Glasgow Caledonian University

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Glasgow Caledonian University
Glasgow Caledonian University's Coat of Arms.jpg
Motto For the Common Weal
Established 1993 (1875)
Type Public University
Chancellor Muhammad Yunus
Principal Pamela Gillies
Admin. staff 1,500
Students 18,410 [1]
Undergraduates 15,135 [1]
Postgraduates 3,275 [1]
Location Glasgow, Scotland
Affiliations EUA, University Alliance, Association of Commonwealth Universities, Universities UK, Universities Scotland, Florence Network, Talloires Network, Erasmus Programme, Santander Universities Network
Website http://www.gcu.ac.uk/
GCUlogo 251px.jpg

Glasgow Caledonian University (informally GCU or Caledonian) is a public university in Glasgow, Scotland. With a history traceable to 1875, the University was formally instituted in 1993 by an Act of Parliament that created Glasgow’s third university, and what would become one of Scotland’s largest universities with more than 18,000 students.[2]

GCU is regularly ranked among the UK's top 10 modern universities,[3][4] and is widely regarded as one of the UK's most dynamic and innovative universities.[5][6][7] In 2010, less than 20 years after its formation, Caledonian was ranked among the world’s top universities[citation needed], the first and only modern Scottish university to achieve this global standing.[8][9][10] In 2013, the UK's Higher Education Statistics Agency ranked Caledonian as Scotland's 2nd best university in terms of employability among graduates and 11th best in the UK.[11] Also that year, the University was ranked 2nd in the UK for international student satisfaction.[12]

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus was installed Chancellor of the University in 2012, as the first non-British international figure to hold the office of University Chancellor in Scottish history.[13] Pamela Gillies has been the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University since 2006.

Independent research carried out in 2012 revealed that the University contributes over £444m to Scotland’s economy each year with the quantifiable lifetime premium of a one-year class of graduates estimated at around £375m, bringing the University's total annual economic impact to around £820m in Scotland alone.[14]

The University is a member of the University Alliance, the UK league of business-oriented universities. It is also a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, Universities UK, Universities Scotland, the Florence Network, the Talloires Network, the Erasmus+ Programme, and the Santander Universities Network.

History[edit]

The University traces it origin from The Queen's College, Glasgow (founded 1875) and the Glasgow Polytechnic (founded 1971). The Queen’s College, which specialised in providing training in domestic science, received the Royal accolade of being named after Queen Elizabeth II in its centenary celebrations in 1975. Queen Elizabeth II was, herself, Patron of the College since 1944.[15] Glasgow Polytechnic, which was one of the largest central institutions in Scotland, offered externally validated degrees and diplomas in engineering, science, and the humanities: the first of which was a BA in Optics, followed by degrees in Social Sciences (1973) and Nursing (1977).[16]

On 1 April 1993, the two institutions amalgamated to form Glasgow Caledonian University. The new university took its name from Caledonia, the poetic Latin name for present-day Scotland.

Coat of arms and motto[edit]

The University’s coat of arms is the work of university academic and artist Malcolm Lochhead and draws on four elements from the coat of arms of the University’s predecessor institutions. The Caledonian Oak Tree (of St. Mungo's infamous legend) and the Book of Knowledge were borrowed from the arms of Glasgow Polytechnic while the Saltire Ermine and the Crossed Keys (intended to represent the “unlocking” of the Book of Knowledge) were taken from the arms of The Queen’s College. A visual feature was added to the new arms with the illuminated capital letters in the Book’s paragraphs reading: G C U (the three-letter abbreviation of the University’s name). The Coat of Arms was matriculated by the Lord Lyon King of Arms and is inscribed into university degree parchments. The University’s motto: "for the common weal", which has been adopted since 1975, features in the full design of the arms.[17]

Campuses[edit]

The University's Glasgow Campus at dusk

GCU is located in a modern purpose-built campus in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre and opened a graduate campus in London in 2010, the first for a Scottish university. The University also has affiliate campuses in China and Oman and is planning to open a graduate campus in New York to deliver executive training and short courses, as the first British university to do so.[18] The University's Glasgow Campus is highly energy efficient and integrates a combined heat and power plant and district heating scheme to minimise carbon emissions.[19]

