University of Stirling

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University of Stirling
Motto Innovation and Excellence
Type Public
Established 1967
Endowment £3.2 million (2015)[1]
Chancellor James Naughtie
Principal Gerry McCormac [2]
Chairman of the Court Fiona Sandford
Administrative staff
Students 11,100 (2014/15)[4]
Undergraduates 7,995 (2014/15)[4]
Postgraduates 3,105 (2014/15)[4]
Location Stirling, Scotland, UK

     Malachite green

and Dove grey[5]
Affiliations Association of Commonwealth Universities
University of Stirling logo.jpg

The University of Stirling is a UK research intensive campus university founded by Royal charter in 1967. It is a plate glass university located in the Central Belt of Scotland, built within the walled Airthrey Castle estate. Since its foundation, it has expanded to have four Faculties, a Business School, a Graduate School and a number of Institutes and Centres covering a broad range of subjects. It is ranked among the top 50 universities in the world that are under 50 years old by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and among the top 40 in the UK in the complete university guide.[6] In the 2014 assessment of research in the UK, the Research Excellence Framework, it was ranked 5th in Scotland and 40th in the UK for research intensity.[7] Stirling has a reputation for excellence in graduate employment prospects ranking 7th[8] in the UK in 2015 and 3rd in 2016.[9]

The University attracts students from a wide range of backgrounds (with over 12,000 part-time and full-time students in 2016/17), including a large number of international students, and a high proportion of state school students, in comparison to other well-ranked universities. Its strategic plan 2016- 2021[10] states that it is a university where ability not background, is valued. Situated midway between the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the university campus is approximately 360 acres (1.5 km2) in size, incorporating the Stirling University Innovation Park [11] and the Dementia Centre.[12] The beautiful campus with its wildlife, loch and greenery, nestled in the foothills of the Scottish Highlands is often cited as among the best in the UK.[13] In 2002, the University of Stirling and the landscape of the Airthrey Estate was designated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites as one of the top 20 heritage sites of the 20th century within the UK.[14] The institution also occupies buildings in the city of Stirling.

Stirling is an international university with over 120 nationalities represented on campus.[15] It has international degree programme partnerships in China with Hebei Normal University, Singapore with Singapore Institute of Management, Oman and Vietnam. The University has two other Scottish campuses in Inverness and Stornoway.


Stirling was the first new university to be established in Scotland for nearly 400 years.[16] The original site of the campus was selected from a shortlist of competing sites which include, Falkirk, Perth and Inverness. The author of the Robbins Review, which recommended an expansion of the number of universities in the UK during the 1960s, Lord Robbins, was appointed as the University's first Chancellor in 1968. In 1967 a house for the University Principal Dr Tom Cottrell was completed, designed by architects Morris and Steedman. It was listed as category A in 2009.[17]

The Pathfoot Building opened in 1968

The Pathfoot Building, which represented the first phase of development on the campus, was completed in 1968 and originally housed lecture theatres, offices and classrooms in addition to the iconic 'crush hall' where the university displayed its emerging collection of contemporary Scottish art. The building was extended in 1979 to include a Tropical Aquarium and again in 1987 to include a Virology Unit associated with the university's Institute of Aquaculture. In 1993, the Pathfoot Building was selected by the international conservation organisation DoCoMoMo as one of sixty key Scottish monuments of the post-war era. It was also voted as one of Prospect's 100 best modern Scottish buildings. In 1970, development began on what was subsequently named the Cottrell Building, in memory of the university's first principal Dr Cottrell. It comprises two parallel buildings with cross link corridors and interspersed courtyard gardens. The building today houses most of the university administration, lecture theatres, departmental offices, classrooms and computer laboratories. The University Library, Atrium and MacRobert Centre are housed in an adjoining building, the Andrew Miller Building, which was completed in 1971.[18] On 13 October 1972, during a visit to the new campus by HM The Queen, she was subjected to a rowdy reception by students, widely reported in the media.[19] Subsequent calls for the university to be closed were rejected. There were no further Royal visits until 2011, when Prince Edward formally opened the refurbished library.[20]

A department of Business studies was set up in 1982.[21] The Institute of Aquaculture, a research institute that specialises in fish farming and genetics opened the same year. In 1983 they sold 300 acres of land to Wang Laboratories.[22] The R.G. Bomont Building (named after the second University Secretary), which houses the Faculty of Social Science, was completed in 1998. The Iris Murdoch building was opened in 2002 to house The Dementia Services Development Centre, and the Colin Bell Building was completed in 2003.

