Heriot-Watt University

Heriot-Watt University. Edinburgh. Scotland. United Kingdom. Study Abroad

Heriot-Watt University Details

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Overview


With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, which has made us one of the top UK universities for business and industry.

We’re a vibrant, forward-looking university, well known for the quality of our degrees with employers actively seeking out our graduates.

Heriot-Watt is also Scotland’s most international university with an unsurpassed international in-country presence. We deliver degree programmes to 31,000 students globally, have campuses in Dubai and Malaysia and boast the largest international student cohort in Scotland.

We are committed to continuous improvement and development in all our activity. Our focus is on responding to the changing needs of business, industry and society and finding solutions to the global challenges of the 21st century.

Building on established expertise in key, specialist areas, our aim is to produce the next generation of leaders and thinkers who make a difference in the world.

We are already leading the way in areas as varied as energy, the environment and climate change, risk and modelling, infrastructure and transport, and the interface between life and physical sciences.

At Heriot-Watt we’ve created an environment that nurtures innovation and leadership – where our researchers, staff and students can realise their potential and develop their ambitions.

We’re proud of our collegiate atmosphere and integrated teaching and research approach which has helped to build a community of committed academics and highly motivated students. Our focus on careers delivers results and we’ve an excellent reputation for graduate employability.

We have campuses in Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders, Orkney, Dubai and Malaysia where we aim to provide stimulating, supportive environments conducive to effective learning and research, and where staff and students can excel.

 

A history rooted in industry and commerce

For almost two centuries we’ve remained true to the values of George Heriot and James Watt – the two giants of industry and commerce who give our university its name. Our foundations are built on practical, applied learning. Education that meets the needs of global industry and enables our students to fulfil their career aspirations.

Applied study for the real world

We shape tomorrow’s work-ready, industry-fit graduates and postgraduates. We connect with industry at every level and develop programmes to match their needs. Real issues, real projects, real research – so our students get practical, real-life experience and the employer gets work- ready industry-fit graduates.

A hands-on approach to teaching

We know practical, applied learning, research and teaching inside-out. It’s what we’ve always done. By engaging with business on real issues, real projects, and real research – our students get practical, real-life experience and the employer gets industry-fit graduates.

We’re big enough to attract some of the leading experts in their fields and we’re small enough to give our students the chance to learn from them – not at arms-length, but hands-on.

Highly employable graduates

We give our students a real taste of things to come in their careers – they don’t just know what to do, but they also know how to do it. It’s why we rank 15th in the UK for average starting salary of £23,285 and 94% of students are in employment or further study within six months of graduation.

A truly global experience

We provide a global perspective and experience – our academic and student body is a diverse international mix with 1/3 of our students at our Scottish campus coming from overseas. We have campuses in key locations across the world in Malaysia and Dubai as well as the UK – offering our students the unrivalled opportunity to transfer between campuses and obtain a truly global education.

Schools / Colleges / Departments / Courses / Faculties


  • Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure & Society
  • Engineering & Physical Sciences
  • Life Sciences
  • Management & Languages
  • Mathematical & Computer Sciences
  • Textiles & Design
  • Edinburgh Business School

History


Heriot-Watt was established as the School of Arts of Edinburgh by Scottish businessman Leonard Horner on 16 October 1821. Having been inspired by Anderson’s College in Glasgow, Horner established the School to provide practical knowledge of science and technology to Edinburgh’s working men.The institution was initially of modest size, giving lectures two nights a week in rented rooms and boasting a small library of around 500 technical works. It was also oversubscribed, with admissions soon closing despite the cost of 15 shillings for a year’s access to lectures and the library.

The School was managed by a board of eighteen directors and primarily funded by sponsors from the middle and upper classes includingRobert Stevenson and Walter Scott. It first became associated with the inventor and engineer James Watt in 1824, as a means of raising funds to secure permanent accommodation. Justifying the association, School Director Lord Cockburn said:

“[The building] shall be employed for the accommodation of the Edinburgh School of Arts; whereby the memory of Watt may forever be connected with the promotion, among a class of men to which he himself originally belonged, of those mechanical arts from which his own usefulness and glory arose.”

