As of 2003, the university has an excellent reputation for teaching and provides a wide range of courses for students. During this academic year (2002-3) just under 28,000 students are attached to 684 different first-degree programmes and 312 postgraduate degree programmes. A further 28,000 men and women are enrolled on short courses with the university. It enjoys an excellent reputation in many different subjects, with more students studying languages and physical sciences than at any other UK institution. It has also developed expertise in more distinctive and rare specialist areas, such as colour chemistry and fire science.
Leeds is also a leading research institution, and a member of the Russell Group of Universities. It is committed to working with the private sector, and invests heavily in realising the commercial potential of its academic developments. Leeds attracts the highest level of industrial funding of any university in the UK.
Successful graduates include the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (graduated LLB in Law, 1967), the former International Development Secretary Clare Short (graduated BA in Political Science, 1969), Mark Byford, director of the BBC World Service (graduated LLB in Law, 1979), Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail (English, 1970) chairman of ITN News Mark Wood (German, 1974), Professor V. Craig Jordan, OBE (responsible for pioneering research into breast cancer and the development of the cancer drug Tamoxifen, BSc and PhD in pharmacology in 1969 and 1972), Dire Straits guitarist and singer Mark Knopfler (English, 1973), and Dr Christopher Fay, CBE (chairman of the advisory committee on business and the environment, chairman of Expro International and a director with BAA and Anglo American, and chairman and chief executive of Shell UK from 1993 ? 1998. Graduated Leeds with BSc and PhD in civil engineering.)