The University of Glasgow dates from the middle of the fifteenth century, a time of critical change in Europe.
In 1451, the Scottish King James II persuaded Pope Nicholas V to grant a bull authorising Bishop Turnbull of Glasgow to set up a university. Thus, 40 years after the creation of St. Andrew's University, Scotland, like England, could boast two universities. Modelled on the University of Bologna, Glasgow was, and has remained, a University in the great European tradition.
Initially, the young institution operated from Glasgow Cathedral and temporary accommodation nearby but in 1460 it was given property by Lord Hamilton on the east side of the High Street immediately north of Blackfriars which remained its home until 1870. In the seventeenth century, as the intellectual activity foreshadowing the Enlightenment took root, the University replaced the Hamilton buildings and created one of the finest buildings of the period in Scotland and which was described by contemporaries as 'the chief ornament of the city'. This building was known as the Old College.
The University played its distinguished part in the Enlightenment and in fostering the research and inquiry which prepared the ground for the Industrial Revolution in which the city of Glasgow was to play a world role. Ironically it was the encroaching overcrowding and squalor of factories and railways, fruits of the industrial expansion it had helped to shape, which forced the University to move to its present site in what was then suburban Gilmorehill, a location it has occupied since 1870. Here the University celebrated its 550th anniversary in 2001.
Today, the University of Glasgow is one of the UK's leading universities with an international reputation for its research and teaching and an important role in the cultural and commercial life of the country.
With almost 16,000 undergraduate and 4,000 postgraduate students, it is one of the country's largest universities. Employing 5,700 staff, it is a major employer in the city and, with an annual turnover of £285M, it makes a substantial contribution to the local economy.
Firmly rooted in the West of Scotland from where it recruits 50% of its students, the University of Glasgow is nevertheless an international institution, attracting students from 80 countries and sending large numbers of students on study periods abroad. Today's research projects are typically international, with academics from every continent working in Glasgow while the University's own staff make valued contributions to collaborative work with some 200 institutions around the world.
Most of the University's 100 departments are to be found on the Gilmorehill campus, centred on Sir George Gilbert Scott's neo-Gothic main building. Its spire, added by his son John Oldrid Scott, is a landmark across the city. Glasgow's campus has more listed buildings than any other and reflects a vast range of styles. Pearce Lodge and the Lion and Unicorn Staircase are relics of the old University, moved stone by stone to the new site. The circular Reading Room is a listed building from the 1930s while the Library, Boyd Orr and Adam Smith Buildings reflect post-war fashions in public building design. The new Wolfson Medical School Building, which provides state-of-the-art facilities for medical students and staff, was opened in 2003.
The University Veterinary School is located three miles away at the Garscube Campus which is also home to the new outdoor sports facilities. The University's Crichton Campus is located on the outskirts of Dumfries, in South West Scotland.
The University is a member of the Russell Group of major research-led universities and a founder member of Universitas 21, an international grouping of universities dedicated to setting world-wide standards for higher education.