Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh Napier University is a public university in Edinburgh, Scotland. Napier Technical College, the predecessor of the university was founded in 1964, taking its name from 16th-century Scottish mathematician and philosopher John Napier. The technical college was inaugurated as a University in 1992 by Lord Douglas-Hamilton, becoming Napier University. In 2009 the University was renamed Edinburgh Napier University.[4]

Edinburgh Napier University
Former names
  • Napier Technical College
  • Napier College of Science and Technology
  • Napier Polytechnic
  • Napier University
MottoLatin: Nisi sapientia frustra[1]
Motto in English
Without knowledge, everything is in vain
Established1992 – granted University status
1964 – Napier Technical College
Budget£123 million (GBP, 2015/16)[2]
ChancellorDavid Eustace
PrincipalAndrea Nolan
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students12,910 (2016/17)[3]
Undergraduates10,525 (2016/17)[3]
Postgraduates2,390 (2016/17)[3]
Universities UK
Universities Scotland

The university is based around its three main Edinburgh campuses: Merchiston, Craiglockhart and Sighthill. It has over 19,500 students, including those on-campus in Scotland and others studying on transnational programmes abroad and online.[5] In 2018 this included nearly 9,500 international and EU students, from more than 140 nations worldwide.[6]


Napier Technical College was founded in 1964, taking its name from John Napier, the inventor of logarithms and the decimal point, who was born in 1550 in the medieval tower house of Merchiston Castle (the site of the University's Merchiston campus). His statue stands in the tower of Merchiston Castle today. An opening ceremony was held on 23 February 1965.[7] In 1966, it was renamed Napier College of Science and Technology. In 1974, it merged with the Sighthill-based Edinburgh College of Commerce to form Napier College of Commerce and Technology, which became a Central Institution in 1985.

The college was renamed Napier Polytechnic in 1986 and in the same year acquired the former Hydropathic hospital buildings at Craiglockhart. In June 1992 the institution officially became Napier University. At a ceremony witnessed by over 700 staff and students, Lord James Douglas Hamilton and the then Principal, William Turmeau, unveiled the new University sign at Merchiston. In 1994, Napier University acquired its Craighouse Campus. In 1996, the university gained a new Faculty of Health Studies through a merger between the Scottish Borders College of Nursing and Lothian College of Health Studies. In February 2009 it became Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh Napier has been awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize twice. Its most recent win came in 2015, when it was recognised for its work in timber engineering, sustainable construction and wood science.[8] Edinburgh Napier was previously awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2009 when the award was made for 'Innovative housing construction for environmental benefit and quality of life'. This recognised the contribution made by the University's Building Performance Centre towards improving sound insulation between attached dwellings.

The motto of the University, Nisi sapientia frustra (meaning "Without knowledge, [all is] in vain"),[9] echoes the motto of the City of Edinburgh, Nisi Dominus frustra (meaning "Without [the] Lord, [all is] in vain").[10] Edinburgh Napier's Tartan was launched at the same time as the name change in February 2009. Previously the university used the Clan Napier Tartan; the Chief of Clan Napier welcomed the new University tartan.


The university is based around its three main campuses at Merchiston, Craiglockhart and Sighthill.

Sighthill Campus

The Sighthill Campus opened to students in the School of Health & Social Care and School of Applied Sciences in January 2011. The campus includes a five-storey learning resource centre, 25 specialised teaching rooms including clinical skills laboratories, three IT-enabled lecture theatres and seminar rooms, a clinical skills suite and integrated sports facilities. The campus has received the BREEAM excellence rating. This sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design.

The Sighthill campus is also home to a new sports facility which includes a biomechanics laboratory and an environmental chamber which can recreate high altitude conditions with controllable temperature and humidity levels to simulate varying climatic conditions. In 2016, the gym facilities at Sighthill became home to the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy Edinburgh.[11]

Craiglockhart Campus

The Craiglockhart Campus is home to The Business School. It incorporates the Craiglockhart Hydropathic Hospital buildings which were for a time known as Craiglockhart War Hospital, where First World War poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon were treated. The Craiglockhart Campus exhibits photography, writing, film and memorabilia to provide a glimpse into the minds of the poets, patients and medical staff at Craiglockhart. The exhibition also provides War Poets Collection based on the work of Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and selected contemporary poets. The exhibition was officially opened on 11 November 2005 by BBC's World Affairs Correspondent, Allan Little.[12] This campus is the home of the law and business courses and is also operates as a conference centre. The Craiglockhart Campus was extensively refurbished and extended in 2004 and contains two lecture theatres, language labs, computing facilities and an extensive library.

