Edit Magazine


A selection of news from the University, including a farewell to the Principal as he prepares to demit office, the newly refurbished McEwan Hall, the opening of our Southeast Asia Office and the 150th anniversary of Edinburgh University Boat Club.

Restored McEwan Hall set to host glorious graduations

McEwan Hall interior during restoration

This summer’s graduations are taking place in the newly refurbished McEwan Hall, ahead of the completion of the £33m restoration project which will conclude later this year.

Built between 1888 and 1897 through the largest single private donation in the University’s history, from the brewer William McEwan, the hall is designed in Renaissance style with vivid murals by William Mainwaring Palin painted throughout its interior. The restoration will return the building to its original status as a major asset for both the University and the city of Edinburgh. In addition, Bristo Square is being landscaped as part of the works and will have improved accessibility and more social space.

This summer also sees the relaunch of another historic building. Originally opened in 1763, St Cecilia’s Hall is the oldest purpose-built concert hall in Scotland and contains one of the world’s most important collections of historic musical instruments. Owned by the University, the new St Cecilia’s Hall museum will offer more performances in the building’s elegant oval concert hall, increased access through longer opening hours and new ways for visitors to enjoy the venue.

For more information about the latest Estates projects, visit:

Estates website

St Cecilia's Hall website

Photo of mural detail inside the the restored McEwan Hall by Neil Hanna.

A fond farewell to the Principal

Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea announced last year his intention to demit office.

After 15 years at the helm, Professor O’Shea leaves the University in a much stronger place. Research performance is better than ever, student demand at home and abroad continues to grow, and our position in all the global rankings puts the University among the world’s best.

It is no surprise, given the Principal’s background as a computer scientist, that the University has embraced the opportunities of new technologies as few others have. In 2014 when Debrett’s, in association with The Sunday Times, named the top 500 most influential people in the UK, Professor O’Shea was listed in the top 30 in Technology.

“I firmly believe that Edinburgh’s growth has allowed us to exert our influence, assert our expertise and realise our ambitions in a much wider array of fields over the past 15 years,” Professor O’Shea said. “It is a success story which is a testimony to the vision and aspirations of the whole University community – staff, students, alumni, supporters and friends – and leaves the University very well placed for the future and the challenges ahead.”

Professor Peter Mathieson has been appointed as the next Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University. He is currently President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong. Professor Mathieson’s background is in medical research and teaching, specialising in renal medicine, and before taking up the post in Hong Kong he was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Bristol for six years.

“Like Hong Kong, Edinburgh is a truly global institution with a great reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Working together with students, staff and supporters, I am confident we can build on that reputation in the future,” said Professor Mathieson.

Professor O’Shea has kindly agreed to remain in post until Professor Mathieson joins the University in early February 2018.

Photo of Professor O'Shea by Sam Sills.

The University and Europe

International students

On 23 June 2016 the UK electorate voted in a national referendum to leave the European Union. As the UK formally enters talks to leave the EU, the University is taking a positive and proactive approach to help ensure that the best outcome is achieved for our staff and students.

There have already been reassurances from the UK and Scottish governments on several significant areas, including residency status for current EU staff and their families, European Commission funding for collaborative research projects, and confirmation of tuition fees for students joining in 2017 and 2018. In addition the University has confirmed that all 2018-19 entrants whose degree includes compulsory study abroad will be guaranteed funding support for their study abroad.

The University has always had a commitment to diversity and a community in which students and staff feel valued and welcome. Our international students now represent 42 per cent of our total community, coming from 156 nations, with 33 per cent of our staff coming from 105 nations. We are also dedicated to a life-long relationship with our worldwide alumni community of more than 250,000 graduates. Our alumni-focused activities in Europe and beyond continue to strengthen, as evidenced by recent vibrant alumni events in Brussels, Berlin, Helsinki and elsewhere.

EU News

Photo by Paul Dodds.

Celebrating 150 years of rowing

Katherine Grainger and Polly Swann at the Boat Club anniversary

Olympic medal winner Dame Katherine Grainger returned to her rowing roots to mark the 150th anniversary of Edinburgh University Boat Club.

Britain’s most decorated female Olympian was guest of honour at a weekend of celebrations in February for the club where her rowing career began as an undergraduate in 1993.

This year she was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in recognition of her services to rowing and charity.

Dame Katherine – who completed a law degree at Edinburgh and postgraduate qualifications in Glasgow and London – had never rowed before joining the Edinburgh club. She went on to become the first British woman to win five medals in five successive Olympic Games, including a gold medal at London 2012.

“I love coming back to Edinburgh to support the Boat Club. All of my best memories of the city are linked to my time spent at the club. It kick-started my rowing career. Everything that’s happened to me in the past 20 years as a professional athlete stems from the amazing time I had here,” Dame Katherine said.

