Sir Duncan Rice Library / schmidt hammer lassen

Scottish Universities

Scotland is home to a diverse and internationally successful higher education sector of 19 Scottish universities. Use our fact-files to help you find out more about each one.

University of Aberdeen
Name University of Aberdeen
Description The University of Aberdeen is the UK’s fifth oldest university with an academic reputation spanning over 500 years.
Location / Locale Aberdeen is Scotland’s third largest city and Europe’s energy capital. A coastline of spectacular beaches stretches north of the city, while Royal Deeside, home to some of the most beautiful countryside in Scotland, lies to the west.
No. of students 16,500 students
International population The student community represents 120 nationalities.
Specialisms The university has an excellent reputation for teaching quality and research, and, over the years, five Nobel Prizes have been awarded for work carried out or begun at Aberdeen. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) assessed 89% of Aberdeen’s research activity as being of international quality and 55% as either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.
Interesting facts The university has made a multi-million pound investment to provide its students with some of the very best facilities available anywhere in the UK. These include: an Olympic standard sports village, one of the largest wireless campuses in Europe, a state-of-the-art medical teaching facility on Europe’s largest health campus, and, just opened in autumn 2011, a £57m library.
University of Abertay Dundee
Name University of Abertay Dundee
Description Abertay University is the UK’s first National Centre of Excellence for Computer Games Education.
Location/locale The university is conveniently located on a city centre campus in Dundee, with all of its buildings within a quarter of a mile of each other. Shops, recreational facilities and the main bus and train stations are just a short walk away.
No. of students Around 5,000
International population Around 20% of students at Abertay come from outside of the UK. Of those, around a quarter come from countries outside of the EU, including India, China and Pakistan.
Specialisms The University’s teaching and learning has been judged to be of excellent quality in economics and environmental sciences and its research in psychology, environmental sciences, and law are recognised to be of world-class standard.
Interesting facts Abertay was the first British university to offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in computer games technology. The university has a state-of-the-art library and over 1200 personal computers available for student use - one of the highest proportions in the UK.
University of Dundee
Name University of Dundee
Description The university’s origins date back to 1881 when University College, Dundee, was founded. Dundee became an independent university in 1967 following a 70-year relationship with the University of St Andrews.
Location / locale Situated on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, Dundee is Scotland’s fourth largest city. It is currently undergoing a £300m waterfront re-development that will see the opening of the V&A gallery in 2015. The university campus is just five minutes from the city centre.
No. of students 18,000
International population International students come from more than 83 countries and make up 13% of the student body.
Specialisms The University of Dundee attracts top-class researchers from across the world in subjects as diverse as medicine, life-sciences, dentistry, law, microelectronics, fine art and design, digital media and space exploration.
Interesting facts The university is one of the world’s top 225 universities (Times Higher Education and QS, 2012), top-ranked in the UK for student experience (Times Higher Education, 2012), and among the world’s leading centres for scientific research (Leiden ranking, 2012).
Edinburgh Napier University
Name Edinburgh Napier University
Description Edinburgh Napier University is a modern, professional and innovative university that places great emphasis on ensuring that its academic portfolio meets the needs of learners, employers and the economy.
Location / locale The university is based around its Merchiston, Craiglockhart and Sighthill campuses in Edinburgh, Scotland’s vibrant and cosmopolitan capital city. There are also smaller medical campuses outside the city in Melrose and Livingston.
No. of students Nearly 17,500 students
International population Over 5,000 international students from over 100 different countries.
Specialisms Employability is a key focus at Napier University, with 93.% 6of students securing jobs or further study within six months of graduating (HESA 2010). Courses on offer include computing, life sciences, engineering, nursing and midwifery.
Interesting facts The university is named after John Napier, the inventor of logarithms and the decimal point, who was born in 1550 in the medieval tower house of Merchiston Castle, Edinburgh.
University of Edinburgh
Name University of Edinburgh
Description The University of Edinburgh is one the UK’s oldest and most prestigious, with an outstanding reputation for excellence in both research and teaching.
Location / locale The city of Edinburgh is home to a UNESCO world heritage site and the world’s biggest arts festival, and is regularly recognised as one of the UK’s best places to live.
No. of students 30,000 students
International population 11,000 of the students come from outside the UK, and are from more than 153 countries.
Specialisms According to the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008, the University of Edinburgh is a UK leader in medicine, veterinary medicine, computer science, linguistics and literature, and 96% of its academic departments produce world-leading research.
Interesting facts University of Edinburgh scientists created Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal to be genetically cloned from an adult cell. The university is working towards many more historic firsts, including finding new treatments for diseases such as multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease and breast cancer.