University of Stirling Chancellors[edit]

  1. Right Honorable Lord Robbins -1967 to 1978
  2. Sir Harold Montague Finniston -1978 to 1988
  3. 8th Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Robert Bruce -1988 to 1998
  4. Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg -1998 to 2008
  5. Dr James Naughtie -2008 to 2018

University of Stirling Principals[edit]

  1. Dr Tom Cottrell -1967 to 1973 (d. 1973 in office)
  2. Professor Sir Frederick Holliday[23] -1973 to 1975 (d. 2016)
  3. Professor Sir Robert (Bob) Alexander Crammond[24] -1975 to 1981 (d. 2004)
  4. Professor Sir Kenneth (Ken) John Wilson Alexander[25] -1981 to 1986 (d. 2001)
  5. Professor Arthur (John) Forty -1986 to 1994
  6. Professor Andrew Miller[26] -1994 to 2001
  7. Professor Colin Bell -2001 to 2003 (d. 2003 in office)
  8. Professor (Christine) Margaret Hallett -2005 to 2010
  9. Professor Francis Gerard (Gerry) McCormac -2010 -


Airthrey Castle
Airthrey Castle

The University campus is set within 330 acres (1.3 km2) of grounds beneath the Ochil Hills, 2 miles (3.2 km) from the centre of Stirling, close to the town of Bridge of Allan. It is regularly described as one of the most beautiful campuses in the world[27] and was ranked 1st for campus environment in the International Student Barometer, 2012.[28] It is situated on the site of the historic Airthrey estate which includes the Robert Adam-designed 18th century Airthrey Castle and includes the Hermitage woods, Airthrey Loch,[29] Airthrey Golf Course[30] and a 50-metre swimming pool.[31] The Andrew Miller Building incorporates an Atrium, which contains several retail and food outlets including a bookstore, bank and general store. This building links the Library and Robbins' Centre Students Union and has connecting bridges to the Cottrell Building, on-campus student residences and the MacRobert Arts Centre.

Airthrey Loch, the University's Cottrell Building and the Wallace Monument.

The Library holds over 500,000 volumes and over 9,000 journals. It reopened in August 2010 after a major refurbishment programme. MacRobert Arts Centre is a small theatre and cinema complex open to members of the University community and the general public. The University has a considerable fine art collection in the Pathfoot Building, comprising over 300 works including paintings, tapestries and sculpture.[32]


Willow Court, Halls of Residence

The University of Stirling student accommodation can cater for almost 3,000 students in over 20 properties located on and off campus.[33] Most accommodation is in university halls and located on campus. There are town houses at Alexander Court for families and groups of students. Of the 2,000 rooms located on-campus, 800 were built since 2013 as part of a £40m investment programme in student accommodation which was completed in September 2015.[34]

Halls of Residence located on-campus include:

  • Andrew Stewart Hall
  • Beech Court Flats & Studios
  • Fraser of Allander House
  • H H Donnelly House
  • Muirhead House
  • Polwarth House
  • Willow Court Flats & Studios
  • Juniper Court Flats & Studios
  • Union Street, Stirling

Residential buildings located off-campus, within Stirling city centre, include Union Street and John Forty's Court.

Sport facilities[edit]

National Swimming Academy

Stirling was designated as Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence by the Scottish Government in 2008.[35] Scholarships are available in five core sports: football, golf, swimming, tennis and triathlon, which allow student athletes to prepare for international competition.[36]

The University has a comprehensive range of sports facilities including a 9-hole Airthrey Golf Course[30] and a 50-metre swimming pool[31] completed in 2001 as part of the National Swimming Academy - a partnership between the University, Scottish Swimming and British Swimming. The sports centre also holds the Gannochy National Tennis Centre, badminton and squash courts, a fitness centre, strength and conditioning centre, sports halls and all-weather playing fields available for students, University staff and the public. The campus is the headquarters for a number of sports agencies including the sportscotland institute of sport, Commonwealth Games Scotland, Scottish Swimming and triathlonscotland.

