The University of Edinburgh (abbreviated as Edin. in post-nominals), founded in 1582, is the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland’s ancient universities. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city of Edinburgh, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university.
The University of Edinburgh was ranked 17th and 21st in the world by the 2014–15 and 2015-16 QS rankings. The Research Excellence Framework, a research ranking used by the UK government to determine future research funding, ranked Edinburgh 4th in the UK for research power, with Computer Science and Informatics ranking 1st in the UK. It is ranked 16th in the world in arts and humanities by the 2015–16 Times Higher Education Ranking. It is ranked the 23rd most employable university in the world by the 2015 Global Employability University Ranking. It is ranked as the 6th best university in Europe by the U.S. News’ Best Global Universities Ranking. It is a member of both the Russell Group, and the League of European Research Universities, a consortium of 21 research universities in Europe. It has the third largest endowment of any university in the United Kingdom, after the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.
The University of Edinburgh played an important role in leading Edinburgh to its reputation as a chief intellectual centre during the Age of Enlightenment, and helped give the city the nickname of the Athens of the North. Alumni of the university include some of the major figures of modern history, including physicist James Clerk Maxwell, naturalist Charles Darwin, philosopher David Hume, mathematician Thomas Bayes, surgeon Joseph Lister, signatories of the American declaration of independence James Wilson, John Witherspoon and Benjamin Rush, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, first president of Tanzania Julius Nyerere, and a host of famous authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, J.M. Barrie and Sir Walter Scott. Associated people include 20 Nobel Prize winners, 2 Turing Award winners, 1 Abel Prize winner, 1 Fields Medal winner, 2 Pulitzer Prize winner, 3 Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, 2 currently-sitting UK Supreme Court Justices, and several Olympic gold medallists. It continues to have links to the British Royal Family, having had the Duke of Edinburgh as its Chancellor from 1953 to 2010 and Princess Anne since 2011.
University of Edinburgh receives approximately 50,000 applications every year, making it the fourth most popular university in the UK by volume of applicants. After St Andrews, it is the most difficult university to gain admission into in Scotland, and 9th overall in the UK.
Rankings and reputation of the University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh is a member of the Russell Group of research-led British universities and, along with Oxford and Cambridge, one of several British universities to be a member of both the Coimbra Group and the LERU (League of European Research Universities). The University of Edinburgh is also a member of Universitas 21, an international association of research-led universities. Edinburgh was ranked 13th overall in the The Sunday Times 10-year average (1998–2007) ranking of British universities based on consistent league table performance, and is a member of the ‘Sutton 13’ of top ranked Universities in the UK.
In the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework, the Edinburgh was ranked fourth in the UK and first in Scotland. The results also indicate that the university is home to over 35% of Scotland’s research. In 2008, the RAE rated the medicine and informatics 1st in the UK. Edinburgh places within the top 10 in the UK and 2nd in Scotland for the employability of its graduates as ranked by recruiters from the UK’s major companies.
The QS World University Rankings 2015 ranked the University of Edinburgh 17th in the world. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016 ranked Edinburgh 24th in the world. In 2015, the Academic Ranking of World Universities placed Edinburgh as 47th overall and 6th in the UK.
Despite its high international rankings, the University of Edinburgh was ranked bottom in the UK for teaching quality by its students in the 2012 National Student Survey. According to The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2015, “The university is trying to address undergraduates’ concerns with a new personal tutor system and a peer support scheme. However, Edinburgh achieved an unwanted clean sweep of rock bottom rankings among universities in this year’s National Student Survey (NSS) for questions to do with the promptness, usefulness and extent of academic feedback, suggesting the university still has a long way to go to turn around a poor position”.
In the 2016 Complete University Guide, 19 out of the 50 subjects offered by Edinburgh rank within the top 10 nationally with Architecture, Chemical Engineering, East and South Asian Studies, Linguistics, Middle Eastern and African Studies, Social Policy and Veterinary Medicine occupying top 5 positions. The Times World University Rankings listed the University in 30th place worldwide for social sciences.