University of Glasgow
Name University of Glasgow
Description Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is one of the world’s top 100 universities, according to the QS World University Rankings 2012, and a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.
Location/locale Glasgow is the UK’s third largest city – and Scotland’s largest – with a renowned music scene, excellent shopping, a wealth of arts and cultural venues, and friendly nightlife.
No. of students Around 23,000
International population The University welcome’s international students from more than 120 countries, and the 2012 International Student Barometer ranks Glasgow third in the UK for international student satisfaction.
Specialisms The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008 concluded that history of art at the University of Glasgow is top in the UK; veterinary medicine is rated joint top in the UK; cancer studies, accounting and finance are in the UK’s top five; and a further 14 subjects rank in the top 10 in the UK.
Interesting facts The University of Glasgow has been associated with seven Nobel Prize winners, such as Professor Robert Edwards, awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2010 for his work on fertilisation. The University’s other high-achievers include the father of economics Adam Smith, founder of the absolute scale of temperature Lord Kelvin and the first female medical graduate in Scotland Marion Gilchrist.
Glasgow Caledonian University
Name Glasgow Caledonian University
Description Glasgow Caledonian University has a reputation for applying its knowledge and skills for the social and economic benefit of the communities it serves in the UK and around the world.
Location/locale The university is located on a modern, award–winning campus in Glasgow’s city centre. It also has a postgraduate campus in the UK’s capital, at GCU London.
No. of students Around 20,000
International population The student population is drawn from more than 100 countries.
Specialisms GCU has established a reputation for careers-focused programmes and innovation through world-leading, impact-focused research in key fields including: health, the environment, banking, tourism and fashion.
Interesting facts Many of the university’s courses are accredited by industry bodies. Its journalism programmes are accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists and the Broadcast Journalism Training Council. GCU London’s programmes are underpinned by industry support from market leaders including Santander, Morgan Stanley, AllSaints, and Marks and Spencer.
Glasgow School of Art
Name Glasgow School of Art
Description Founded in 1845, the Glasgow School of Art is one of the UK’s few remaining independent art schools.
Location/locale The GSA has occupied its present site in the centre of Glasgow since 1899. At the heart of the campus is the renowned Mackintosh Building, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a GSA alumnus and one of modern history’s most influential designers.
No. of students Around 1900
International population Around 15% of the student body is international.
Specialisms The GSA is internationally recognised as one of Europe’s leading higher education institutions for education and research in the visual creative disciplines. Study is done through one of three schools: Fine Art; Design; and the Mackintosh School of Architecture. The focus of all courses is on studio practice.
Interesting facts GSA students have the opportunity to work with practicing artists, designers and architects such as Louise Hopkins (Venice Biennale), Professor Thomas Joshua Cooper (Guggenheim Fellow), Brian Cairns (Gold Medal Winner from the Society of Illustrators), and Christine Borland (Turner Prize Nominee). In fact, 28% of the artists short-listed for the Turner Prize since 2005, including Karla Black and Martin Boyce, have been GSA graduates.
Heriot-Watt University
Name Heriot-Watt University
Description The origins of Heriot-Watt University lie in the School of Arts of Edinburgh, which was established as the world’s first Mechanics Institute in 1821.
Location/locale Based in Edinburgh, the university’s main campus incorporates a research park that is home to more than 40 companies. In 2005, the university opened its first international branch campus in Dubai.
No. of students The university has a total of 23,000 students, of which around 8000 are on campus in Scotland, 2500 on campus in Dubai and a further 12,500 who are studying with partners or as independent learners globally.
International population Heriot-Watt delivers degree programmes to 11,800 students in 150 countries around the world.
Specialisms Heriot-Watt is renowned for innovation in science, engineering and business. It offers a wide variety of programmes from architectural engineering, robotics and cybertronics, and chemistry with forensic science, through to languages and intercultural studies, fashion technology and psychology (applied).
Interesting facts As well as extensive international research collaborations, the university has 50 Approved Learning Partners – universities and colleges – offering Heriot-Watt degrees in 30 different countries worldwide. A major new campus is under development in Putrajaya, Malaysia, and this is due to open in 2014.
University of the Highlands and Islands
Name University of the Highlands and Islands
Description Formally established in 2011, the University of the Highlands and Islands is the newest Scottish university but it has been offering degrees since 1998. It includes institutions that date back over 100 years.
Location/locale Thirteen campuses and more than 50 learning centres spread throughout the Highlands and Islands make up the University of the Highlands and Islands network. You might choose to study in one of the larger urban centres of the region, such as Perth, Inverness or Elgin, or in one of the smaller towns or island communities, including the Western and Northern Isles.
No. of students Approximately 7600
International population Around 3% of the university’s student population come from outside the UK.
