Top Universities in Scotland

8 minute read
Universities in Scotland

Home to some of the oldest research universities in the British Isles, Scotland is an emerging study destination amongst international students and is revered for its multiple centres of excellence and world-class universities. The Scots have a rich lifelong learning and innovation tradition and the country’s great thinkers were responsible for inventing the telephone and television, conceptualizing the particle of the Higgs-Boson, discovering penicillin, and producing heaps of powerful philosophy, literature and music. Planning to study in Scotland? Here, we bring you the complete guide on top universities in Scotland, their rankings, admissions 2021 and more!

Why Study in Scotland?

Scotland, consisting of the Scottish mainland and a scattering of islands just off the shore, is the northernmost country in the British Isles. Although Scotland is famous in places like Edinburgh and Glasgow for its untouched and awe-inspiring Lochs and national parks, the country has seven towns and some large urban populations as well. Here are the top perks of why you should choose Scotland as your next study destination!

  • Globally-ranked Universities: Four of the ancient universities in Scotland date back to the 15th and 16th centuries, and today they still hold top positions in the world rankings. With many more earning awards and accolades, St Andrews, the University of Edinburgh and Glasgow are all within the top 70 universities in the world.
  • Home to Renowned Schools of Creative and Performing Arts: The country has been the homeland of many famous actors and musicians and a lot is down to their acting and creative schools. These range from proven drama academies, like the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD), to creative art schools.
  • Scottish Patrimony: Tourism is a huge source of income for Scotland, and its distinctive culture is largely responsible for this. Immerse yourself in the history of the clans, Gaelic and Scots, castles and local cuisine (and no, you don’t have haggis to eat).
  • Lively Student Life: As a student in Scotland, Burn’s Night, Hogmanay and the popular Edinburgh Comedy Festival are just a few of the special Scottish festivities you will get to enjoy. Food, fireworks, laughter and a drama or two.

To know more, check out our exclusive blog on Why Study on Scotland!

Top Universities in Scotland

Here is a list of the top universities in Scotland according to QS World Rankings:

University QS World Rankings
University of Edinburgh #20
University of Glasgow #77
University of St Andrews #96
University of Aberdeen #207
University of Strathclyde #300
Heriot-Watt University #301
University of Dundee #319
University of Stirling #485

Here is a list of the top universities in Scotland according to THE World Rankings:

World University Rank 2022 Scotland Rank 2022 University City/town
=30  1 University of Edinburgh Edinburgh
=86 2 University of Glasgow Glasgow
=158 3 University of Aberdeen Aberdeen
201–250  =4 University of Dundee Dundee
201–250  =4 University of St Andrews St Andrews

University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh, the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world and a part of Scotland’s capital city since 1583, is ranked first among the top universities in Scotland at 20th in the world. With its preserved mediaeval street plan and renovation-era buildings, the “old town” where the university is based is frozen in time. As both a hub of knowledge and a vibrant cultural centre that nurtures fringe theatre and comedy, the University of Edinburgh plays a distinct role in the city’s status. Then the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is held every August, feeds into this artistic streak.

University of Glasgow

The University of Glasgow, founded in 1451, is also the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world, home to Scotland’s oldest public museum and the largest Scottish university by student population. The University of Glasgow, ranked joint 77th in the world, is located in Glasgow’s West End, an area known for fashion and cultural diversity, in the Hillhead neighbourhood. The Victorian architecture of the city is now fashionably equipped with trendy but down-to-earth bars and clubs that appeal to the Glaswegian sense of fun, allowing it to compete for the title of the cultural capital of Scotland with Edinburgh.

Know the University of Edinburgh’s Acceptance Rate here!

University of St Andrews

The University of St Andrews, home to about 9,224 students, was founded in 1410, making it the oldest of the four ancient universities of Scotland.” In 2021, it was ranked 96th in the world and 17th among the top universities in the United Kingdom. St Andrews, a small university town in rural Fife on the east coast of Scotland, is renowned for its golf course and university, where more than a third of the town’s population is either studying or employed. The community environment here is hard to beat, with the university playing such a central role in local life.

Here’s a Complete Guide on Study in UK!

University of Aberdeen

In this year’s QS World University Rankings featuring many universities in Scotland, the University of Aberdeen is ranked 207th in the world and has a long history, dating back to 1495. Aberdeen is one of the students’ most cost-effective towns and provides a variety of opportunities and attractions in return, including many free to enjoy, such as the Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Maritime Museum. Located two miles north of the city centre in the Old Aberdeen neighbourhood, the University of Aberdeen’s main King’s College campus boasts an 11-acre botanical garden and a state-of-the-art library that opened in 2012 for £ 57 million.

