Top Universities in Scotland

Top Universities in Scotland

Laura Tucker

更新日期 January 16, 2020 更新日期 January 16

Home of haggis, caber-tossing and the largest annual arts festival in the world, Scotland is known for its rich history, cultural diversity, striking natural landscapes, distinctive national traditions and impenetrable local accents.

Fancy studying in the northernmost part of the UK? Here are the 11 top universities in Scotland, based on the 2020 edition of the QS World University Rankings®.

=9. Robert Gordon University

Robert Gordon University

Robert Gordon University, ranked 801-1000, was voted the best university in Scotland for graduate prospects in 2017, and is consistently considered to be one of the top universities in the UK for graduate employment by the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

The Robert Gordon University campus is located in the Garthdee, part of the south-western suburbs of the city of Aberdeen (which is currently included in the QS Best Student Cities ranking at 55th), but it also has two buildings within the city center, including the Students’ Union, meaning Robert Gordon students are very much part of the city’s vibrant life.

=9. Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow Caledonian University

A new entrant this year, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) also places in the 801-1000 range. A very young university, formed by the 1993 merger of The Queen's College, Glasgow and Glasgow Polytechnic, GCU now has about 16,450 students, including more than 2,000 from outside the UK.

GCU has been ranked first in Scotland for work experience opportunities, and 2018 figures show that 95 percent of graduates are in employment or further study six months after graduating. It’s also made great strides in sustainability, as GCU was the first Scottish university to achieve EcoCampus Platinum certification for its environmental practices.

=9. Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh Napier University is also ranked 801-1000 in the QS World University Rankings® 2020. Originally founded in 1964 as Napier Technical College (named after John Napier, the inventor of logarithms), it was granted university status in 1992.

Edinburgh Napier is made up of three campuses in Edinburgh and has a total of 19,580 students, including those studying transnational courses abroad in collaboration with universities such as City University of Hong Kong.

In 2015, the university reported that 95 percent of its undergraduates were in employment or further study within six months of graduation. Edinburgh Napier also achieves five stars for its teaching, internationalization and employability in the QS Stars rating system.

8. University of Stirling

University of Stirling

One of the younger institutions to make our list of top universities in Scotland, the University of Stirling was founded in 1967 by Royal Charter. Ranked joint 478th in the world, the university is situated just two miles outside of Stirling city center, where Stirling Castle sits atop the plug of an extinct volcano, presenting an extraordinary view from both above and below.

The city itself surrounds the castle, with the high ground known for its preserved Victorian Gothic architecture and the lower ground offering modernity and commercialism in a city that combines the best of old and new. Stirling was also rated the most affordable city in the UK in 2019.

7. Heriot-Watt University

heriot watt

Established in 1821 and located in the Scottish capital Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University is ranked joint 314th in the world alongside the University of East Anglia. Once located solely in the city center, the university completed its move to the leafy suburb of Riccarton, approximately six miles from the city center, in the 1990s.

The new campus is situated on 380 acres of parkland and boasts some of the best sports facilities in the region. Heriot-Watt has a large population of international students, with 28 percent of its 10,900 students on its UK campuses coming from abroad.

6. University of Dundee

University of Dundee

Ranked joint 302nd in the world in 2020, the University of Dundee claims to have the friendliest campus in Scotland and is situated right in the heart of Dundee city center. Many of the university’s facilities are highly modern, thanks to a recent £200 million redevelopment program.

Located on the east coast of the central lowlands of Scotland, Dundee’s industrial expansion in the 19th century led to it becoming known as the city of “jute, jam and journalism”. You may be interested to learn Dundee is known as the sunniest city in Scotland and has the mildest climate in the region.

5. University of Strathclyde

University of Strathcylde

Scotland’s third-largest university in terms of student population (with around 15,600 undergraduates alone), the University of Strathclyde is based in the city of Glasgow.

Founded in 1796 and ranked joint 296th in the world, the University of Strathclyde is known for its innovative and entrepreneurial ethos. The university now boasts a Technology and Innovation Center, which “revolutionizes the way researchers in academia and industry collaborate and innovate together” and is expected to boost both employment and investment opportunities in Glasgow.

4. University of Aberdeen

University of Aberdeen

The University of Aberdeen is ranked 194th in the world in the QS World University Rankings this year, and claims a long history, dating back to 1495.

Aberdeen is one of the most cost-effective cities for students and offers a wealth of experiences and attractions in return – including many that are free to enjoy, such as the Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Maritime Museum.

The University of Aberdeen’s main King’s College campus is located two miles north of the city center in the Old Aberdeen district, and boasts an 11-acre botanical garden and a £57 million state-of-the-art library which opened in 2012.

3. University of St Andrews

University of St Andrews

Home to around 10,735 students, the University of St Andrews was founded in 1410, making it the oldest of the four “ancient universities of Scotland”. It’s ranked 100th in the world in 2020 and 18th among the top universities in the UK.

A small university town in rural Fife on Scotland’s east coast, St Andrews is famous for its golf course as well as its university, where more than a third of the town’s population either study or work. With the university playing such a central role in local life, the community atmosphere here is hard to beat.

2. University of Glasgow

University of Glasgow

Home to Scotland’s oldest public museum and the largest Scottish university by student population, the University of Glasgow is also the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world, having been established in 1451.

Ranked 67th in the world, the University of Glasgow is located in the Hillhead neighborhood in Glasgow’s West End, an area known for fashion and cultural diversity. The city’s Victorian architecture is now modishly outfitted with trendy but down-to-earth bars and clubs which appeal to the Glaswegian sense of fun, allowing it to compete with Edinburgh for the title of Scotland’s cultural capital.

1. University of Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh

Ranked first among the top universities in Scotland at 20th in the world is the University of Edinburgh, the sixth-oldest university in the English-speaking world and a part of Scotland’s capital city since 1583.

The “old town”, where the university is based, is frozen in time with its preserved medieval street plan and reformation-era buildings. The University of Edinburgh plays a distinct role in the city’s status as both a hub of knowledge and a vibrant cultural center which nurtures fringe theater and comedy. This artistic streak then feeds into the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is held every August.

This article was originally published in January 2014. It was last updated in June 2019 to reflect the latest QS World University Rankings® results.

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本文首发于 2019 June , 更新于 2020 January 。


Laura is a former staff writer for, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.




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