.[17]

London campus

In 2018 York St John University's London campus opened, offering various postgraduate programmes in Business Management and Computer Science. The London campus is located near the East India DLR station.[18]

Academic profile

National rankings
Complete (2024)[19]103
Guardian (2024)[20]84
Times / Sunday Times (2024)[21]83


Around 100 degree course options are available to students at foundation and undergraduate level, including biomedical science, computer science, nursing, film and television production (see filmmaking), media production, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, literature, linguistics, Japanese, Korean, British Sign Language (BSL), psychology, counselling, business management, marketing, tourism, sociology, criminology, law, professional policing, video game design, history, creative writing, music, music production, art, design, geography, politics, theatre, dance, sport, theology and primary education.

At postgraduate level, subject areas offered at postgraduate level include business, MBA courses, creative writing, literature, publishing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology, theology, education, theatre, fine art, design, music production, film production, music, counselling, health, law, linguistics and TESOL.[22]


In recent years York St John has developed its research capacity in Allied Health Professions & Studies; Psychology; Education; Sports-related Studies; English Language & Literature; Modern Languages and Linguistics; Theology and Religious Studies; and Drama, Dance & Performing Arts. Over 30% of research was ranked as world-leading and internationally excellent in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF) review.

Institute for Social Justice

The York St John University Institute for Social Justice was launched in 2020 to support the university's mission "to stand up for social justice".[23] The Institute works with people, partners and communities to address the inequalities facing society today.

Reputation and rankings

York St John University was ranked 13th in the Times Higher Education Guide 2023.

York St John University rose to 84th in the Guardian University Guide in 2023. In the National Student Survey 2022, the university was ranked 30th of 122 English Higher Education providers for overall student satisfaction.[1] York St John University is in the top 10 UK universities for giving equal access to students from all backgrounds.[24]


The university has a newly developed set of scholarships for 2021 which include specific scholarships for: students from low income families, students who are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, students who are carers, students whose parents or guardians have died serving their country in the Armed Forces and students who are seeking asylum or with Limited Leave to Remain in the UK.[25]

Students' Union

Students' Union

The YSJ Students' Union (YSJSU), is associated with nearly 50 clubs and societies, covering activities and interests such as sports, languages, music, drama, religion and art. The Students' Union is led by three full-time sabbatical officers: SU President, President of Education and President of Wellbeing and Diversity. There are also a number of part-time officers including chairs of schools and liberation officers. The Students' Union building houses space for students to socialise and create committees.

Community initiatives

In 2021, the Students' Union launched the "Throw it our way" community campaign. In partnership with Mind, Oxfam, RSCPA and the York Community Furniture Store, the campaign aimed to reduce waste being created when students moved out of their accommodation and redistribute items to those in need.[26]

In April 2021, following the easing of some of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the YSJSU launched the campaign "Reconnect the right way." The campaign aimed to normalise social anxiety, support local businesses and give advice on how to stay safe on nights out.[27]

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 2002, a campaign entitled "SSHH – Silent Students Happy Homes" was initiated to combat local residents' concerns about 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[verification needed].


In 2020, the Students' Union received a Silver Award from Investors in People.[28]

In 2017, they attained an accreditation through "Quality Students' Unions" - a quality framework run by the National Union of Students.[29]

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

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 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.[30]


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.

As of academic year 2018–19, the biggest club is the dance club, which stands at 119 members, of which 18 compete at a national level. The club offers 10 types of classes (including ballet, jazz and street) to all its members and six to those on the competition team.[31]

The football club plays 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, seven years after the opening of the Training College. The club has strong links with its Old Johns Cricket Association, whose president was 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.

As of 2019, students formed an esports society and teams formed in titles such as, Overwatch, League of Legends, and CSGO.


YSJSU houses around 30 different societies ranging from Musical Production, Drama, Geek Society, and course based societies too such as Physiotherapy, Geography, Primary Education and many more. The societies work together on many projects in the year[32] and all have the opportunity to win the title of Society of year at the annual Societies Awards Dinner.

Democratic structures

As of September 2016, the Students' Union moved to a new democratic structure in order to further student engagement with the Union. The Students' Union is led by a student executive of twelve, including three full-time officer trustees and nine chairs of schools representing each of the university schools. The current president of York St John Students' Union is Tim Holmes. The current president of education is Jenny Marchant. The current president of wellbeing and diversity is Kirsten Jolley.

