Glasgow Caledonian University

Coordinates: 55°52′02″N 4°15′01″W / 55.86722°N 4.25016°W / 55.86722; -4.25016
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Glasgow Caledonian University
MottoFor the Common Weal
TypePublic university
Established1993 (1875)
Academic affiliation
EUA, ACU, Universities UK, Universities Scotland, Florence Network, Talloires Network
Endowment£0.43 million (2020)[1]
ChancellorAnnie Lennox
Principal & Vice-ChancellorSteve Decent
Administrative staff
Students17,540 (2019/20)[2]
Undergraduates14,165 (2019/20)[2]
Postgraduates3,375 (2019/20)[2]

Glasgow Caledonian University (Scottish Gaelic: Oilthigh Chailleannach Ghlaschu, IPA: [ˈɔlhɪj ˈxaʎan̪ˠəx ˈɣl̪ˠas̪əxu]), informally GCU, Caledonian or Caley, is a public university in Glasgow, Scotland. It was formed in 1993 by the merger of The Queen's College, Glasgow (founded in 1875) and Glasgow Polytechnic (founded in 1991).[3] It is located in the Cowcaddens district, just to the immediate north of the city centre, and is Glasgow's third university, after the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde.

In June 2017, the university's New York partner institution, which was founded in 2013, was granted permission to award degrees in the state, the first higher education institution founded by a foreign university to achieve this status.[4] In June 2023, GCU noted that they planned to sell their New York campus as it had not lived up to its potential.[5]


The university traces its origin from The Queen's College, Glasgow (founded 1875), and the Glasgow College of Technology (founded 1971). The Queen's College, which specialised in providing training in domestic science, received the royal accolade of being named after Queen Elizabeth II in its centenary celebrations in 1975. Queen Elizabeth was, herself, patron of the college since 1944.[6] Glasgow Polytechnic, which was one of the largest central institutions in Scotland, offered externally validated degrees and diplomas in engineering, science, and the humanities: the first of which was a BA in Optics, followed by degrees in Social Sciences (1973) and Nursing (1977).[7]

On 1 April 1993, the two institutions amalgamated to form Glasgow Caledonian University. The new university took its name from Caledonia, the poetic Latin name for present-day Scotland. The main campus of the university is built on the site of the former Buchanan Street Station, built by the Caledonian Railway.

Independent research carried out in 2015 revealed that the university contributes over £480m to Scotland's economy each year with the quantifiable lifetime premium of a one-year class of graduates estimated at £400m, bringing the university's total annual economic impact to around £880m in Scotland alone.[8][unreliable source?]

Annie Lennox was installed as GCU's first female chancellor,[9] taking over the role from Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, at a ceremony in July 2018.[10] Stephen Decent is the principal and vice-chancellor of the university, appointed in 2023.

Coat of arms and motto[edit]

The university's coat of arms is the work of university academic and artist Malcolm Lochhead and draws on four elements from the coat of arms of the university's predecessor institutions. The oak tree (of St. Mungo's legend) and the Book of Knowledge were borrowed from the arms of Glasgow Polytechnic while the saltire ermine and the crossed keys (intended to represent the "unlocking" of the Book of Knowledge) were taken from the arms of The Queen's College. A visual feature was added to the new arms with the illuminated capital letters in the Book's paragraphs reading: G C U (the three-letter abbreviation of the university's name). The coat of arms was matriculated by the Lord Lyon King of Arms and is inscribed into university degree parchments. The university's motto: "for the common weal", which has been adopted since 1975, features in the full design of the arms.[11]


The university's Glasgow campus at dusk

GCU's main campus is located in the Cowcaddens area of the city, with most of the buildings dating back to the early 1970s and the construction of the Glasgow College of Technology over the former site of Buchanan Street railway station.