In 1837, the School of Arts moved to leased accommodation on Adam Square, which it was able to purchase in 1851 thanks to funds raised in Watt’s name. In honour of the purchase, the School changed its name to the Watt Institution and School of Arts in 1852.

Heriot-Watt’s time as the Watt Institution marked a transitional period for the organisation, as its curriculum broadened to include several subjects beyond mathematics and the physical sciences. While the School of Arts had catered almost exclusively to working-class artisans and technical workers, the Watt Institution admitted a large number of middle-class students, whom it attracted with new subjects in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. By 1885, the skilled working class were no longer the majority in an institution that had been created explicitly for them.

A shifting class make-up was not the only demographic change to affect the student body, as in 1869 women were permitted to attend lectures for the first time. This move put the Watt Institution some way ahead of Scottish universities, who were only permitted to allow women to graduate 20 years later following the Universities (Scotland) Act of 1889. The decision to admit women was made in large part owing to pressure from local campaigner Mary Burton, who later became the Institution’s first female director in 1874.

In 1870, the Watt Institution was forced to move following the demolition of Adam Square. After a brief period on Roxburgh Place, it relocated to the newly constructedChambers Street near where its former site had stood. The move caused the Institution severe financial difficulties, which were compounded by a combination of declining funds from subscribers and increased costs from its growing student body. In 1873, the Directors turned to George Heriot’s Trust for support, and agreed to a merger of the Trust’s endowment with the Institution’s own. The proposed merger was provisional to changes in the structure of the Watt Institution, which would see the organisation become a technical college with representatives of the Trust in management positions. Accepting these changes, the Watt Institution officially became Heriot-Watt College in 1885, and was subsequently on far firmer financial ground.

After the establishment of Heriot-Watt as a technical college, the new management committee set about extending the institution’s buildings and strengthening its academic reputation. In its new form the College was one of only three non-university institutions in the UK with the power to appoint professors, and the first of these was appointed in 1887. In 1902 the College became a central institution, while in 1904 it introduced awards for graduating students which were similar to university degrees.

Expansion meant that the College made increasing demands on George Heriot’s Trust throughout the first part of the 20th century, which ultimately led to the independence of the two bodies in 1927. While the Trust continued to pay Heriot-Watt a fixed sum each year, from then on the College was responsible for managing its own financial affairs. Heriot-Watt continued to expand after becoming independent, opening a new extension in 1935.

Both World Wars impacted on the speed of the College’s expansion. During World War I, student numbers dropped as young men joined the army, while teaching in engineering stalled as the department was used for the manufacture of shells and munitions. During World War II, student numbers dropped again and the electrical engineering department became involved in training the armed services in the use of radar.

After the College introduced a postgraduate award in 1951, it offered awards equivalent to university degrees and doctorates in all practical respects. Recognising this, in 1963 theRobbins Report recommended that it should be awarded university status. On 1 February 1966 the recommendation was enacted, as the institution officially became Heriot-Watt University.

While Heriot-Watt continued to expand in the centre of Edinburgh after attaining university status, the institution had grown big enough that relocation was felt to be desirable. In 1966 Midlothian County Council gifted the Riccarton estate north of Currie to the University and in 1969 work began on transforming the site into a future campus. The process of relocation to Riccarton continued until 1992, with teaching and facilities divided between the new campus and the city centre until this time.

The University continued to grow after completing its move to Riccarton, constructing additional student halls, a sports centre and a postgraduate centre on the site. The institution also expanded beyond Edinburgh, merging with the Scottish College of Textiles to create a campus in the Scottish Borders in 1998, opening a campus in Dubai in 2006 and a campus in Putrajaya, Malaysia in 2012.


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