Glasgow Caledonian University, one of Scotland’s largest universities with more than 20,000 students, famously made the late Nelson Mandela an honorary graduate, and counted former Prime Minister Gordon Brown amongst its lecturers.
The university was established in 1993 following the merger of The Queen’s College and Glasgow Polytechnic. The Queen’s College was a specialist in domestic science, while the polytechnic was one of the biggest central institutions in the country, offering up externally-validated degrees in several subjects.
The two teamed up to make Glasgow Caledonian University, with the new institution taking inspiration for its name from Caledonia, the Latin name for present-day Scotland. Academic Malcolm Lochhead, a talented artist, produced the university’s coat of arms, taking elements of the coat of arms used by its predecessor institutions.
The university’s motto, ‘University for the common good’, is linked to its mission: ‘to make a positive difference to the communities we serve, and this is at the heart of all we do, especially in our social innovation teaching and research’.
Glasgow Caledonian’s main campus is in the heart of the city, and it also runs the British School of Fashion in London, based in Spitalfields. The university has a well-established link to the fashion industry, and is one of only a handful of education providers to offer an MBA in Luxury Brand Management.
The British School of Fashion was established with the aim of using the existing fashion expertise to invest in bright new talent. It provides a range of programmes, developed to meet the requirements of the fashion industry in a challenging consumer market.
The university has since opened a campus in New York’s SoHo district – the first university in the UK to do so. The complex, on Wooster Street, replicates the style of the Spitalfields set-up, and has proved to be a big hit amongst students in the district.
An historic moment arrived in 2012, when Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus became the university’s Chancellor, making him Scotland’s first non-British figure to take such a role.
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The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2018 placed Glasgow Caledonian in 73rd position nationally, and 601-800 on a global level. A report from the Confederation of British Industry, Future Fit, also praised the university’s efforts in getting students ready for the world of work. Its commitment to promoting the vital issue of gender equality was also recognised and praised, in the form of the Equality Challenge Unit’s coveted Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award.
Notable alumni and staff include former PM Brown, who was a Lecturer in Politics in the late 1970s before climbing the Westminster ladder, stand-up comedian Kevin Bridges, who shot to fame on Live at The Apollo, and retired footballer-turned-pundit Pat Nevin, who played for Chelsea and Everton, and represented Scotland on 28 occasions.
Armando Iannucci, who wrote hit television comedy shows such as The Day Today, I’m Alan Partridge and The Thick of It, is an honorary graduate of Glasgow Caledonian, as are entrepreneur Richard Branson and the late, great Mandela.