Specialisms The university’s research and teaching strengths derive in part from the geography of the region and include marine science, rural and sustainable development, environmental science and renewable energy. In addition, the university is active in the health sciences, business and management, creative industries, and in engineering, including aircraft engineering and energy engineering.
Interesting facts The University of the Highlands and Islands is the only university based in the scenically outstanding Highlands and Islands. It is internationally recognised for its innovative use of technology to provide access to higher education to a widely dispersed population.
The Open University
Name The Open University in Scotland (OU)
Description The Open University was founded to open up higher education to all, regardless of their circumstances or where they live.
Location/locale The OU is a world leader in modern distance learning, pioneering teaching and learning methods which enable people across the globe to achieve their career and life goals by studying at times and in places that suit them.
No. of students There are 16,000 OU students based in Scotland.
International population Globally, more than 250,000 people study with The Open University.
Specialisms The Open University is one of the world’s largest MBA providers and it is one of only two universities in Scotland whose MBA is triple accredited.
Interesting facts The OU in Scotland has topped the National Student Survey for satisfaction since its inception in 2006. The OU has helped many governments set up their own Open Universities, including India’s Indira Gandhi National Open University and Allama Iqbal Open University in Pakistan. The OU is also involved in a range of health and education development projects across Asia and Africa.
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
Name Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
Description Queen Margaret University was established in 1875 to address some of the key problems of its time such as better career opportunities for women. Today, it is a modern university which prepares graduates for useful careers and equips them with the skills which will help them make a real difference to society. Its teaching and research are designed to enhance the social and economic well-being of the communities it serves – within Scotland, the UK and internationally.
Location/locale QMU is based at a purpose-built campus on the southeast side of Edinburgh, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city that is regularly recognised as one of the UK’s best places to live.
No. of students More than 5,000
International population Around 24% of undergraduate students are international coming from more than 84 different countries.
Specialisms QMU has academic flagship areas of health and rehabilitation, sustainable business, and culture and creativity. The University provides highly relevant professional education and research that informs policy and practice in health, performing arts, media and social science, and business, enterprise and management.
Interesting facts QMU’s innovative campus has set a new benchmark in sustainable design. The development, which opened in 2007, transformed a 35-acre site from low grade farm land into landscaped parkland. The building design maximises energy efficiency, the landscape design encourages biodiversity, and a number of environmental technologies have been employed including biomass heating, thin-client computer technology and a sustainable urban drainage system. In 2012, it won the Outstanding Leadership and Management Team category of the prestigious Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards.
Robert Gordon University
Name Robert Gordon University
Description Robert Gordon University was awarded university status in 1992 but has a pedigree in education that goes back 250 years.
Location/locale The university is situated in Aberdeen on Scotland’s north-east coast. It is a vibrant and multicultural city, home to a population of over 220,000, including 20,000 students.
No. of students Approximately 16,500
International population The university has around 1500 international students representing some 120 countries.
Specialisms The university’s school of pharmacy is the oldest in the UK and is recognised through affiliation by the World Health Organisation. Gray’s School of Art at RGU is over 125 years old and has a formidable reputation for producing some of Scotland’s top artists. The university also has a pedigree in health, engineering, business, the built environment and science.
Interesting facts Over the last decade, the university has consistently had one of the best records of any UK University for graduate-level employment and was quoted in The Times Good University Guide 2013 as the best modern university in the UK for the fifth year running. From September 2013, all teaching at RGU will move to a £170m campus at Garthdee on the banks of the River Dee.
Royal Conservatoire Scotland
Name Royal Conservatoire Scotland
Description The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, formerly the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, provides specialised vocational education to professional standards across dance, drama, music, screen, and production.
Location/locale Facilities are spread over two Glasgow city centre campuses. They are amongst the best in Europe, with specialist dance rehearsal space, technical construction workshops, props and wardrobe facilities, a new digital media suite, recording studio facilities and professional performance venues.
No. of students Approximately 800
International population Around 20% of students come from outside the UK.
Specialisms As the only conservatoire in the UK, and one of few internationally to offer dance, drama, music, screen, and production, students are provided with an education that transcends disciplinary boundaries. The Royal Conservatoire’s Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008 result showed that 85% of its research in music was of international quality.
Interesting facts At the Conservatoire, students are industry-ready when they graduate. In fact, many have been engaged professionally before graduation. The Conservatoire has partners in industry including Scottish Ballet, Scottish Opera, BBC Scotland, National Theatre of Scotland, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Shakespeare’s Globe, Royal Shakespeare Company, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and Classic FM.
