The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a world renowned centre for teaching and research in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university. Edinburgh receives approximately 47,000 applications every year, making it the third most popular university in the UK by volume of applicants. Entrance is intensively competitive, with 12 applications per place in the last admissions cycle. It was the fourth university to be established in Scotland and the 6th in the United Kingdom, and has been regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It is currently ranked the top rated in Scotland, the 6th in Europe, and the 20th in the world according to the 2011 QS Global Rankings.It is the only Scottish university to be a member of both the elite Russell Group, and the League of European Research Universities,a consortium of 21 of Europe’s most prominent and renowned research universities.In addition, the University has both historical links and current partnerships with prestigious academic institutions in the United States and Canada, including members of the Ivy League and G13.
The university played an important role in leading Edinburgh to its reputation as a chief intellectual centre during the Age of Enlightenment, and helped give the city the nickname of the Athens of the north. Graduates of the university include some of the major figures of modern history, including the naturalist Charles Darwin, physicist James Clerk Maxwell, philosopher David Hume, mathematician Thomas Bayes, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown, Deputy President of the British Supreme Court Lord Hope, surgeon and pioneer of sterilisation Joseph Lister, signatories of the American declaration of independence John Witherspoon and Benjamin Rush, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, first president of Tanzania Julius Nyerere, and a host of famous authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, J. M. Barrie, and Sir Walter Scott. The University is also associated with 9 Nobel Prize winners and 1 Abel Prize winner. It also continues to have links to the British Royal Family, with Prince Philip being chancellor from 1953-2010, and the Princess Royal from 2011.