The University of Edinburgh is located right on the edge of the Royal Mile, a stretch of road that goes from Edinburgh Castle, perched on Castle Rock with a chapel that dates from early 12th century, all the way down to the 16th century Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s home in Scotland, and the Scottish Parliament, a unique architectural design completed in 2007. This blend of time periods and genres is an appropriate setting for a university of 18 000 undergraduate students that also blends tradition with forward thinking, and the contemporary with the ancient.
Although the “new” academic buildings on campus aren’t much to write home about, the historic buildings are updated and outfitted with all the modern resources and continue to be active teaching, learning, and living spaces. Given that the university was founded in 1583, there has been a considerable amount of modernization to be done! But the setting is lovely, very central to the old part of the city, easily accessible to the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh, and also at the base of the green space around Arthur’s Seat.
The university offers 600 different undergrad degree choices in 119 academic disciplines and has a strong history of education in medicine. Other professional programmes that are direct entry options for Grade 12 students include veterinary medicine (with brand new facilities), architecture, law, and engineering. The university also supports one of the biggest career service offices in the UK with specialized teams for different areas of study, especially in the professional programme areas, and dedicated staff for international students looking to find work after graduation.
There are a wide variety of choices in terms of residence, both on campus and in scattered around the city, and most of the international students stay in the halls for at least the first year. The ones I saw and stayed in at the Pollack Halls complex (the only fully catered facility) were a 10 minute walk from the main campus and offered a good amount storage space, common rooms, kitchens, and boasted good support from resident advisors (RA’s) who live in the halls. (RA’s get 75% off their accommodation costs and students can apply to do this after first year.) It looked and felt much like a Canadian university dorm setting.
On the athletic front, there is a new athletic centre with a climbing wall and an outdoor education centre just outside of the city. They vet medicine facilities are close to the Edinburgh “ski slope” – a 400 yard dash down a hill covered in bristle-like artificial turf. I was hard pressed to keep a straight face when people talked about learning to ski on this hill while I thought of Mt. Washington and its five meters of snow!
I came away with a strong sense of the university’s commitment to sustainability and student services, especially in terms of supporting those who are the farthest away from home. With 60% chance of offer as an international student applicant for business, humanities, engineering, and science courses, Edinburgh might just be a great option for you.