About The University

The University has an annual turnover of more than £984 million, of which £279 million is competitive research grants and other funding, and it has more than 14,500 staff and over 41,000 students. Edinburgh is a founding member of the UK’s Russell Group of leading research universities, and a member of the League of European Research Universities.

From playing a central role in the Enlightenment and establishing the first English literature department in the world, to laying the foundations of electromagnetism and antiseptic surgery, the University is steeped in history.
Our campuses house some of the world’s most important collections, spanning more than 400 years and including art, musical instruments, natural history, geology, anatomy, rare books and manuscripts.
We have the oldest student newspaper and purpose-built student union in the world. Every year we award the James Tait Black Prizes, Britain’s oldest literary awards.

Today, against the backdrop of an ever-changing political landscape,  we continue to have a global outlook, in the knowledge that our international partnerships, collaborations, staff and student community make us what we are, and allow us, as an institution, to continue in the tradition of making history.

We have a clear and ambitious strategy for the future, seeking to further strengthen our position as one of the foremost universities in the world, globally connected and internationally regarded for education, research and translation. Our values are deeply oriented towards the widest possible impact and benefit that our students, staff and alumni can offer for Scotland and to global society as a whole.  To ensure we are best placed to be able to make this strong contribution in the future, the University is continuing to build a virtuous cycle  in which sustained impact and excellence is underpinned by enhanced resource and the strength of our reputation.


Vision and Mission

Vision: We deliver impact for society.

As a truly global university, rooted in Scotland’s capital city, we make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to the world.

Mission: We discover, develop and share knowledge.

As a centre of academic excellence we aim to:

  • provide the highest-quality research-led teaching and learning;
  • challenge the boundaries of knowledge, research and disciplines;
  • enable our graduates and staff  to be exceptional individuals equipped to address global challenges; and
  • promote good health, economic growth, cultural understanding and social wellbeing.


About The City

The University is at the very heart of the City, and Edinburgh is an inspiring capital with an irresistible mix of history, natural beauty and modern city life.

With its stunning blend of Georgian and Victorian architecture and winding medieval streets, it is easy to see why Edinburgh is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  It was also the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. 

Regularly voted one of the most desirable places to live in the world, Edinburgh offers an impressive array of cultural, social and sporting activities. With two National Galleries, the Royal Scottish Academy, the National Library,  the National Museum, the Scottish Parliament, 30 major international arts festivals throughout the year, world-class theatres and concert halls, Edinburgh has a modern dynamism within its historic streets.
People from all over the world have settled here, creating a strong multicultural community. It has all the advantages of a major European capital yet is small in scale – being home to only half a million people.
It is well known for its safe, green environment and its compact size makes it easy to get around, with a large proportion of University staff opting to walk to work.

Edinburgh is the second-largest financial centre in the UK with a thriving, diverse economy and a highly educated and motivated workforce. Several major global financial institutions have their headquarters in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is the birthplace of  Dolly the Sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal, the home of high performance computing for the academic community, and a place that has developed the country’s most vibrant biosciences sector.  The University is positioned at the very centre of this atmosphere of innovation and collaboration.

Beyond the city boundaries, Scotland is a land of great natural beauty, with mountains, lochs, forests and several thousand miles of stunning coastline,  all within easy reach.


Organisational Structure

Subject to the ultimate authority of the Court, the academic affairs of the University are the responsibility of the Senatus Academicus.  The Principal and Vice-Chancellor is the Chief Academic and Administrative Officer of the University; the designated Accounting Officer for the purposes of the receipt of Scottish Funding Council grants; a member of the Court; and President of the Senatus.

The University’s academic structure comprises three colleges, each under the leadership of a Head of College who is also a Vice-Principal. 

They are:

  • The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
  • The College of Science and Engineering.


Below college level are 20 schools, each under the leadership and direction of a Head of School.  The management structure of the University is highly devolved to allow the Colleges and Schools to lead and manage their affairs in the best interests of their academic and strategic priorities within the context of corporate University policies.

The professional and support services for the University are also organised into three groups:

  • University Secretary’s Group, headed by the University Secretary.
  • Corporate Services Group, headed by the Director of Corporate Services.
  • Information Services Group, headed by the Chief Information Officer and Librarian to the University.

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Key facts:

Established in 1583, Edinburgh is consistently ranked in the world’s top 50 universities (most recently 18th in the QS World University rankings); has been ranked fourth in the UK  for the breadth and depth of its research; and is the largest university in Scotland.