Heriot-Watt University

About this institution...

Heriot-Watt is a global university with strong, abiding links across Europe and the rest of the world.

In 1821, Edinburgh was at the heart of the Scottish Enlightenment which viewed education as a means to moral and material self-improvement and a way to tackle the challenges of the industrial revolution.

Leonard Horner, a linen merchant and social reformer, came up with the idea of providing evening classes for fees that working men could afford. With the financial backing from influential Edinburgh citizens, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Cockburn, judge and conservationist and the Craig family of Riccarton, The Edinburgh School of Arts - the first Mechanics Institute in the UK, was established.

In 1852 The Edinburgh School of Arts changed its name to become the Watt Institution and School of Arts, in honour of the great Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer and chemist, James Watt, inventor of the steam engine. George Heriot was a 16th century philanthropist and financier to King James. In 1855, the institution became Heriot-Watt College and in 1966 Heriot-Watt University was established by Royal Charter.

A focus on the practical application of knowledge and learning for the betterment of society is an essential characteristic of Heriot-Watt University. Throughout the early and mid-1900s the academic curriculum of the college developed with a strong emphasis on the needs of industry. A snapshot of this includes:

• The Department of Mining established in 1913 due to demand from the coal industry

• Programmes in Physical Chemistry, Fuel Science, Metallurgy and Intermediates introduced in 1919

• The Department of Building established in 1934 to provide tuition up to Associateship standard

• Brewing given departmental status in 1950 and the introduction of classes in Management Studies

• A new Associateship programme in Civil Engineering introduced in 1953.

Heriot-Watt were the first British university to set up in Dubai International Academic city in 2005. The reputation for world-class teaching and research, with strong links to industry, has made Heriot-Watt the biggest and fastest growing campus in the UAE with over 3,000 students. In 2014, a £35 million purpose-built campus was opened in Malaysia. This is the first green campus in the country and the first university in Putrajaya, the government capital of Malaysia.


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