Saltire Centre[edit]

The Saltire Centre

The Saltire Centre is the hub of student life and the centrepiece of the University’s Glasgow Campus. One of the UK’s best-loved and most-used university buildings,[20] the £23m futuristic learning centre was opened in January 2006 and houses the University’s entire library collection, the majority of student support services, over 1800 study spaces, a learning café, and a ground-floor mall. With more than 1.4m visits a year, the Saltire Centre is one of the busiest university libraries in the UK.[20] It has won numerous awards for its revolutionary architectural design,[21][22][23] and was hailed by the Guardian for rewriting the design book for academic libraries.[20][24]

Organisation and administration[edit]

Academic schools[edit]

Engineering and Built Environment[edit]

The School of Engineering and Built Environment is one of the largest schools of its kind in the UK and Scotland’s largest provider of built environment graduates.[25][26] It is home to several research centres, including the Caledonian Environment Centre, and has an active research base in Architecture and the Built Environment, ranked as best in Scotland and among the UK’s top 20.[27] The School enjoys several links with industry, including partnerships with engineering firms ClydeUnion Pumps and Howden Group,[28] and has won the prestigious Happold Brilliant Award in 2012 in recognition for its industry-relevant programmes and high quality of teaching.[29] It is organised within the following three research themes:

  • Engineering and Energy Systems
  • Interactive Communications and Engineering
  • Sustainability in the Built Environment

The Glasgow School for Business and Society[edit]

The Glasgow School for Business and Society integrates the University’s faculties in business, law, and social sciences. It is one of seven UK schools (and two in Scotland) to achieve a “Centre of Excellence” designation by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment.[30] It is also the first and only business school in the world to offer triple-accredited degrees in financial services backed by three of the world’s most influential banking and finance professional bodies: the Chartered Banker Institute (the world’s oldest banking institute); the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, and the Institute of Operational Risk.[31] It is also one of ten Scottish law schools that are accredited by the Law Society of Scotland,[32] and home to the Moffat Centre, one of the world’s leading university research centres in tourism and travel and the UK's largest. [33]The school is also the biggest provider of Human Resource Management training in Scotland and is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development[34][35] The School is composed of the following three departments:

  • Department of Law, Economics, Accountancy & Risk.
  • Department of Management.
  • Department of Social Sciences, Media & Journalism.

Health and Life Sciences[edit]

The School of Health and Life Sciences is one of Scotland’s largest research and teaching centres in health care and life sciences;[36][37] Scotland’s only provider of optometry training; and home to an eye clinic, based on campus. Its joint research submission in the field of allied health was ranked best in Scotland and in the top 10 in the UK in the RAE exercise of 2008, while its research in rehabilitative health sciences was judged by the RAE as the best in the UK.[38] The School is, since 1993, Scotland’s only designated World Health Organization Collaborating Centre (WHOCC) for Nursing and Midwifery Education, Research, and Practice.[39] It is also home to the Scottish Ambulance Academy; the only educational establishment in the UK to be formally endorsed by the College of Paramedics and certified by the Health Professions Council, providing professional training for Ambulance Technicians and Paramedics on behalf of the Scottish Ambulance Service.[40] The School is composed of the following three departments:

  • Department of Health and Community Sciences
  • Department of Psychology and Allied Health Sciences
  • Department of Life Sciences

Administration[edit]

By Statute,[41] the University maintains two internal institutions: the University Court and the University Senate. The University Court is the supreme governing body of the University and is composed of a number of ‘governors’, statutory mandated with overseeing its overall strategic direction and appointing both the Chancellor and the Principal (and Vice-Chancellor) of the University. The university’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor and the President of the Students’ Association are ex officio governors of the Court. The University Senate, on the other hand, is statutory tasked with the overall planning, co-ordination, development and supervision of the University's academic affairs. University degrees and fellowship as well as academic honours and distinctions are awarded by and in the name of the Court, with the advice of the Senate. The current Chair of the Court is Tony Brian and the Senate is presided over by the University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, currently Pamela Gillies.

