Heriot-Watt University

From Academic Kids

Heriot-Watt University is the eighth oldest higher education institution in the United Kingdom, although it only received its university charter in 1966. Originally based in the centre of Edinburgh, the main campus is now outside the city, with a satellite campus at Galashiels in the Scottish Borders (formerly the Scottish College of Textiles).

History

The institution that became Heriot-Watt University began with a conversation between the Edinburgh businessmen Leonard Horner and Robert Bryson about the lack of technical education for the working classes. This led to the opening of the "School of Arts of Edinburgh for the Education of Mechanics in Such Branches of Physical Science as are of Practical Application in their several trades" in October 1821.

In 1852 the name of the school was changed to the "Watt Institution and School of Arts", in memory of James Watt. In 1869 women were permitted to attend classes, making Heriot-Watt a pioneer in equal opportunities in education.

During the 1870s a new building on Chambers Street was constructed, causing the institution severe financial difficulties that were resolved by merging with George Heriot's Hospital for needy orphans. At this point the name was changed to Heriot-Watt College.

The college continued to expand throughout the 20th century, developing a reputation in the fields of science and engineering, and became a university in 1966, following the recommendations of the Robbins Report.

In 1969 the former Gibson-Craig estate at Riccarton, 7 miles (11 km) to the south-west of Edinburgh, was gifted to the University and was purchased for one pence. Between 1971 and 1992 the University moved to a purpose-built campus on this site, however situated within a city green-belt, buildings on the campus cannot be greater than 4.

The Edinburgh Business School, a component of Heriot-Watt, boasts one of the world's largest Masters of Business Administration programs, offered on-campus or around the world by distance education, and assessed by rigorous subject exams. A Doctor of Business Administration program, along similar lines but also containing a major research component, has recently been introduced.

Trivia

  • Heriot-Watt is known as "Hairy Twat" by students at some of the other Scottish Universities.
  • Campus legend has it that the strange basement area now occupied by the photocopy centre was originally intended to be a station for a proposed Edinburgh underground railway.

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