Also taking part in the celebrations was University of Edinburgh medical student and Boat Club member Polly Swann, who won a silver medal in the women’s eight at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Jim Aitken MBE, Director of Sport and Exercise at the University, said: “Dame Katherine is an incomparable talent and it was wonderful to have her here to mark the Boat Club’s 150th anniversary. The weekend was a great chance to celebrate the success of members and mark the club’s fantastic progress over the last 150 years.”

Edinburgh University Boat Club is one of the biggest sports clubs on campus with 230 members. It is one of only a handful of clubs in the UK to host a High Performance Programme supported by British Rowing. The programme was awarded in recognition of the club’s excellent track record in nurturing world-class rowers.

In May, Edinburgh rowed to victory over Glasgow rivals in the Scottish Boat Race – the third oldest boat race in the world. Edinburgh took the overall trophy after winning all seven of the races, which included beginners, alumni and senior men and women from the Boat Club.

Photo of Katherine Grainger (left) and Polly Swann by David Cheskin.

Join the club

Penn Club

Alumni and friends of the University of Edinburgh are eligible to become members of the Penn Club, the University of Pennsylvania’s private club in New York.

Located on 44th Street, midtown Manhattan, the Penn Club offers its members exclusive access to a wide range of elegant facilities and outstanding services – from entertaining clients with gourmet dining, to relaxing with a massage, to utilising one of its more than 150 reciprocal clubs worldwide.

The 13-storey clubhouse, just a short walk to Times Square, Bryant Park and Grand Central, has two restaurants, a fitness centre, 39 overnight guest rooms, various meeting and banquet spaces, a business centre and more.

To take advantage of our new affiliation with the Penn Club of New York please visit the club’s website where you can apply online to become a member.

Penn Club website

Please note: The Penn Club of New York will verify applicants’ alumni status with the University.

Photo courtesy of the Penn Club of New York.

Strengthening long-standing links with Southeast Asia

Singapore skyline

The University has strengthened links with Southeast Asia by establishing a new base in Singapore.

The Southeast Asia Office will help the University work with partners in education, business and government across the region. The University has long-standing links with Singapore through its many partners, supporters and alumni. It welcomed 293 students from Singapore in 2016/17 and has a 1,000-strong alumni community living in Singapore.

The University operates a successful student internship programme with Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. It enables students to undertake placements with Syngenta in India, GlaxoSmithKline and the Institute of Chemical & Engineering Sciences in Singapore. Edinburgh also has collaborations with the National University of Singapore. Indonesian students at Edinburgh in 2015/16 totalled 114 – the highest number at any Scottish university. In 2013, the University signed an agreement with the Indonesian Ministry of Education’s Directorate General of Higher Education. Both parties participate in a postgraduate scholarship scheme that will run until at least 2018.

Edinburgh welcomed 123 students from Thailand in 2016/17 and regularly engages with more than 500 Thai alumni. The University has existing research and teaching partnerships with a number of institutions and groups. These include the Thai government’s Ministry of Public Health and Bangkok’s Mahidol University and Chulalongkorn University.

Audrey Kon will head up the new office. Born in Singapore, Audrey was formally Regional Head – Southeast Asia for the University of Wolverhampton.

The office joins Edinburgh’s overseas network, which includes bases in North America, Latin America, South Asia and East Asia. “Each office is responsible for ensuring that we engage meaningfully in each region, that we build partnerships that will raise our aspirations and impact, and that we are recognised as one of the world’s leading universities,” said Professor James Smith, Vice-Principal International. “Our increased presence in Southeast Asia and other regions will ensure we are well placed to respond to opportunities in the future.”

Find out more about the University’s global connections

Photo of Singapore skyline by iStock/Deejpilot.

Appreciating our architecture

Building Knowledge book cover

Recent work carried out by Historic Environment Scotland in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh has shed new light on the University’s architectural legacy.

From archive material which has not been published before to stunning new photography, a new book entitled 'Building Knowledge: An Architectural History of the University of Edinburgh' by authors Nick Haynes and Clive Fenton tells the story of the first college buildings through to the magnificence of Robert Adam’s Old College and beyond, right up to the present day.

The Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, writes: “This book will add to the general understanding of our buildings and should add further to the pleasure that they offer. I encourage you to read this book. Then climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat and admire our University buildings scattered across the city.”

'Building Knowledge: An Architectural History of the University of Edinburgh' will be available to buy from the University’s Visitor Centre and Historic Environment Scotland’s online shops. Proceeds go to the O’Shea Global Scholars Initiative.

O'Shea Global Scholars Initiative