Merchiston Campus

The Merchiston Campus is home to the Schools of Art & Creative Industries, Computing and Engineering & the Built Environment. It is built around the refurbished shell of Merchiston Castle, the family home of John Napier, after whom the University is named. Merchiston Castle is also the ancient seat of Clan Napier. Merchiston Castle is currently a "Category A" listed building in Scotland due to its national significance.[13] The campus also includes the 500-seat, 24-hour Jack Kilby Computing Centre, named after the inventor of integrated circuits and the handheld calculator. Facilities for students include a computer game laboratory, professional music studios and in 2016, TV presenter and University alumna Lorraine Kelly officially opened a new integrated broadcast journalism newsroom.[14]

Edinburgh Napier Students' Association (ENSA) is located at the Merchiston Campus .[15]


Edinburgh Napier has student accommodation located at three sites across the city: Bainfield in Fountainbridge (opened 2014), Slateford Road (opened 2015) and Orwell Terrace (opened 2016).

Edinburgh Napier also provides assistance to students looking to rent in the private sector.

Organisation and governance

Edinburgh Napier University comprises six specialist schools:

  • School of Applied Sciences
  • School of Arts & Creative Industries
  • Business School
  • School of Computing
  • School of Engineering & the Built Environment
  • School of Health & Social Care


Edinburgh Napier University's Principal and Vice-Chancellor is Professor Andrea Nolan OBE.

The Chancellor is Edinburgh Napier alumnus David Eustace. He studied photography at the university before going on to become a renowned fashion, celebrity and art photographer. He succeeded Tim Waterstone, founder of Waterstone's Booksellers, who served from 2007 to 2015. Edinburgh Napier's first chancellor was Viscount Younger of Leckie, who died in January 2003.

Academic profile

Edinburgh Napier offers subjects including engineering, computing, nursing and midwifery, science, business courses, timber engineering and transport studies. It offers a range of creative courses, including film, graphic design, music, acting, publishing and product design.

Edinburgh Napier University is an internationally award-winning institution that has been twice recognised by the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its work in timber engineering, sustainable construction and wood science. They have also been acknowledged as the 'Top Scottish Modern University for Marketing' by the Complete University Guide 2016 and are rated "Excellent" with 3 Palmes from Eduniversal, who rank 1,000 business schools in 154 countries.[16] It is also rated five stars for teaching, internationalisation and employability by the QS Stars international university rankings.Edinburgh Napier's Business School has achieved Chartered Management Institute (CMI) certification.The Business School runs programmes in conjunction with its many overseas partners including, most recently, the Master of Science in International Hospitality and Tourism Management, with HTMi, the Hotel and Tourism Management Institute Switzerland.

Screen Academy Scotland is one of only two dual-status Skillset Film & Media Academies in the UK.[17] and is a collaboration between Edinburgh Napier University and Edinburgh College of Art (eca). Patrons of the Academy include Sir Sean Connery, Dame Judi Dench and Brian Cox, with Tilda Swinton an ambassador.


National rankings
Complete (2020)[18]86
Guardian (2020)[19]105
Times / Sunday Times (2020)[20]93=
Global rankings
QS (2020)[21]
THE (2020)[22]601-800

Edinburgh Napier is in the top five per cent of universities worldwide, according to the THE World University Rankings in 2016.[23] It is also rated five stars for teaching, internationalisation and employability by the QS Stars international university rankings.[24] In the Guardian University Guide 2017, the University was ranked top in the UK for adding value to students.[25] This score is calculated by tracking students from enrolment to graduation and compares their final degree award with their qualifications upon entry.[26]

Research and knowledge transfer

Edinburgh Napier has seven Institutes of Research and Innovation:

  • Institute for Science & Health Innovation
  • Institute for Creative Industries
  • Institute for Informatics & Digital Innovation
  • Institute for Product Design & Manufacture
  • Institute for Sustainable Construction
  • Forest Products Research Institute
  • Transport Research Institute


The Edinburgh, Lothians, Fife and Borders Regional Articulation Hub (ELRAH),[27] led by Edinburgh Napier, comprises 10 university and college partners. The project was established in early 2009 and funded by the Scottish Funding Council. Its aim is to increase the number of college students who progress from a Higher National Certificate (HNC) into year two of a university degree programme, or students with a Higher National Diploma (HND) who progress into year three of a university degree programme.