At Rio 2016, a number of students and alumni from the university competed for Great Britain. Swimmers included Olympic silver medalists, Duncan Scott and Robbie Renwick and Commonwealth gold medalist Ross Murdoch.[37]

Tennis players Andy Murray and his brother Jamie Murray trained on the university courts when they were young.[38] Gordon Reid, wheel chair Olympic gold medalist in 2016, was a tennis scholar at the university.[39] The university men's and women's golf teams are consistently ranked among the best in European.[40]

Sports scandals[edit]

In 2013 the University of Stirling Hockey team members were caught on camera singing sexist songs on the local UL bus.[41] The following year, in 2014, the University of Stirling Rugby team members were caught on camera in blackface on a night out.[41]

Highland and Western Isles campuses[edit]

The University has campuses in Inverness and Stornoway which specialise in Nursing and Midwifery. The Highland site is on the outskirts of Inverness within the grounds of Raigmore Hospital. The site has purpose-built teaching facilities and student accommodation.The Highland Health Sciences Library is also located on this campus and caters for both the students and staff of the University, as well as the employees of NHS Highland and its associated Trusts. The Western Isles campus is located in Stornoway and the teaching accommodation is part of the Western Isles Hospital. This is a small campus site and also has student accommodation within the environs of the hospital.

International degree partnerships[edit]

The University has international degree programme partnerships in Singapore,[42] Oman and Vietnam.[43]

Organisation and governance[edit]

In August 2016, the University reorganised into four Faculties, the Stirling Management School and the Stirling Graduate School.[44]

  • Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Applied Social Sciences
    • Education
  • Faculty of Arts and Humanities
    • Communications, Media and Culture
    • History and Politics
    • Law and Philosophy
    • Literature and Languages
    • London Academy of Diplomacy
  • Stirling Management School
    • Accounting & Finance
    • Economics
    • Management, Work and Organisation
    • Marketing and Retail
    • Centre for Advanced Management Education
    • Centre for Graduate Research in Management
  • Faculty of Natural Sciences
    • Aquaculture
    • Biological and Environmental Sciences
    • Computing Science and Mathematics
    • Psychology
  • Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport
    • Sport
    • Health Sciences


The statutes of the University are laid out in its Royal Charter. University Court is the governing body of the University and the Academic Council looks after academic affairs[45] Day-to-day management of the University is undertaken by Professor Gerry McCormac University Principal (who is also Vice-Chancellor). The Chancellor is Dr James Naughtie.[46] The University's constitution, academic regulations, and appointments are outlined in the University calendar.[47]

University Court[edit]

The University's governing body is the University Court. It has overall responsibility for the management of the University's resources, the ongoing strategic direction of the University and the approval of major developments. The Court meets four times over the course of the academic year. In May 2015 the University appointed Fiona Sandford as Chair of Court, taking up the post on 1 August 2015, for a period of four years.[48] She succeeded Dr Alan Simpson, OBE who was Chair from 2007 to 2015.

Academic Council[edit]

Academic Council is the body responsible for the management of academic affairs, awarding of all degrees, and for the regulation and superintendence of the education, discipline and welfare of the students of the University. The Council consists of various academics and is chaired by the Principal of the university.

Academic profile[edit]


Most Scottish degree programmes are designed to include four years of study with the intention of providing a broad and flexible education. Stirling has offered four year, modular degree programmes since the university was first founded. In the 1960s and 70's Credit Accumulation and Transfer Schemes, which create flexible pathways for students to acquire qualifications, were predominantly used in the US with the UK system operating on a disciplinary progression model. Initially, Stirling's modular approach, and its inherent flexibility, was seen as novel in the UK, but through time, more institutions moved to a semester basis and today almost all universities operate in this way. Teaching at Stirling is on a two semester basis with the academic year beginning in mid-September and the first semester ending in mid-December. The second semester runs from the beginning of January to the end of May each year. At undergraduate level, three modules are taken in the first semester and three in the second. The basic module of study at Stirling is assigned 20 Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework[49] (SCQF) credit points. Ordinary degrees have a minimum credit total of 360 points. The University offers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses covering the liberal arts, natural science, management school and health science.[50] Stirling achieved a 5 Star Excellence Award for Teaching by QS in 2015.[51]


Stirling is an interdisciplinary research-intensive University with a range of research activity focused on Health and Wellbeing; Culture and Society; Environment; Enterprise and the Economy; and Sport. In the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework the University was ranked 5th in Scotland and 40th in the UK for research intensity.[7] The Research Excellence Framework also rated almost three quarters of research activity either world-leading or internationally excellent.