The executive all hold seats on the Student Council (previously Senate) and the other seats are filled by elected members of each of the six Students' Union 'Zones' (student forums).

Any student can submit a motion to the Student Council on any issue regarding life at university. The motion is then debated by members of Senate and either passed or not passed as policy.

Community links

Public events

The university regularly hosts in person and virtual lectures, discussions, art displays and presentations for the public to attend.[33]

York St John Communities Centre

Founded in 2016 and based on the university campus, the Communities Centre offers counselling, support groups and drop-in sessions for local residents. It also conducts research into mental health issues.[34] Specialist areas are bereavement and domestic abuse. The Centre regularly collaborates with the Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS).[35]


Converge provides courses for adults who use mental health services in the York area. Their courses include visual arts, creative writing, music, theatre, and study skills. They are taught by staff, students and people with experience of mental ill health.

Notable alumni

See also


  1. ^ "Facts, figures & corporate documents : Staff profile". York St John University official website. Archived from the original on 11 October 2006. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
  2. ^ "Our history". York St John University. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Home | Cathedrals Group (CCUC)". www.cathedralsgroup.ac.uk. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  4. ^ "Undergraduate courses". York St John University. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Our relationship with the church". York St John University. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  6. ^ "Our history". York St John University.
  7. ^ "Sacred spaces". York St John University. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  8. ^ "Creative Centre". York St John University. Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  9. ^ "Haxby Road Sports Park". York St John University. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  10. ^ Prest, Victoria (8 January 2015). "York St John University submits plans for new sports hub on Haxby Road". The Press. Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  11. ^ "York St John University Tennis Centre". York St John University Tennis Centre. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  12. ^ "Our League to show PDRL Grand Final". Everything Rugby League. 18 September 2021. Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  13. ^ "York St John University extend partnership with Knights". Rugby-League.com. 14 September 2021. Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  14. ^ "York St John to host international women's team during Rugby League World Cup". York St John University. 19 April 2022. Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  15. ^ "Boss hails 'international-like' experience for York Valkyrie". York Press. 21 October 2022. Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  16. ^ "York St John University - Fountains Learning Centre". jiscinfonetcasestudies.pbworks.com/w/page/27464399/Welcome. September 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "London Campus". York St John University. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  19. ^ "Complete University Guide 2024". The Complete University Guide. 7 June 2023.
  20. ^ "Guardian University Guide 2024". The Guardian. 9 September 2023.
  21. ^ "Good University Guide 2024". The Times. 15 September 2023.
  22. ^ "Study at York St John University". York St John University official website. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  23. ^ "Institute for Social Justice". York St John University. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  24. ^ "HEPI: Higher Education Policy Institute". HEPI. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  25. ^ "Scholarships for home students". York St John University. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  26. ^ "York St John Students' Union". ysjsu.com. Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  27. ^ "York St John Students' Union". ysjsu.com. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  28. ^ "Home". Investors in People. Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  29. ^ "QSU accredited unions @ NUS Connect". www.nusconnect.org.uk. Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  30. ^ "The Students' Union Evaluation Initiative". SUEI. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  31. ^ "Dance". YSJ SU. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  32. ^ "Societies". York St John Students' Union. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  33. ^ "Events". York St John University. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  34. ^ "Communities centre". York St John University. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  35. ^ "CMHC expansion". York St John University. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  36. ^ Doughty, Eleanor (15 January 2014). "'Will polling stations at unis make a difference?'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  37. ^ a b "York St John University". The Independent. 18 July 2014. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  38. ^ "Hockey and Rugby veterans receive sporting honour". Durham University. 10 June 2004. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  39. ^ "Stories - Alumni - University of Liverpool". alumni.liv.ac.uk.
  40. ^ Burkeman, Oliver (10 August 2012). "Julia Davis: laughing in the dark". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  41. ^ Lewis, Haydn (18 November 2016). "Julia's back to get St John gong". The Press. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  42. ^ "Fame at last". The Press. York. 9 January 2004. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  43. ^ "Bella Hardy, York St John University Students' Union, Lord Mayor's Walk, York, May 19". The Press. York. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  44. ^ Battson, Francesca (22 September 2016). "Scarlett Moffatt: Everything you need to know". Closer. Retrieved 5 December 2016.

Further reading

53°57′55″N 1°04′50″W / 53.965402°N 1.080673°W / 53.965402; -1.080673