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Ancient universities of Scotland

Ancient universities of Scotland

The ancient universities of Scotland are medieval and renaissance universities which continue to exist until the present day. The majority of the ancient universities of the British Isles are located within Scotland, and have a number of distinctive features in common, being governed by a series of measures laid down in the Universities (Scotland) Acts 1858-1966. The Universities (Scotland) Act 1966 uses the term 'older universities' to refer to St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.[1] The same act provided for the independence from St Andrews of Dundee, which was then granted a similar form of governance under its royal charter. In common with the other ancient universities of the United Kingdom, the Scottish ancients find themselves administered in a quite different fashion from these new universities (of which there are now ten in Scotland) and are granted a number of privileges as a result of their status.

Order of foundation
The currently existing ancient universities of Scotland are, in order of foundation: University of St Andrews founded 1413 (incorporating the University of Dundee for most of its history until 1967) University of Glasgow founded 1451 University of Aberdeen founded 1495 (see below) University of Edinburgh founded 1583 Following the creation of the ancient universities before the end of the 16th century, no other universities were formed in Scotland until the 20th century. The first 'new university' of the era (see: plate glass university) was the University of Strathclyde, chartered in 1964 but having existed in various forms as an academic institution since 1796.[2]

Former and created universities and colleges

Despite being held as an ancient university, the University of Aberdeen was only created in 1860. The university was formed by the amalgamation of two existing ancient universities within Aberdeen, which were: University and Kings College of Aberdeen; founded 1495 Marischal College and University of Aberdeen; founded 1593 The two universities, generally known simply as King's College and Marischal College, were united into the modern University of Aberdeen by the Universities (Scotland) Act 1858. The Act of Parliament uniting the two universities specified that the date of the foundation of the new united university would be taken to be that of the older King's College, viz 1495. Another, short lived, university existed in the Aberdeenshire town of Fraserburgh from 1595 to 1605.[3] [4] All of the ancient universities, with the exception of St Andrews, were both simultaneously universities and colleges, with both titles being used.[5] The University of St Andrews was, however, a traditional
Marischal College, a former ancient university now part of the University of Aberdeen.

collegiate university with a number of colleges. Today, only two statutory colleges exist: United College and the much smaller St Mary's College for students of theology - a third non-statutory college, St Leonard's College was

Ancient universities of Scotland founded in 1972 using the name of an earlier institution as a formal grouping of postgraduate students. Queen's College at St Andrews (incorporated into the university from an earlier institution in 1897) became an independent university, the University of Dundee, in 1967. In modern times, former college names may refer to specific university buildings, such as the King's College and Marischal College buildings in Aberdeen, the Old College and New College at Edinburgh and the 'Old College' to refer to the former buildings of the University of Glasgow before its move in the 19th century to Gilmorehill.[6]

St Andrews
The University of St Andrews owed its origin to a society formed in 1410 by Laurence of Lindores, archdeacon Richard Cornwall, bishop William Stephenson and others. Bishop Henry Wardlaw (died 1440) issued a charter in 1411 and attracted the most learned men in Scotland as professors. In 1413 Avignon Pope Benedict XIII issued six bulls confirming the charter and constituting the society a university. University College Dundee (founded in 1891) was absorbed into St Andrews University (1897), subsequently metamorphosing into Queen's College (1954). The University of Dundee separated off from the University of St Andrews in 1967.

St Salvator's Chapel, St Andrews

Today St Andrew's University has around 8,500 students and just over 800 academic staff. The independent IpsosMORI National Student Survey 2006 commissioned by HEFCE placed it third among the UK universities.[7] St Andrews reported the highest student satisfaction overall in Scotland for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.[8] Nearly eight in ten graduates obtain a First Class or an Upper Second Class Honours degree. Entry to the University is highly competitive; the latest UCAS figures show that there are generally twelve applications for every place available, and the University has not entered Clearing since 2003.

Ancient universities of Scotland

The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451 by a papal bull of Pope Nicholas V, at the request of King James II, giving Bishop William Turnbull permission to add the university to the city's cathedral.[9] Its founding came about as a result of King James II's wish that Scotland have two Universities, to equal Oxford and Cambridge of England. Today Glasgow University now boasts almost 24,000 students with 40% coming from the West of Scotland. Both the University's teaching quality and income from annual research contracts are assessed The Main Building of the University of Glasgow, from Kelvingrove Park to be among the top 10 in the United Kingdom. The Times University ranking list places Glasgow third amongst Scottish universites after St. Andews and Edinburgh.[10] There are currently over eight applications for every one place, (194,000 applications 2002-2007. 37,700 in 2007 alone) making it one of the most competitive Universities in the UK to obtain entry.

