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University of Glasgow
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University of Glasgow

The University of Glasgow is the largest of the three universities in Glasgow, Scotland. It was founded in 1451 as a School of Divinity and was part of the city's cathedral. Its founding came about as a result of King James II wish that Scotland have two Universities to equal Oxford and Cambridge of England. It is the second oldest university in Scotland (the 4th oldest in the United Kingdom), the oldest being the University of St Andrews (founded in 1413). The Universities of St Andrews, Glasgow and Aberdeen are ecclesiastical foundations, while Edinburgh is a city foundation.

Glasgow has enjoyed a (usually friendly) rivalry with St Andrews since its creation, and with Edinburgh University since its foundation in 1583. Of all the universities and tertiary education establishments in Scotland, only Glasgow and Edinburgh offer a complete range of professional studies including law, medicine, dentistry, and engineering, combined with a comprehensive range of academic studies including science, social science, ancient and modern languages, literature, and history.

In 2003 the university had around 17,000 students and 4,500 members of staff. Over 3,600 of these are postgraduate students, while around 2,600 are foreign students.

Table of contents
1 Facilities
2 Faculty
3 Students
4 Alumni
5 External link


The university's initial accommodations were part of the complex of religious buildings in the precincts of Glasgow Cathedral. This coexistence became increasingly uneasy with time, particularly following the protestant reformation, after which Glasgow became a predominantly dissenting city. In the 17th century this, combined with the university's growth and the broadening and secularisation of its curriculum, led it to establish its own two-quadrangled building outside the cathedral precincts, on the nearby medieval High Street.

Over the following centuries, the university's size and scope continued to expand. It was a centre of the Scottish Enlightenment and subsequently of the industrial revolution, and its expansion in the High Street was constrained by the density of the burgeoning mercantile district.

Consequently in 1870, it moved to a (then a greenfield site) on the Gilmorehill in the West End of the city (around three miles west of its prior location), enclosed by a large loop of the River Kelvin. Its accommodations there were a number of custom-made buildings, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the Gothic revival style. The largest of these (now called "The Hunterian Buildings") echoed (in a far grander scale) the High Street campus' twin quadrangle layout. Between the two quadrangles Scott built an open cloister, above which are his grand Bute Hall (used for examinations and graduation ceremonies), and the buildings' signature Gothic bell tower. The sandstone cladding and Gothic design of the buildings' exterior belie the modernity of its Victorian construction — Scott's building is hung on a (then cutting-edge) riveted iron frame, with a lightweight wooden-beam roof.

Even these enlarged premises could not contain the ever-growing university, which quickly spread across much of Gilmorehill. The 1930s saw the construction of the award-winning round reading room (it is now a grade-A listed building) and an aggressive programme of house purchases, in which the university (fearing the surrounding district of Hillhead was running out of suitable building land) acquired several terraces of Victorian houses and joined them together internally. The departments of Psychology, Computing Science, and Eastern European Languages continue to be housed in these terraces.

More buildings were built beside the main buildings, filling the land between University Avenue and the river with natural science buildings and the faculty of medicine. The medical school spread into neighbouring Partick and joined with the Western General Infirmary. The growth and prosperity of the city, which had forced the university's relocation to Hillhead, again proved problematic when more real estate was required. The school of veterinary medicine, which was founded in 1862, moved to a new campus in the leafy suburb of Garscube in 1954. The university later moved its sports ground and associated facilities to Anniesland (around two miles west of the main campus) and built student halls of residence in both Anniesland and Maryhill.

The growth of tertiary education from the 1960s led the university to build numerous modern buildings across the hill, including several brutalist concrete blocks: the Maclaurin building (housing the department of mathematics, named after university graduate Colin Maclaurin); the Boyd Orr building (a squat grey concrete tower housing lecture rooms and laboratories); and the Adam Smith building (housing the social science faculty, named after university graduate Adam Smith). Other additions around this time, including the glass-lined library tower and the amber-brick geology building were more in keeping with the Gilmorehill's leafy suburban architecture. Interestingly, the erection of these buildings around 1968 also involved the demolition of a large number of houses in Ashton Road, and rerouting the west end of University Avenue to its current position.

The university's newest campus opened in the borders town of Dumfries. The Crichton campus, designed to meet the needs for tertiary education in an area far from major concentrations of population, is jointly operated by the University of Glasgow, the University of Paisley, Bell College, and the Open University. It offers a modular curriculum, leading to one of a small number of liberal arts degrees.

In November 2001 the century-old Bower Building (home to the university's biology department and biological museum) was gutted by fire. Manuscripts by naturalist Charles Darwin, together with a large number of samples obtained on his expeditions, were destroyed.

The Wolfson Medical School Building, with its award-winning glass-fronted atrium, opened in 2002 [1].


The Veterinary School is perhaps Glasgow's most famous Faculty, having wrought the personalities of James Herriot (aka Alf Wight), Eddie Straiton ("The TV Vet"), Sir William Weipers, among many others and has the distinction of having its degree recognised not only by the UK, but also the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, as well as most other countries in the world, an honour shared by only a handful of other institutions.

The Medical Faculty is also one of Glasgow's greatest strengths. Traditionally considered one of the top schools in the UK, it placed first in The Times' 2004 ranking of UK university medical departments.


Famous scholars associated with the university include Lord Kelvin, Adam Smith, James Watt, John Logie Baird, Colin Maclaurin, and Joseph Lister. Theologian Francis Hutcheson studied at Glasgow, and protestant reformer John Knox may also have done so. In more recent times, the university boasts of having Europe's largest collection of life scientists.

Unlike the majority of Scotland's universities, the student body at the University of Glasgow are not members of the National Union of Students Scotland. Neither does their representative body take the form of a Students' Association, as it does at the other Scottish universities. However every student is automatically a member of the Glasgow University Students' Representative Council (SRC) and they have the right to stand for election to this body and elect its members. The President of the SRC along with one other SRC member sits on the university's court (the overall management and disciplinary body of the university) and a number of SRC members sit of the university's senate (the body that directs the academic affairs of the university). Each student has the right to opt out of being a SRC member, although this rarely happens.

Students also elect a Rector who holds office for a three year term and is legally entitled to chair the university court. This position is in practice largely an honourary and ceremonial one, and has been held by political figures including William Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli, Andrew Bonar Law, Robert Peel, Raymond Poincaré, Arthur Balfour, and 1970s union activist Jimmy Reid, and latterly by celebrities such as TV presenters Arthur Montford and Johnny Ball, musician Pat Kane, and actors Richard Wilson and Ross Kemp. In the past few Rectors have actually been present to perform the duties of their office, although in modern years there has been a trend to elect people on the expectation that they will be a working rector. Ross Kemp was asked to resign by the SRC (which he did) for what they felt was a failure to act as a working rector.

Students can also be members of one of the university's two student unions, Glasgow University Union (GUU) and the Queen Margaret Union (QMU). These are largely social institutions, providing their members with facilities for dining, recreation, socialising, and drinking, and both have a number of meeting rooms available for rental to members. Automatic Joint Student Membership, an iniative to be introduced for the 2004/2005 session, will see all matriculated students automatically become a member of both unions, as opposed to the current restriction, barring students from holding membership of both unions.






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