The University of Aberdeen is Scotland’s third oldest university, and the UK’s fifth. It was formed in the merging of two colleges, King’s and Marischal, in 1860.
King’s College was founded in 1495 by William Elphinstone, the then Bishop of Aberdeen, who used the great European universities of Paris and Bologna as his model.
With just 36 staff and students when it first opened, King’s was dedicated to training teachers, doctors, lawyers and the clergy who would serve northern Scotland and the Scottish monarchy. It offered studies in arts, theology and the law, and its position of chair of medicine, established in 1497, was the first to be created in the English-speaking world.
Marischal College meanwhile was opened in 1593, in the New Town of Aberdeen, by the fourth Earl Marischal.
The two colleges merged and for a time King’s focused on arts and divinity while Marischal focused on law and medicine.
The first women were admitted as students in 1894, with four women graduating in arts in 1898. By 1899, women were a quarter of their faculty.
Current students of the university number around 14,000 and prominent alumni include former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, former Cabinet Office Minister Tessa Jowell, two judges of the supreme court of Scotland and a number of university vice-chancellors.
Health and healthcare have long been a research priority for Aberdeen, with the region boasting the highest concentration of health and life scientists in Europe. In 2002, a new Institute for Medical Sciences was opened followed by a new Health Sciences building in 2006, while the Suttie Centre for Teaching and Learning in Healthcare, a £20m training facility, opened in 2009.
The university also opened a new £57 million library, the Sir Duncan Rice in Old Aberdeen, in 2012, and in 2014 an aquatic centre with an Olympic-standard swimming pool.