Alumni Services

Hamish Long

Dining with Nobel prize winners and learning judo were some of Hamish Long’s highlights from his time at university.

Name Dr Hamish A Long
Degree Course BSc Hons Chemistry; PhD Chemistry
Year of Graduation 1963 and 1966
Hamish Long

Your time at the University

I studied at the University of Edinburgh since it was advised by my headmaster and because I stayed with my stepfather and mother in Edinburgh. It was hard work but enjoyable.

Some notable experiences included running the Charities Car Competition, canoeing down the Tweed from Stobo to Berwick with the PE department and learning judo and fencing.

On the academic side, meeting and dining with Max Perutz and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkins (both Nobel prize-winners) was a highlight, thanks to my wonderful PhD supervisor - Dr Marjorie Harding.

Summer jobs included working as crewman/barman on a little cruise ship (in reality a converted tug), the Second Snark. This involved cruises to all the islands in the Forth and to the Forth Road Bridge, including the day it opened.

My PhD was gained in the X-ray crystallography department. There was no computer available in the University and at first punched cards had to be taken to Glasgow University for processing on its primitive computer, DEUCE.

Later we had access to the ATLAS computers in Manchester and Harwell. This involved sitting in Buccleuch Place in the evenings, punching out programs and data on 7-hole tape on flexiwriters and posting it to the appropriate organisation. Results came back 4 days later - usually with parity errors! I even learned to programme in Atlas Autocode.

Through Chem Soc I had my first real game of golf and learned to skittle at the Sheep’s Heid.

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University

I left Edinburgh to take up an ICI technical officer post in Runcorn. At that time morale was low in the organisation and I returned to Scotland to gain my science teaching qualifications.

I then taught in East Lothian for a number of years until I was appointed to the Scottish Examination Board as an Assistant Examination Officer in 1973. There followed a number of different posts in the Board culminating in my period as Chief Executive from 1990 until the Government wound up the SEB in 1997.

I decided not to go forward into the new Scottish Qualifications Authority although I was called back in by the Government as a special adviser on what went wrong with the 2000 diet of exams and compiled the report on that unfortunate event.

There is much more that I could say but there is no doubt that my studies at Edinburgh opened up a world of opportunity for which, looking back, I am truly grateful.

Dr Hamish A Long

I should mention also that I was, for a number of years, treasurer and membership secretary for the International Association for Educational Assessment. This gave wonderful opportunities to build a global network of like organisations and involved travel, for example, to Africa, China, India and the Antipodes.

When I retired from full time work I was awarded the FEIS from the Educational Institute of Scotland and the FSQA from the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Since retirement I have taken up various hobbies, the most rewarding of which have been learning to play the clàrsach and church bell ringing. The golf, alas, has not improved.

There is much more that I could say but there is no doubt that my studies at Edinburgh opened up a world of opportunity for which, looking back, I am truly grateful.

Alumni wisdom

Always respect your colleagues - when all is said and done, good personal relationships lie at the heart of a successful career.