The University is home to some specialist research centres:[52]

  • Centre for Environmental History and Policy
  • Stirling Media Research Institute (SMRI)
  • Stirling Centre for Scottish Studies.
  • Dementia Services Development Centre
  • Centre for Gender and Feminist Studies
  • Centre for Transnational Legal Methods
  • Stirling Environment and Energy Network
  • Centre of Postcolonial Studies
  • Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication
  • Contemporary Portuguese Political History Research Centre
  • Stirling Centre for Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies
  • Centre for Policy, Conflict and Co-Operation

Stirling has a research publications database, STORRE, which is a source of free, full-text access, research outputs.[53]

Business links[edit]

The University has major industrial research links through Stirling University Innovation Park. This large science park was founded in 1993 and is located adjacent to the main university campus. It is home to around 50 companies engaging in various forms of research and development.[54] During the 1990s the university built a stand-alone Management Centre on the campus. This developed over time into a Conference Centre with residential accommodation. In 2015 the Management Centre was renamed as, the Stirling Court Hotel. The University is ranked 7th in the UK for graduate employability according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, with 96% of graduates in employment, or further study, within six months of graduating.[55]

Reputation and rankings[edit]

(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2017, national)
The Guardian[61]
(2017, national)
Times/Sunday Times[62]
(2017, national)

Stirling is a mid-ranked,[63] pre-1992 UK university with a reputation for high teaching quality[64] and socially relevant research. It ranked 5th in Scotland and 40th in the UK for research intensity[7] in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. The University is ranked 7th in the UK for graduate employability by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 96% of graduates are in employment, or further study, within six months of graduating.[55] Stirling achieved an overall 5 stars in the QS World University Rankings 2015[65] In The Complete University Guide 2017, Stirling is ranked 1st in the UK for Social Work,[66] 2nd in Scotland for Communication and Media Studies and 2nd in Scotland for Marketing. The University was one of the twenty institutions that was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary prize in 2014; the prize for Higher and Further Education for ground-breaking research recognised work led by the Institute of Social Marketing into the effects of tobacco, alcohol and food marketing on the health of young people.[67] In March 2016, the University of Stirling Management School was accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) for its MBA and MBM programmes.

HM The Queen, Presenting the Queen's Anniversary Prize to Professor Gerry McCormac

Student life[edit]

Students' Union[edit]

The University of Stirling Students' Union[68] is based in the University's Robbins Centre Students' Union on campus and is affiliated to the National Union of Students. The Union provides students with entertainment, welfare and information services and represents students interests to a range of organisations, including the University. Senior members of the Union are entitled to seats on the University Court.[69] The Union supports more than 60 clubs and societies. The Sports Union supports 53 sports clubs. The University has student-run media services. Brig has been the campus newspaper since 1969. Air3 Radio, was the first campus radio station in Scotland (previously URA – University Radio Airthrey), and AirTV (formerly Videoworks) is a television station for students, set up in 2002.

Notable academics and alumni[edit]







Equal pay[edit]

As of August 2016, there is an average percentage pay gap within grade among academic staff at the University of 0.04% in favour of female employees. Among salaried professional services staff there is an average percentage pay gap within grade of 0.07% in favour of female employees.[70] The staff base is made up of 61% females and 39% males.

In September 2013, the University was awarded an Athena SWAN institutional bronze award for promoting good practice in gender equality.[71] As of August 2016, less than 16% of teaching staff, who contribute a small but important portion of University teaching, are employed on casual contracts.[72]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 56°08′44″N 3°55′10″W / 56.1455°N 3.9195°W / 56.1455; -3.9195