Academic profile[edit]

GCU offers academic programmes in all of the Scottish Funding Council funding groups but medicine, dentistry and teacher education. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise gave the University an ‘internationally recognised’ research profile in a multitude of disciplines. Over 70% of the University’s research submissions were judged as being internationally recognised and 30% were deemed world-leading or of international excellence.[38] In 2010, the QAA awarded the University its highest judgment for academic standards, whilst praising the University’s innovative academic approaches.[42] In 2013, GCU was awarded the HR Excellence in Research Award by the European Commission, in recognition of its commitment to the development of researchers.[43]

Research institutes[edit]

In addition to the many specialised research centres that are based within its academic schools, the University has three university-wide institutes that engage in cross-disciplinary research across various disciplines: The Institute of Applied Health Research, which carries out research on a range of health-related topics; The Institute for Sustainable Engineering and Technology, which carries out research on a range of disciplines aimed at minimising impact on the environment; and The Institute for Society and Social Justice Research, which carries out research on the topics of citizenship and participation, crime and justice, and gender and economy. The latter is home to the Scottish Poverty Information Unit, which was established in 1995 and is regarded as a lead authority on issues related to poverty and social justice in Scotland.[44]

Caledonian Academy[edit]

The Caledonian Academy is a university-based think tank and research centre that was set up in 2006 with the aim of shaping future learning processes and environments around the world. The Academy follows two strands for its work: the "Learning Development" strand, which supports the university in embedding outputs from the Academy's research into practice, and the "Research and Scholarship" strand, which carries out applied research in learning and teaching with organisations in a number of countries. The Academy attracts a group of international visiting scholars every year and counts as some of its principal funders the UK Higher Education Academy, the QAA, and the UK Joint Information Systems Committee.[45] It also oversees a number of industry-academia partnerships, including the Caledonian-Shell Partnership, which focuses on investigating new approaches to work-based and collective learning.[46]

Rankings[edit]

GCU is regularly ranked as one of the UK's top 10 modern universities and is one of very few modern universities to rank among the top 50 universities in the UK in at least one of the national league tables.[3][4] It is also the first and, so far, only modern Scottish university to rank among the top 400 universities the world, making Glasgow home to three universities in the top 400 world rankings.[8][9][10][47] The University has had mixed reviews in UK-wide (national) league tables over the years, attributed by the Guardian to its firm accent on widening participation in higher education.[48] A 2013 review by the UK's Higher Education Statistics Agency placed GCU as top in Glasgow, 2nd in Scotland, and 11th in the UK for employability among graduates.[11] Also in 2013, the University was ranked 2nd in the UK for international student satisfaction.[12]

Magnus Magnusson Fellowship[edit]

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson at her induction as a Magnus Magnusson Fellow in 2011

The Magnus Magnusson Fellowship, named in honour of former University Chancellor Sir Magnus Magnusson, is an intellectual group based at the University and comprises leading international figures from a variety of backgrounds.[49] The fellowship meets annually to debate and agree action on issues of major concern to society, both locally and globally. It holds an annual lecture that alternates between Glasgow, London, and Reykjavík (Magnusson’s birthplace).

Muhammad Yunus gave the inaugural Magnusson Fellowship Lecture in 2008 and was formally inducted as one of the first cohort of fellowship members. Fellowship members include Will Hutton (Magnusson Fellow, 2010), former President of Ireland Mary Robinson (Magnusson Fellow, 2011), and Renata Salecl (Magnusson Fellow, 2012).