A second campus in London is home to the British School of Fashion. In September 2013 the university founded Glasgow Caledonian New York College, which is an independent partner institution whose Wooster Street campus is based in the city's SoHo district.[12]

The Saltire Centre

Organisation and administration[edit]

Academic schools[edit]

Computing, Engineering and Built Environment[edit]

GCU's IT, engineering and construction experience is housed within the School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment.[13] The school is composed of eight departments:

  • Applied Science (Control, Instrumentation and Forensics)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Construction and Surveying
  • Civil Engineering and Environmental Management
  • Applied Computer Games
  • Computing
  • Cyber Security and Networks

The school's links with industry include the £1.2m Doble Innovation Centre for On-Line Systems, which works on diagnostic test instruments and expert consulting and knowledge exchange services for the electric power industry.[citation needed] GCU is also a partner in five of the Scottish government-funded collaborative innovation centres which bring knowledge from higher education institutions to solve real-world business challenges – these are DataLab, the Digital Health and Care Institute, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, Oil and Gas Innovation Centre and CENSIS (sensors and imaging systems).[citation needed]

The school performs research into built environment and connections with industry leaders in growing markets such as games design. The school also has a Centre for Climate Justice, which is involved in policy relevant research for development, teaching and learning, and broadening knowledge in the area of climate justice.

The Glasgow School for Business and Society[edit]

The Glasgow School for Business and Society brings together disciplines in business, law and social sciences, teaching and research in fashion, tourism, risk management, finance and multimedia journalism.

The school leads the university-wide delivery of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRiME), a United Nations Global Compact-backed initiative which places social responsibility, ethics and sustainability at the top of the agenda for training future leaders. GCU became a PRiME signatory in January 2012 and is a founding member of the UK and Ireland PRiME Chapter.

GCU is a member of Business in the Community (BITC) Scotland and school students and staff manage the Work Ready Action Programme (WRAP), which sees students mentor school pupils from the Glasgow area.

In 2015, the school's 10 BA Business Programme Set and its MSc International Fashion Marketing Programmes achieved the EPAS accreditation, becoming the first institution in Scotland and one of only 69 recognised worldwide.[citation needed]

It is designated a centre of excellence by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment and is the only business school to offer triple-accredited degrees in financial services.[citation needed] The school is also home to the Moffat Centre, one of the world's university research centres in tourism and travel. freecoursesite

The school is composed of the following three departments:

  • Department of Law, Economics, Accountancy & Risk
  • Department of Business Management
  • Department of Social Sciences, Media & Journalism

Health and Life Sciences[edit]

The School of Health and Life Sciences is one of Scotland's largest research and teaching centres in health care and life sciences;[14][15] Scotland's only provider of optometry training; and home to an eye clinic, based on campus. GCU is ranked in the Top 20 in the UK for allied health research at world-leading and internationally excellent standards.[16] The school is, since 1993, Scotland's only designated World Health Organization Collaborating Centre (WHOCC) for Nursing and Midwifery Education, Research, and Practice.[17] It is also home to the Scottish Ambulance Academy; the only educational establishment in the UK to be formally endorsed by the College of Paramedics and certified by the Health and Care Professions Council, providing professional training for paramedics on behalf of the Scottish Ambulance Service.[18] September 2017 saw the first intake of the BSc Paramedic Science course, the first direct-entry undergraduate paramedic course available in Scotland. The school is composed of the following three departments:

  • Department of Nursing and Community Health
  • Department of Psychology, Social Work and Allied Health Sciences
  • Department of Life Sciences


By statute,[19] the university maintains two internal institutions: the University Court and the University Senate. The University Court is the supreme governing body of the university and is composed of a number of 'governors', statutory mandated with overseeing its overall strategic direction and appointing both the chancellor and the principal (and vice-chancellor) of the university. The university's principal and vice-chancellor and the president of the Students' Association are ex officio governors of the Court. The University Senate, on the other hand, is statutory tasked with the overall planning, co-ordination, development and supervision of the university's academic affairs. University degrees and fellowship as well as academic honours and distinctions are awarded by and in the name of the Court, with the advice of the Senate. The current chair of the Court is Rob Woodward[20] and the Senate is presided over by the university's principal and vice-chancellor, currently Stephen Decent.