Scotland’s Rural College
Name Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)
Description SRUC (formed by the merger of Scottish Agricultural College and Oatridge, Elmwood and Barony Colleges on 1st October 2012) is a specialist research, advisory and teaching institution that supports global agriculture, rural development, food production and the management of land and natural resources.
Location/locale SRUC has six campuses spread across Scotland, Aberdeen, Ayr, Oatridge, Elmwood , Barony and Edinburgh.
No. of students Around 1,000
International population SRUC works with partners in over 40 countries.
Specialisms SRUC’s position as a Centre of Excellence has gained international recognition in the industries involved in food, land and the environmental sectors and all aspects of the rural economy. Courses offered range from vocational skills training to professional development.
Interesting facts SRUC’s courses prepare students for the future. Of the students completing courses in 2010, 92% of respondents were in employment or were studying within 6 months. In fact, many companies approach SRUC first when seeking new employees.
University of St Andrews
Name University of St Andrews
Description Founded in 1413, St Andrews is the third oldest University in the English-speaking world.
Location/locale St Andrews is a former royal burgh on the east coast of Fife. It is relatively small, with the University accounting for approximately half the town’s population. It has a distinctly cosmopolitan air thanks to the constant infusion of visitors who come to experience the spectacular scenery and famous golf courses.
No. of students Around 7700
International population Approximately 33.5% of students at St Andrews are from overseas.
Specialisms The University of St Andrews specialises in arts and the humanities but also has expertise in sciences and medicine. The university ranks in the top 10 for research, teaching and the student experience. One of its most distinguishing features is the strong sense of community reinforced by the size and location of the town and the many cultural and social activities on offer at the university.
Interesting facts Two of the University’s most famous alumni are Prince William and Catherine Middleton who met while studying at St Andrews and shared a flat in the town. The couple returned to St Andrews in 2011, six years after graduating, to launch the University’s 600th anniversary fundraising appeal. The prince said it felt like “coming home” and described his alma mater as “the best University in the world”.
University of Stirling
Name University of Stirling
Description The University of Stirling was the first genuinely new Scottish university for over 400 years when it was founded by Royal Charter in 1967.
Location / locale Located around Stirling, a city at the geographical heart of Scotland, the university lies beneath the Ochil hills, on the site of the historic Airthrey estate. Its 310 acres include an 18th century castle, a loch, golf course and 50 meter swimming pool. There are additional campuses at Inverness in the Highlands and Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.
No. of students More than 12,300
International population 23% of students are from overseas, representing 100 nationalities.
Specialisms The University of Stirling is the top-ranked Scottish university for nursing and midwifery; education; sports studies; communication, culture and media studies according to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).
Interesting facts The University of Stirling has some of the finest sports facilities on a single site in Scotland. These include the Scottish National Swimming Academy used as an Intensive Training Centre for the British Olympic Association; and the Gannochy National Tennis Centre, with six indoor and four outdoor courts. Other facilities include a golf course and golf academy, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, artificial and grass pitches, a football academy and facilities for all major indoor and outdoor sports
University of Strathclyde
Name University of Strathclyde
Description Established more than 200 years ago “for the good of mankind”, the University of Strathclyde has always had a global outlook.
Location / locale The university is situated in the heart of Glasgow – one of the UK’s largest, most dynamic and friendly cities.
No. of students More than 18,000
International population Around 10% of students come from overseas, representing 100 different countries.
Specialisms Strathclyde Business School is in the 1% of schools worldwide to hold triple accreditation from AACSB International, EQUIS and AMBA. The university is also internationally recognised for its close working relationship with global businesses, and its partnerships with industry, government and policy makers. Global partners include Babcock, GlaxoSmithKline, Rolls-Royce, EDF and Gamesa.
Interesting facts The university’s close links with business and industry, combined with access to company scholarships, help to give its graduates a head start in their careers. Statistics show that 92.7% of its 2009/10 full time, UK undergraduates were in employment or further study six months after graduating.
University West of Scotland
Name University West of Scotland
Description University of the West of Scotland is the country’s largest modern university, with a broad range of vocational courses on offer.
Location / locale The university has campuses across the west of Scotland including Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton and Paisley.
No. of students More than 17,000
International population UWS has around 1400 international students from countries such as the USA, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China and more from across the EU.
Specialisms The university’s wide-ranging portfolio encompasses business, computing, engineering, health, science, sport, creative industries, education and social sciences. UWS also has a well-established track record in applied research and consultancy services to industry, with a particular focus on small-to-medium-sized enterprises.
Interesting facts To provide the best possible learning environments for students, a £200m investment programme is underway at UWS. It has already delivered a new £80m campus, which opened in Ayr in August 2011. The campus houses performance, broadcasting and editing facilities as well as state-of-the-art nursing skills and training labs.