Transnational Education (TNE)

Edinburgh Napier has partnerships to deliver courses with higher education institutions around the world and is the largest UK provider of higher education in Hong Kong. TNE partnerships are currently in place with institutions in:

The university also has offices in Beijing and Hyderabad. Edinburgh Napier University works exclusively with the academic services firm Stafford Associates[28][29] to promote and recruit students for the Global Online suite of degree programmes in the Middle East.

Student life

Edinburgh Napier University's students' union is Edinburgh Napier Students' Association. The current Student President is Jon Fraser.[30]

Following a student referendum in 2014, the association changed its name from Napier Students' Association (NSA) to Edinburgh Napier Students' Association (ENSA).

The Students' Association is a fully constituted, independent association providing student representation and confidential welfare advice, as well as supporting a variety of sporting and cultural societies, under the banner 'Team Napier'.

The Union Bar is located above the Three Sisters bar in the Cowgate, Edinburgh.

The student newspaper, Veritas, is no longer published. It was founded as a tabloid newspaper in 1993 by Neil McIntosh. Past Veritas editors include Craig McGill, Alan 'GtB' Brown, Robin Wynn and Gareth Mackie. Students now receive a monthly newsletter via email instead.

As an Edinburgh Napier student, the opportunity is presented to apply for paid employment as a Student Ambassador on a zero-hour contract as long as the student has at least one year left on their degree.

Edinburgh Napier University notable people






See also


  1. "The Napier Estate: past and present" (PDF). Napier University. 2007. p. 28. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  2. Napier University. "Edinburgh Napier University Accounts for the Year to 31 July 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  3. "2016/17 Students by HE provider, level, mode and domicile" (CSV). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  4. "Our history". Napier. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  5. "Facts & Figures". Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  6. "Edinburgh Napier University Corporate Key Facts".
  7. "Technical Education a National Asset". The Glasgow Herald. 24 February 1965. p. 5. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  8. "Napier University honoured with Queen's Anniversary Prize". www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  9. "Wayback Machine" (PDF). web.archive.org. 7 February 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  10. Council, The City of Edinburgh. "Download a description of the Council's Coat of Arms (PDF, 100KB) | The City of Edinburgh Council". www.edinburgh.gov.uk. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  11. "BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy | Scottish Rugby Union". www.scottishrugby.org. Archived from the original on 28 October 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  12. War Poets Collection Craiglockhart Campus. http://www2.napier.ac.uk/warpoets/index.htm
  13. "COLINTON ROAD MERCHISTON CASTLE NOW PART OF NAPIER UNIVERSITY LB26828". Historic Environment Scotland. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  14. "TV star back at university for grilling from students". STV News. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  15. "Where is ENSA based?". Edinburgh Napier Students' Association (ENSA). Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  16. "Edinburgh Napier University-Queen's Anniversary Prize". Stafford Global.
  17. http://courses.skillset.org/pick_the_tick/skillset_academy_network/skillset_film_academies
  18. "University League Table 2020". The Complete University Guide. 1 May 2019.
  19. "University league tables 2020". The Guardian. 7 June 2019.
  20. "The Times and Sunday Times University Good University Guide 2020". Times Newspapers.
  21. "QS World University Rankings 2020". Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd.
  22. "World University Rankings 2020". Times Higher Education.
  23. "Edinburgh Napier University". Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  24. "Edinburgh Napier University". Top Universities. 16 July 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  25. "University guide 2017: Edinburgh Napier University". The Guardian. 24 May 2015. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  26. Hiely-Rayner, Matt (23 May 2016). "Methodology behind the Guardian University Guide 2017". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  27. "Home ELRAH". www.elrah.ac.uk. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  28. "Edinburgh Napier University - Best Business Universities - Online MBA". www.staffordglobal.org.
  29. "Online". Napier.
  30. "Executive Committee - Edinburgh Napier Students' Association". www.napierstudents.com. Retrieved 22 October 2018.

Further reading

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