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There are currently fifteen universities in Scotland and three other institutions of higher education which have the authority to award academic degrees. All Scottish universities have the power to award degrees at all levels: undergraduate, taught postgraduate, and doctoral. Scotland's oldest university is the University of St. Andrews (founded in 1413) and the newest is the University of the Highlands and Islands, which achieved full university status in 2011. Education in Scotland is controlled by the Scottish Government under the terms of the Scotland Act 1998. The minister responsible for higher education is the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, currently Mike Russell MSP of the Scottish National Party. University status in Scotland and throughout the United Kingdom today is conferred by the Privy Council which takes advice from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Scottish universities award degrees and conduct research in almost every conceivable academic, scientific and professional discipline.
In the 2011-12 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, five Scottish universities are among the top 200 worldwide: University of Edinburgh (at 36), University of St. Andrews (at 85), University of Glasgow (at 102), University of Aberdeen (at 151), and the University of Dundee (at 176).
All Scottish universities are public universities and funded by the Scottish Government (through its Scottish Funding Council) and financial support is provided for Scottish-domiciled students by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland. Students ordinarily resident in Scotland or the European Union do not pay tuition fees for their first undergraduate degree, but tuition fees are charged for those from the rest of the United Kingdom. All students are required to pay tuition fees for postgraduate education (e.g. MSc, PhD), except in certain priority areas funded by the Scottish Government, or if another source of funding can be found (e.g. research council studentship for a PhD). A representative body called Universities Scotland works to promote Scotland's universities, as well as six other higher education institutions.
In 2008-2009, approximately 231,000 students studied at universities or institutes of higher education in Scotland, of which 56% were female and 44% male, with 75% being domiciled in Scotland, 12% from the rest of the United Kingdom, and the remainder international students. Of all these, approximately 130,000 were studying for their first degree (i.e. undergraduate level), 42,000 for a taught postgraduate degree (primarily a Masters degree) and 10,000 for a doctoral research degree (primarily PhD). The remainder were mostly on other programmes such as Higher National Diploma. Of all these, 16,000 were studying in Scotland with the The Open University via distance-learning, and the Open University teaches 40% of Scotland's part-time undergraduates.
The higher education system in Scotland is similar to that of the rest of the UK but has slight differences. Undergraduate degrees may awarded "with honours" (four years of study), or without honours and referred to as "designated" or "general" degrees (three years of study). Undergraduate degrees in arts and social sciences are awarded as Master of Arts (M.A.)at the ancient universities, i.e. those founded before 1600, but the level is comparable to a Bachelors degree in other countries. Newer institutions award the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) instead. Science degrees are usually awarded as Bachelor of Science (BSc), while Bachelors degrees are also available in other disciplines such as law (LLB), medicine (MBChB), education (BEd) and nursing (BN). Masters degrees are awarded in a wide range of disciplines following one (or occasionally two) years of study, such as Master of Science (MSc) for scientific and social science disciplines, Master of Letters (MLitt) for arts disciplines, and others such as Master of Business Administration (MBA). Doctoral degrees are awarded by research as Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), or by a taught programme in a professional discipline such as Doctor of Psychology (DPsych or DClinPsych) or Doctor of Education (EdD). Doctoral degrees require three (or occasionally four) years of study.
The University of St Andrews was established in 1413, with the universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen also dating back to the 15th century. These "ancient universities" were established by Papal bulls, but in the 16th century the royal charter became the standard method of foundation. The first of these established the University of Edinburgh, which became Scotland's fourth university while England had only two. The number of universities doubled during the 1960s, with some existing colleges gaining university status and the University of Stirling was planned and established as Scotland's only plate glass university. Several former central institutions (comparable to the polytechnics in other parts of the UK) also became universities in the 1990s following the reforms of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.
|University||Image||Location||Year of foundation||Year of royal charter||Motto||Notes|
|University of St Andrews||St Andrews, Fife||1410||1413 ||ΑΙΕΝ ΑΡΙΣΤΕΥΕΙΝ|
Ever to be the best
|University status conferred on 28 August 1413 by a papal bull of Pope Benedict XIII |
|University of Glasgow||Glasgow||1451||1451 ||Via, Veritas, Vita|
The way, the truth, and the life
|University status conferred on 7 January 1451 by a papal bull of Pope Nicholas V |
|University of Aberdeen||Aberdeen||1495||1860||Initium sapientiae timor domini|
The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord
|University of Edinburgh||Edinburgh||1582||1583||Established as the "Tounis College" in 1583, after James VI of Scotland granted the Edinburgh Town Council a royal charter to establish a college on April 14, 1582.|
|University of Strathclyde||Glasgow||1796||1964||The Place of Useful Learning||Granted University Status by Royal Charter in 1964, although the precursor Anderson Institute can be traced back to 1796 and the name Anderson's University was used between 1828 and 1887.|
|Heriot-Watt University||Edinburgh||1821||1966||First established 1821 as the School of Arts of Edinburgh|
|University of Dundee||Dundee||1881||1967||Magnificat Anima Mea Dominum|
My soul glorifies the Lord
|First established 1881 as a college of the University of St Andrews, known first as University College, then Queen's College, until establishment as an independent university in 1967|
|University of Stirling||Stirling||1967||1967||Innovation and Excellence||Planned as part of the Robbins Report of 1963, and constructed at a greenfield site on the estate of Airthrey Castle.|
|Edinburgh Napier University||Edinburgh||1964||1992||Nisi Sapientia Frustra|
Without knowledge all is in vain
|First established 1964 as Napier Technical College|
|The Robert Gordon University||Aberdeen||1750||1992||Omni Nunc Arte Magistra|
Now by all your mastered arts
|First established 1750 as Robert Gordon's Hospital|
|Glasgow Caledonian University||Glasgow||1875||1993||For the Common Weal|
For the common good
|The University traces its origin to The Queen's College, Glasgow (founded 1875) and the Glasgow Polytechnic (founded 1971)|
|University of Abertay Dundee||Dundee||1888||1994||First established in 1888 as Dundee College of Technology|
|Queen Margaret University||Musselburgh, East Lothian||1875||2007||First established 1875 as The Edinburgh School of Cookery and Domestic Economy|
|University of the West of Scotland||Paisley, Hamilton, Dumfries and Ayr||1836||2007||Success Takes Know How: Together We've Got It||First established 1836 as a School of Arts, then in 1992 as the University of Paisley, and re-formed in 2007 following a merger with Bell College.|
|University of the Highlands and Islands||Highlands,|
and Northern Isles
|2001||2011||A federation of colleges, planned from 1992 onwards and first established in 2001 as the UHI Millennium Institute and awarded full university status in February 2011. The central administration and largest college is in Inverness.|