Academic profile[edit]

GCU offers academic programmes in all of the Scottish Funding Council funding groups but medicine, dentistry and teacher education. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise gave the university an 'internationally recognised' research profile in a multitude of disciplines. Over 70% of the university's research submissions were judged as being internationally recognised and 30% were deemed world-leading or of international excellence.[21] In 2015, the QAA awarded the university its highest judgement for academic standards, whilst praising the university's innovative academic approaches.[22] In 2013, GCU was awarded the HR Excellence in Research Award by the European Commission, in recognition of its commitment to the development of researchers.[23] This has been retained in 2015 following its two-year review.


According to the Research Excellence Framework, GCU is the top modern university in Scotland by research power.[citation needed] The university's social policy research impact at world-leading levels has ranked GCU as in the top 10 in the UK.[citation needed]

The university has three university-wide institutes that engage in cross-disciplinary research: The Institute for Applied Health Research, which carries out research on a range of health-related topics; The Institute for Sustainable Engineering and Technology Research, which carries out research on a range of disciplines aimed at minimising impact on the environment; and The Institute for Society and Social Justice Research, which carries out research on the topics of citizenship and participation, crime and justice, and gender and economy.

The university also has research centres including The Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, the Centre for Climate Justice and the Women in Scotland's (WiSE) Economy Research Centre.


National rankings
Complete (2024)[24]79
Guardian (2024)[25]40
Times / Sunday Times (2024)[26]50
Global rankings
QS (2024)[27]1001–1200
THE (2024)[28]601–800

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) has been ranked in the world's top 150 young universities by the Times Higher Education's 200 under age of 50 Rankings 2017[29]

GCU is the top modern university in Scotland for research power (REF 2014 rankings).[30]

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) UK Performance Indicators in Higher Education, GCU has a completion rate of 80.9 per cent, above the sector average of 80.6 per cent for Scotland.[31]

97% of GCU graduates are in work or further study six months after graduation, according to HESA.[32]

The Times Higher Education 2018 UK Student Experience survey named GCU as the second most improved university in the UK for student experience, up from 99th to joint 67th.[33]

It is also a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, Universities UK, Universities Scotland, the Florence Network, the Talloires Network, the Erasmus+ Programme, and the Santander Universities Network.

Magnus Magnusson Fellowship[edit]

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson at her induction as a Magnus Magnusson Fellow in 2011

The Magnus Magnusson Fellowship, named in honour of former University Chancellor Magnus Magnusson, is an intellectual group based at the university and comprises leading international figures from a variety of backgrounds.[34] The fellowship meets annually to debate and agree action on issues of major concern to society, both locally and globally. It holds an annual lecture that alternates between Glasgow, London, and Reykjavík (Magnusson's birthplace).

Muhammad Yunus gave the inaugural Magnusson Fellowship Lecture in 2008 and was formally inducted as one of the first cohort of fellowship members. Fellowship members include Will Hutton (Magnusson Fellow, 2010), former President of Ireland Mary Robinson (Magnusson Fellow, 2011), and Renata Salecl (Magnusson Fellow, 2012).

Widening access[edit]

Glasgow Caledonian University is one of only two universities in Scotland to meet the Scottish Government's Commission for Widening Access target, which requires students from deprived areas to make up 20 per cent of entrants by 2030.[35]

Global Networks[edit]


The university has been working with the Caledonian College of Engineering (now the National University of Science and Technology, Oman) since 1996 and offers its largest programme of transnational education there to undergraduate and postgraduate students.


