The origins of Edinburgh Napier University can be traced back to the era of 16th century mathematician and philosopher John Napier. He was born in the medieval tower house of Merchiston Castle, which would become the site of the university’s Merchiston campus.
Fast-forward to 1958, the tower was saved from demolition and work began to turn it into a new college named after Napier, who invented the decimal point and logarithms. Six years later, the doors swung open for the first time at Napier Technical College. Teaching staff delivered courses such as cabinet making, boat building, chemistry, coopering, and engineering.
An eventful first few years saw it renamed Napier College of Science and Technology in 1966, before merging with Edinburgh College of Commerce in 1974, to become Napier College of Commerce and Technology. The name was altered again in 1986, to Napier Polytechnic, prior to the institution officially taking the name Napier University six years down the line. The university sign was unveiled in a ceremony attended by more than 700 students and members of staff.
The Royal Family are no strangers to this university. The Queen was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh during a visit to the newly-extended library in 1984, and 13 years later Princess Anne formally opened the Craighouse campus.
Other high-profile visitors have included Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who opened the Craiglockhart campus in 1987, and Nobel Prize winner Professor Jack Kilby, who cut the ribbon on the new £7 million Jack Kilby Centre, a new computer lab, at the turn of the century.
The university added a new Faculty of Health Studies to its complex in 1996 as a result of a merger between the Scottish Borders College of Nursing and Lothian College of Health Studies. It was rebranded as Edinburgh Napier University at the start of 2009. It has been the proud recipient of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize on two occasions, most recently in 2016, in acknowledgement of its work in timber engineering, sustainable construction and wood science. That came six years after the gong for innovative housing construction for environmental benefit and quality of life, with the university’s Building Performance Centre having improved sound insulation between attached houses.
The Guardian University Guide 2017 rated the university as top in the UK for adding value to students. The score is arrived at by tracking students from enrolment to graduation, and comparing their final degree award with the qualifications at entry. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2018, Edinburgh Napier was named in 75th nationally and 601-800 worldwide.
Popular Sky Sports News presenter and Talk Sport Radio host Jim White, who has made transfer deadline day famous over the last decade, studied at the university, along with Wall Street Journal writer Neil McIntosh, BBC weather forecaster Carol Kirkwood, BBC Reporting Scotland anchor Catriona Shearer, and Al Jazeera senior correspondent Alan Fisher.
From the world of politics, former First Minister of Scotland and Scottish National Party MP Alex Salmond is amongst the Edinburgh Napier alumni, while sport is well-represented too, by rugby duo Jamie Mayer and Kyle Traynor, and Olympian Lynsey Sharp.