Our season-by-season news review showcases some of the top headlines of the last 12 months.
Keep up to date with the latest stories
Sealing the City Region Deal
Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon gave the Deal the green light at a data science event at the University. The £1.3 billion investment will accelerate productivity and growth through the funding of infrastructure, skills training and innovation. The University is delivering the Deal’s data-driven innovation component. Over the next decade, five data hubs at the University – the Bayes Centre, Edinburgh Futures Institute, Usher Institute, Easter Bush and, with Heriot-Watt University, the National Robotarium – will use high-speed data analytics to meet industry and societal challenges.
Photo: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arriving at the University with Senior Vice-Principal Professor Charlie Jeffery for the formal agreeement of the City Region Deal. Photo by David Cheskin.
A hub for student wellbeing
Work began on a new £8 million health and wellbeing centre for students.
The building in Bristo Square will see Edinburgh’s Student Counselling and Disability Services brought together with the medical practice and pharmacy for the first time. The building will provide an accessible entrance, a calming wellbeing lounge and consultation rooms.
The centre, scheduled to open in late 2019, is part of a £200 million investment over the next eight years in student facilities, which will include expanded learning spaces, a major new student centre and enhanced sports facilities.
Staff and students from Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and the University took to Edinburgh’s streets with banners masterminded by ECA Textiles Programme Director Lindy Richardson. She was selected along with 100 other female artists from across the UK to develop concepts for the nationwide processions.
Professor Richardson collaborated with fellow University women as well as female prisoners from Cornton Vale in Stirling who embroidered equality-themed messages on pieces of fabric for the banners. Textiles students also designed wearable embroidered placards, with messages including ‘They Fought, We Vote’, which were worn at the Edinburgh procession.
Photo: Professor Richardson (centre) with fellow staff and students at the procession. Photo by Gareth Easton.
Sing it loud
This was the first time the BBC Songs of Praise show’s main event has been filmed outside of London, having previously been filmed at the Royal Albert Hall. Katherine Jenkins and Aled Jones hosted the evening with special guests including Susan Boyle, Collabro, The Overtones and Russell Watson. The audience also enjoyed festive carols and hymns in the hall, which is one of the University’s most iconic and breathtaking buildings.
The production was run for the BBC by Avanti Media, with the University’s Festivals Office helping to facilitate the company’s 70-strong crew within the hall and ensuring it was an evening to remember.
Photo: The Big Sing in McEwan Hall. Photo courtesy of the BBC.
Find out more about the University’s calendar of events.
A cut above
The new University cloth’s base colours of blue, grey and white mirror Edinburgh’s sky. A green thread references a recent study that identified Edinburgh as having more green space than any other British city. Other threads include the corporate red and dark blue, and gold to reflect Old College’s Golden Boy statue.
The tweed was designed in association with Lovat Mill in the Scottish borders, and is sold and distributed by Edinburgh-based tailors Walker Slater.
Photo: Edinburgh performance sports athletes modelling the tweed range. Photo by Richard Gaston.
Supporting modern apprentices
A second cohort of modern apprentices started work at the University. Some 25 new staff began working in a range of roles including landscape gardeners, digital application support assistants, business administrators and lab technicians. The initiative enables young people to earn while they learn valuable career skills. The intake followed a successful pilot year in 2017, which gave 19 young people on-the-job training – sometimes with study at college – as part of a structured programme that leads to an industry-approved qualification. The scheme’s longterm goal is to help create a skilled workforce that’s ready to face the future.
The group is developing long-term cooperation and integration among its members, focusing on innovative research and teaching and boosting international opportunities.
Edinburgh joins existing members Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, Université Paris 1 Panthéon – Sorbonne, KU Leuven, Freie Universität Berlin and Jagiellonian University, Krakow.
Professor James Smith, Vice-Principal International, said: “Joining UNA Europa underlines Edinburgh’s commitment to working with our European colleagues and ensuring continued international experiences and collaboration for our students and staff.”
Photo: The University Central Area. Photo by Guthrie Aerial Photography.
Read more about The University and Europe.
Queen’s Honours awarded
Alumni and staff were named in the New Year’s Honours 2019.
Among the alumni awarded were: Sir Donald H Brydon Kt CBE, Chairman, London Stock Exchange Group plc, Sage Group plc and the Medical Research Council’s Legacy Council – knighthood for services to business and charity, and Dr Helen Pankhurst, Senior Advisor at CARE International – Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to gender equality.
Alumni who are also staff members included: Professor Ian Deary, Director, Centre for Cognitive Ageing & Cognitive Epidemiology – OBE for services to social sciences, and Anna Meredith, Professor of Zoological and Conservation Medicine – OBE for services to animal welfare.
Shedding light on depression
The study, involving more than two million people, was the largest of its kind. Scientists led by the University studied information pooled from three large datasets of anonymised health and DNA records and pinpointed 269 genes that were linked to depression. A further study is now underway.
“We hope that by launching the Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) study, we will be able to find out more about why some people are more at risk than others of mental health conditions, and how we might help people living with depression and anxiety more effectively in future,” said Professor of Psychiatry, Andrew McIntosh.
Photo by Getty Images/Fat Camera.
China medical campus opened
ZJE champions fresh approaches to teaching, ground-breaking research and the translation of new ideas into practical medical applications. The Institute was winner of the China-Britain Business Award for Education Institutional Partnership of the Year 2018.
Professor Susan Welburn, Executive Dean of ZJE, said: “Our activities are being raised to a new level to deliver a step-change in innovation for healthcare in China and around the world. ZJE offers a catalyst for international research partnerships in China as well as a launch pad for engagement with Scotland.”
Photo: The opening of the Institute. Photo by Marvin Ye.
Responding to the climate emergency
The University is committed to creating a more sustainable and socially responsible world.
We have already pledged to become carbon neutral by 2040 – 10 years earlier than recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
The University is on track to halve its carbon emissions – relative to its expenditure – by 2025, compared with 2007/8 levels. In addition, we have received a £5 million interest-free loan from the Scottish Funding Council to deliver a raft of energy reduction projects.
In 2015, we divested from coal and tar sands and, in 2018, announced our intention to fully divest from fossil fuels by the start of 2021. We conduct leading research on the impacts of the climate emergency’s implications for gender, development and poverty, and will expand this work over time.
Up to the challenge
The team overcame St Edmund Hall, Oxford, in the final by 155 points to 140, to become the first Scottish university to triumph in the second series. The last Scottish team to win a grand final was Dundee in 1983.
Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said: “Everyone associated with the University should be justifiably proud of what the team has achieved.” The team, which had a Greyfriars Bobby mascot, was made up of Matt Booth, Marco Malusa, Max Fitz-James and Robbie Campbell Hewson.
Photo: Edinburgh's University Challenge team with host Jeremy Paxman. Photo courtesy of ITV Studios.