Partnerships[edit]

Grameen Caledonian Partnership[edit]

The University has developed a unique partnership with the Grameen Trust, described in Yunus’s 2008 book Building Social Business as "a collection of initiatives that illustrate how a university can help spread and develop and new approach to society’s ills".[50] The partnership resulted in the creation of the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, a research institute in social business and healthcare development based in Glasgow, and the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing in Dhaka, which provides accredited nursing and midwifery education to some of Bangladesh's most disadvantaged communities, with the aspiration, as Yunus puts it, of utilising the intellectural leadership of the University to turn members of Grameen-borrowing families into world-class nurses.[50] In March 2011, the Grameen Caledonian College celebrated its inaugural capping ceremony in Dhaka, with the Princess Royal in attendance. In 2014, GCU became the first university to win a Unilever International Business Award, in recognition for its work on establishing the Grameen Caledonian College.[51]

The Grameen Caledonian partnership also envisaged the creation of a Caledonian-backed Grameen Bank in Scotland, the first to be set up in Europe. A 2009 BBC documentary on the proposed Bank highlighted the legal difficulties surrounding the Bank’s potential operations in Scotland, including the risk that Scottish micro-loan recipients would forfeit their entitlement to much-needed state benefits, failing governmental intervention to amend the law [52] In March 2012, Yunus announced the creation of the Grameen Scotland Foundation at a major event in the University in a fund-raising bid to finance the first branch of the Grameen Bank in Glasgow.[53] Later that year, it was announced that Yunus would succeed Baron Macdonald of Tradeston as University Chancellor.[54]

South African Link[edit]

The University has enjoyed a rich history of interaction with South Africa and a number of its leading figures. It was the first university to award Nelson Mandela an honorary doctorate upon his release from prison in 1990 in recognition of his leadership during the anti-apartheid movement.[55][56] In accepting the honour, Mandela asked the University to offer support for reconstruction and development in South Africa and the University developed in this regard several projects to assist in research and training at a number of South African universities.[56] Mandela officially received the honorary degree in June 1996 at a special ceremony in Buckingham Palace,[57] and suggested the renaming of the University’s Health Building after his close associate, Govan Mbeki, who was imprisoned in the cell next to him on Robben Island. The Govan Mbeki Building was officially inaugurated by Mbeki’s son, President Thabo Mbeki, in June 2001 and a specially-commissioned portrait of Nelson Mandela was unveiled that year at the Building’s foyer by Mandela’s wife, Graça Machel.[56] The University is also home to two significant scholarly collections on South Africa: the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Scotland Archive and the George Johannes Collection. In 2012, GCU began designing and developing work-based programmes in railway operations management for Transnet Freight Rail, South Africa's largest freight rail organisation.[58]

Cultural Fellows[edit]

The Caledonian Cultural Fellows Initiative was set up in 2009 with the aim of enhancing university cultural life and promoting cultural engagement with wider community. Liz Lochhead, the Scots Makar, is the current Honorary President of the Fellowship, whose membership includes writer Anne Donovan, poet and novellist Jackie Kay, and artist Toby Paterson.[59]

Caledonian Club[edit]

The Caledonian Club is a multi award-winning social and community engagement initiative involving staff and students coaching young people and their families in advancing their learning and life skills, while university-based researchers carry out long-term analysis into the process as part of a wider university research agenda into life-long learning. In 2011, the Club developed an award-winning project named 'The Tale of Two Sporting Cities', with the aim of engaging cultural exchanges between primary schools in Glasgow and London and assessing the sporting and cultural legacy of the 2012 London Summer Olympics and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.[60]

Student life[edit]

Students' Association[edit]

Glasgow Caledonian University Students' Association (GCUSA) is an independent body serving and representing the student population of the University. It is located on a separate site within campus and students are automatically admitted to its membership upon matriculation. In 2011, the Association was awarded the coveted title of Students' Union of the Year by NUS Scotland.[61]

Graduation[edit]

Bedellus carrying the University's Ceremonial Mace

GCU holds its annual graduation ceremonies during the Summer and Autumn and its academic attire is made by robe-maker Ede & Ravenscroft. Under the University's academic dress code, the wearing of the customary mortar boards is disallowed, as it is not part of the official academic attire that consists of gowns and hoods only, individual to each award conferred.[62] Graduants traditionally receive their degrees at graduation ceremonies by being 'capped' on the head with the Chancellor's hat, in a gesture that signifies the Chancellor's authority and status within the University.[63] The postnominals for university graduates are prescribed with the abbreviation GlasCal.[64]

Notable staff and alumni[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°52′02″N 4°15′01″W / 55.86722°N 4.25016°W / 55.86722; -4.25016