The award-winning Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing (GCCN) is a partnership between GCU and the Grameen Healthcare Trust. Established as a social business in 2010, GCCN is raising healthcare education provision to an international standard and transforming the lives of young women across Bangladesh and the health and wellbeing of the population they serve.[citation needed]

South Africa[edit]

The university has a history of interaction with South Africa and a number of its leading figures. It was the first university to award Nelson Mandela an honorary doctorate upon his release from prison in 1990 in recognition of his leadership during the anti-apartheid movement.[36][37] In accepting the honour, Mandela asked the university to offer support for reconstruction and development in South Africa and the university developed in this regard several projects to assist in research and training at a number of South African universities.[37] Mandela officially received the honorary degree in June 1996 at a special ceremony in Buckingham Palace,[38] and suggested the renaming of the university's Health Building after his close associate, Govan Mbeki, who was imprisoned in the cell next to him on Robben Island. The Govan Mbeki Building was officially inaugurated by Mbeki's son, President Thabo Mbeki, in June 2001 and a specially-commissioned portrait of Nelson Mandela was unveiled that year at the Building's foyer by Mandela's wife, Graça Machel.[37] The university is also home to two significant scholarly collections on South Africa: the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Scotland Archive and the George Johannes Collection. In 2012, GCU began designing and developing work-based programmes in railway operations management for Transnet Freight Rail, South Africa's largest freight rail organisation.[39]

Cultural Fellows[edit]

The Caledonian Cultural Fellows Initiative was set up in 2009 with the aim of enhancing university cultural life and promoting cultural engagement with wider community. Liz Lochhead, the Scots Makar, is the current honorary president of the fellowship, whose membership includes writer Anne Donovan, poet and novelist Jackie Kay, and artist Toby Paterson.[40]

Caledonian Club[edit]

The Caledonian Club is a social and community engagement initiative involving staff and students coaching young people and their families in advancing their learning and life skills, while university-based researchers carry out long-term analysis into the process as part of a wider university research agenda into life-long learning. In 2011, the Club developed a project named 'The Tale of Two Sporting Cities', with the aim of engaging cultural exchanges between primary schools in Glasgow and London and assessing the sporting and cultural legacy of the 2012 London Summer Olympics and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.[41]

Student life[edit]

Students' Association[edit]

Glasgow Caledonian University Students' Association (GCUSA) is the students' association of Glasgow Caledonian University. It represents and enables Glasgow Caledonian University students to enhance all aspects of their student experience.[42] It is located in the Students' Association Building on the Glasgow Campus and has an office at GCU London.[43] All Glasgow Caledonian University students are automatically admitted to its membership upon matriculation.

In 2011, the Association was awarded the coveted title of Students' Union of the Year by NUS Scotland.[44]

The Students' Association runs sports clubs like Glasgow Caledonian University RFC, societies, student magazine (The EDIT)[2],[45] student radio station (Radio Caley),[46] active lifestyles programme and an events programme.[47] At a national level the Students' Association is affiliated to the National Union of Students (NUS) which lobbies and campaigns for students at a Scottish and UK level.


Bedellus carrying the university's ceremonial mace

GCU holds its annual graduation ceremonies during the summer and autumn and its academic attire is made by robe-maker Ede & Ravenscroft. Under the university's academic dress code, the wearing of the customary mortar boards is disallowed, as it is not part of the official academic attire that consists of gowns and hoods only, individual to each award conferred.[48] Graduates traditionally receive their degrees at graduation ceremonies by being "capped" on the head with the Chancellor's hat, in a gesture that signifies the Chancellor's authority and status within the university.[49] The postnominals for university graduates are prescribed with the abbreviation GlasCal.[50]