Check Out: Oldest Universities in UK

University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde is located in the city of Glasgow, Scotland’s third-largest university in terms of student population (with about 15,600 undergraduates alone). Amongst the most popular universities in Scotland, this academic institution was established in 1796 and ranked 300th in the world, it is renowned for its creative and entrepreneurial ethos. The university now has a Technology and Innovation Center that “revolutionises the way researchers collaborate and innovate together in academia and industry” and is expected to improve both jobs and investment opportunities in Glasgow.

Apart from these, here are some more popular universities in Scotland!

  1. Glasgow Caledonian University
  2. Robert Gordon University
  3. Abertay University
  4. Edinburgh Napier University
  5. The University of the West of Scotland
  6. Queen Margaret University

Heriot-Watt University

Heriot-Watt University, founded in 1821 and located in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, is ranked joint 301st in the world. Previously based primarily in the city centre, the institution completed its relocation in the 1990s to the leafy suburb of Riccarton, approximately six miles from the city centre.

The new campus is set on 380 acres of parkland and features some of the region’s greatest sports facilities. Heriot-Watt has a sizable foreign student population, with 34 percent of its 9,615 students on its UK campuses coming from other countries.

University of Dundee

The University of Dundee ranked 319th in the world in 2021, claims to have the friendliest campus in Scotland and is located right in the heart of Dundee city centre. Thanks to a recent £200 million refurbishment work, many of the university’s facilities are extremely modern.

Dundee, located on the east coast of Scotland’s central lowlands, became known as the city of “jute, jam, and journalism” during its industrial boom in the nineteenth century. Dundee is recognised as the sunniest city in Scotland and boasts the mildest temperature in the region, which may interest you.

University of Stirling

The University of Stirling, one of the more recent additions to our list of top universities in Scotland, was established by the Royal Charter in 1967. The institution is located approximately two miles outside of Stirling city centre, where Stirling Castle rises atop the plug of an extinct volcano, providing a wonderful perspective from both above and below. The castle is surrounded by the city, with the high ground famed for its restored Victorian Gothic architecture and the lower ground offering modernity and commercialism in a city that mixes the best of old and new. Stirling was also named the UK’s most affordable city in 2019.

Student Life in Scotland

In order to empower students to develop their own views, ask questions and follow their ideas, Scottish universities put a lot of effort into it. As such, student life in Scotland gives you the ability to get involved: you could run for elections for the Student Union, set up a society, raise money for charity, write for the university newspaper, or play for sports teams at the university. There’s much more to student life in Scotland than lectures, whatever your desire.

Usually, students in Scotland live in shared houses or apartments, but typically there is a variety of accommodation available. In general, rent and living expenses are a little cheaper than in England, which makes Scotland a decent choice if you feel faint about London’s rates.

Applications for Universities in Scotland

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Centre (UCAS), a centralized service through which you can send several applications to universities in Scotland, supports all undergraduate applications to UK universities. You may apply for up to five courses for a small fee, or you may pay more if you choose to add more. For items like academic grades and English proficiency, you will need to show that you fulfil the entry criteria of the course, and you will need to compose a personal essay. You would also need a Tier 4 student visa if you’re from outside the EU or the European Economic Area (EAA).

Two options exist for postgraduate degrees – UK PASS, the postgraduate edition of UCAS or apply directly to the university. The majority of postgraduate courses would only consider students with or equal to a Bachelor’s degree.

Fees and Scholarships

Depending on the course you choose and the university you choose to study, tuition fees in Scotland are different. If you are from the UK, within the EU or outside the EU, and which year you are going to start, they vary once again so you will need to consult with the university to find out the exact price.

There are different choices in terms of financial assistance and scholarships. If you are from within the EU you are eligible to apply for funding from the Scotland Student Awards Agency (SAAS), which offers full-time students prizes of £ 1,000-3,000 (INR 1,00,000 – 3,00,000). There’s also the Saltire Scholarship, which provides students £ 4,000 (INR 4,00,000) to study in Scotland, whether you’re from India, China, the US or Canada. In addition to the numerous merit and need-based scholarships on offer at individual institutions, other UK scholarship programmes such as the Commonwealth Scholarship may also assist.


What is the best uni in Scotland?

University of Stirling
University of Dundee
Heriot-Watt University
University of Strathclyde
University of Aberdeen
University of St Andrews
University of Glasgow
University of Edinburgh

What is the most prestigious college in Scotland?

The University of Edinburgh

What is the hardest Scottish university to get into?

The University of Stirling is the most difficult to get into in Scotland, with a 20% acceptance rate.

What are the most popular university courses in Scotland?

Computer Science

Hence, we hope that this blog on universities in Scotland provided you with all the details you need! Want to study in Scotland? Our Leverage Edu experts are here to help you through the process of finding the right program and university, sorting out the admission essentials and sending a winning application! Sign up for a free session now.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *



20,000+ students realised their study abroad dream with us. Take the first step today.
Talk to an expert