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Five Facts about Aberdeen University You Might Not Know

Here are a few facts about Aberdeen Uni that might just take alumni and undergrads alike by surprise.

Five Facts about Aberdeen University You Might Not Know

With the deadline for UCAS looming on the horizon, there will be many prospective students with their sights set on the University of Aberdeen.

While we all know that the institution has made the city a hub of life for young learners – there are a few facts about the Uni that might just take alumni and undergrads alike by surprise. 

When it all began.

Founded in 1495, the University of Aberdeen is classified as one of the ‘Ancient Universities of Scotland’, and is listed as the fifth oldest University in the English-speaking world.

The institution originally started as King’s College and it was William Elphinstone, then Bishop of Aberdeen, who petitioned Pope Alexander VI to form the facility. It is said that he had wanted to cure the ‘ignorance’ that he had witnessed in his new Parish, and founding Scotland’s third university was his way to counter this.

Skip ahead 500 years or so and he certainly seems to have succeeded, with the University hosting approximately 14,000 students with 650 undergraduate degree programmes. 

The University that we all know today was actually the result of a merger between the original King’s College and the newer Marischal College in 1860, which up until that point had been a rival institution.

Creature of Habit.

What would a rich heritage be without a tradition or two to uphold?

It is customary for the newly elected rector of the University to take part in a ceremony in order to be officially installed in the role. This includes the new Rector being carried on the shoulders of the students atop the student mascot – Angus the Bull – down the high street (in Old Aberdeen) to the St Machar Bar. From this point tradition also dictates the Rector must buy drinks for the student supporters gathered there.

The installation of the current rector, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party Maggie Chapman, took place in March 2015 and she is quoted as saying: “The first major test will be not falling off Angus the bull this week - either at my installation, or at Saturday's Torcher Parade. Surviving this challenge will set me up for the next three years!"

The role of rector is to represent the students on the University Court, an ancient duty, dating back to the University’s foundation in 1495.

The old dog learned new tricks.

While the ancient status of the University is an important factor in its identity, it is certainly not behind the times when it comes to the modern world of education, and is currently one of the largest wireless campuses in Europe.

In recent times many contemporary improvements have been made, including the award winning Sir Duncan Rice Library which was officially opened in 2012, thanks to £57 million of fundraising. The modern seven-storey building houses over a quarter of a million ancient and priceless books and manuscripts that have been collected over the University’s existence.

After working up a mental sweat in the shiny new library, pupils can also head on over to their Olympic standard sports village which was first opened in 2009, and features an Olympic Swimming pool and a FIFA approved indoor football pitch.  

Nobel Deeds.

Over the years the pioneers of the University of Aberdeen have been recognized for many academic achievements, including five Nobel Prizes.

The prizes were awarded for Physics, Medicine, Peace and Chemistry (once in 1921 and once in 1952).

Amongst the work that was recognized for these awards was the research conducted by Professor JJ R Macleod along with Frederick Banting which led to the development of insulin being used as a treatment for diabetes.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1947 to Lord Boyd Orr, a previous Director of the Rowett Institute and Professor of Agriculture, to acknowledge his contribution to fight worldwide hunger. This was a result of both his work as the Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and his scientific research into nutrition. 


Social Studies.

As we all know – an education isn’t all about books and test results, and the social life of students is an important aspect of the overall University experience.

The Student clubs and societies at Aberdeen University Students' Association (AUSA) are highly rated in the UK, and with over 150 sports clubs and societies to choose from, most attendees would be hard pushed to be unable to find something of interest!

From the traditional to the obscure, there’s a wide range of hobbies covered – so whether you’re more into football or Ultimate Frisbee – it’s probably covered at the University of Aberdeen.


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