Notable staff and alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Financial Statements 2019-20". Glasgow Caledonian University. p. 20. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Where do HE students study?". Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Collection GP - Glasgow Polytechnic (formerly Glasgow College, Glasgow College of Technology) records". Glasgow Caledonian University Archives.
  4. ^ "US campus given degree rights". BBC News. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  5. ^ Jaschik, Scott. "Scottish University to Sell New York City Campus". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  6. ^ GASHE. "Queen's College, Glasgow". Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  7. ^ GASHE. "Glasgow College of Technology". Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  8. ^ GCU. "GCU Economic Impact" (PDF). Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Annie Lennox named university chancellor". BBC News. 23 November 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Annie Lennox installed as GCU chancellor". BBC News. 2 July 2018. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  11. ^ GCU. "The University Coat of Arms and Motto". Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  12. ^ "First British university launches campus in New York".
  13. ^ "Home | Computing, Engineering and Built Environment". 14 October 2022.
  14. ^ NHSCGC. "School, College, University". Retrieved 5 September 2012.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ GCU. "School of Health and Life Sciences". Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  16. ^ Research Excellence Framework 2014
  17. ^ World Health Organisation. "WHO Collaborating Centres". Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  18. ^ GCU. "Scottish Ambulance Academy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  19. ^ Crown. "GCU Order of Council 2010". Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  20. ^ "News & Events | Glasgow Caledonian University | Scotland, UK". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  21. ^ GCU. "RAE 2008". Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  22. ^ QAA. "Glasgow Caledonian University ELIR" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  23. ^ GCU. "GCU achieves HR Excellence in Research Award". Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  24. ^ "Complete University Guide 2024". The Complete University Guide. 7 June 2023.
  25. ^ "Guardian University Guide 2024". The Guardian. 9 September 2023.
  26. ^ "Good University Guide 2024". The Times. 15 September 2023.
  27. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2024". Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. 27 June 2023.
  28. ^ "THE World University Rankings 2024". Times Higher Education. 28 September 2023.
  29. ^ "News & Events | Glasgow Caledonian University | Scotland, UK". Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  30. ^ "University Research Excellence Framework 2014 – the full rankings". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  31. ^ "More students than ever gaining a degree at Glasgow Caledonian University". Evening Times. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  32. ^ "UK Performance Indicators 2015/16: Employment of leavers | HESA". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  33. ^ "University of St Andrews enters UK top ten league". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  34. ^ GCU. "Magnus Magnusson Fellowship". Archived from the original on 19 August 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  35. ^ "'Slow progress' in widening access to university, reports Scottish Funding Council". Holyrood Magazine. 26 September 2017. Archived from the original on 22 June 2018. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  36. ^ BBC (19 May 2000). "Degree honour for Mbeki". BBC News. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  37. ^ a b c GCU. "GCU's links with South Africa". Archived from the original on 20 June 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  38. ^ THE. "Nelson Mandela receives eight honorary degrees at Buckingham Palace". Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  39. ^ GCU. "GCU delivers Railway Operations Management programme in South Africa". Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  40. ^ GCU. "Cultural Fellows". Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  41. ^ GCU. "Caledonian Club". Archived from the original on 16 November 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  42. ^ [1] Archived 28 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ "GCU Students' Association". 7 February 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  44. ^ GCU. "Double success for GCU at the NUS Scotland Awards". Archived from the original on 20 June 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  45. ^ "GCU Students' Association". 7 February 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  46. ^ "GCU Student Radio". Radio Caley. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  47. ^ "GCU Students' Association". 7 February 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  48. ^ GCU. "Graduation". Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  49. ^ GCU. "Graduation Ceremony". Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  50. ^ Oxford University. "University Calendar 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  51. ^ "Degrees day at Glasgow Caledonian University". Herald Scotland. 15 November 1996. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  52. ^ "Professor Lesley McMillan elected as RSE Fellow | Scottish Institute for Policing Research". Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  53. ^ "GCU congratulates alumnus Hassan Rouhani on his election as the next President of Iran". GCU University News and Events. 19 June 2013.

External links[edit]

55°52′02″N 4°15′01″W / 55.86722°N 4.25016°W / 55.86722; -4.25016