No college is mentioned in the foundation bull, only a university and it was the "University of Aberdeen" by that name which was established in 1495. Subsequently a single college, originally known as St. Mary of the Nativity, was established (it was founded by William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen, who drafted a request on behalf of King James IV to Pope Alexander VI which resulted in a papal bull being issued). Soon the entity came to be called King's College, after its royal founder James IV. A separate university (Marischal College) was founded in 1593. In 1860, King's merged with Marischal College, which itself had been founded in 1593. While both institutions were universities, and would be considered ancient, the Act of Parliament uniting the two specified that the date of the foundation of the new united university would be taken to be that of the older King's College. Aberdeen was highly unusual at the time for having two universities in one city. As late-20th century University of Aberdeen prospectuses wryly observed, this was the same number as existed in all of England at the time. Today Aberdeen University has almost 14,000 students and over 700 staff.
King's College, Aberdeen

Ancient universities of Scotland

The founding of the University is attributed to Bishop Robert Reid of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney, who left the funds on his death in 1558 that ultimately provided the University's endowment. The University was established by a Royal Charter granted by James VI in 1582. As the first to be founded by Royal Charter at the urging of the "town council and burges of Edinburgh" some student groups at the other Scottish Ancient Universities deny Edinburgh is worthy of that title, usually stating the reasoning of "post reformation" Today Edinburgh University has over 25,000 students, more than any other in Scotland. In 2006 The Times Higher Education Supplement ranked the University of Edinburgh 5th in the UK, 5th in Europe and 23rd in the world.[11]

The University of Edinburgh's Robert Adam-designed Old College building, home of its Law School

The University of Dundee was established as an independent institution by Royal Charter in 1967, but has a long history going back well into the 19th century. For most of its existence, Dundee formed a fully incorporated college of the University of St Andrews, known as University College Dundee and Queen's College at various periods. By virtue of its descent through St Andrews, Dundee shares all organisational features in common with the other ancient universities of Scotland, such as awarding the undergraduate MA degree and electing a Rector. Upon attaining its independence from St Andrews, Dundee also gained a number of significant schools from its parent university, including law, dentistry and the main medical school.

The University of Dundee's Harris Building and Geddes Quadrangle

As a result, the University of Dundee is usually considered alongside the ancient universities, particularly those in a Scottish context. In 2008 the University of Dundee had almost 18,000 students.[12]

Ancient universities of Scotland

Undergraduate Master of Arts degree

The ancient universities are distinctive in offering the Magister Artium/Master of Arts (M.A.) as an undergraduate academic degree. This is sometimes known as the Scottish MA, despite being offered by fewer than a third of Scotland's Universities.

Universities (Scotland) Acts

The Universities (Scotland) Acts created a distinctive system of governance for the ancient universities in Scotland, the process beginning with the 1858 Act and ending with the 1966 Act. Despite not being founded until after the first in these series of Acts, the University of Dundee shares all the features contained therein. As a result of these Acts, each of these universities is governed by a tripartite system of General Council, University Court, and Academic Senate. The chief executive and chief academic is the University Principal who also holds the title of Vice-Chancellor as an honorific. The Chancellor is a titular non-resident head to each university and is elected for life by the respective General Council, although in actuality a good number of Chancellors resign before the end of their "term of office". Each also has a Students' Representative Council (SRC) as required by statute, although at the University of Aberdeen this has recently been renamed, the Students' Association Council (the Students' Association having been the parent body of the SRC).[13]

[1] s.16 [2] The History Of Strathclyde - University of Strathclyde (http:/ / www. strath. ac. uk/ about/ thehistoryofstrathclyde/ ) [3] http:/ / www. scottish-places. info/ towns/ towndetails173. html [4] http:/ / www. archive. org/ stream/ fastiacademiaema01univuoft/ fastiacademiaema01univuoft_djvu. txt [5] http:/ / www. philosophy. ed. ac. uk/ about/ ; http:/ / www. nls. uk/ slezer/ engraving. cfm?sl=18 [6] http:/ / www. scran. ac. uk/ database/ record. php?usi=000-000-516-519-C [7] The Guardian (London). http:/ / education. guardian. co. uk/ students/ table/ 0,,1857547,00. html. [8] "Student satisfaction rate stalls at 82%, survey finds" (http:/ / www. bbc. co. uk/ news/ education-11001891). BBC News. 2010-08-18. . [9] University of Glasgow - Who, Where and When (http:/ / www. archives. gla. ac. uk/ about/ publish/ histcon. pdf), retrieved 22nd April 2006 [10] Frean, Alexandra (2008-06-18). "Official the best universities in the UK" (http:/ / www. timesonline. co. uk/ tol/ life_and_style/ education/ good_university_guide/ article4165690. ece). The Times (London). . Retrieved 2010-04-23. [11] http:/ / www. paked. net/ higher_education/ rankings/ times_rankings. htm [12] (http:/ / www. somis. dundee. ac. uk/ registry/ main/ statistics/ 20089/ stnos. html) [13] "University of Aberdeen Students' Association Constitution" (http:/ / www. ausa. org. uk/ about/ constitution). . Retrieved 2007-04-21.

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