Heriot watt University named after

Heriot watt University named after

Heriot-Watt is a global university with strong, abiding links across Europe and the rest of the world. We are proud that since our foundation in 1821, we have been outward looking pioneers of education, in pursuit of knowledge to the benefit of society and the world.

Pioneering Education since 1821

In 1821 Edinburgh was at the heart of the Scottish Enlightenment which viewed education as a means to moral and material self-improvement and a way to tackle the challenges of the industrial revolution.

Leonard Horner, a linen merchant and social reformer, came up with the idea of providing evening classes for fees that working men could afford. With the financial backing from influential Edinburgh citizens, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Cockburn, judge and conservationist and the Craig family of Riccarton, The Edinburgh School of Arts – the first Mechanics Institute in the UK, was established.

Heriot watt University named after

Origins of our name

In 1852 The Edinburgh School of Arts changed its name to become the Watt Institution and School of Arts, in honour of the great scottish inventor, mechanical engineer and chemist, James Watt, inventor of the steam engine. George Heriot was a 16th century philanthropist and financier to King James. In 1855 we became Heriot-Watt college and in 1966 Heriot-Watt University was established by Royal Charter.

Both Heriot and Watt were two successful, pioneering professionals of their time, whose skills and attitudes are still reflected in the ethos of the University today

Opportunities for women

Twenty years before legislation forced Scottish universities to open their doors to women, Mary Burton led a successful campaign to persuade the Directors of the Watt Institution to admit women students. This was a truly radical step. Mary Burton went on to become the first woman on the School’s Board of Directors. Of the 2,000 students studying at Heriot-Watt college in 1885, 15 per cent were women. Today one of the University’s school buildings is named after her.

Heriot watt University named after

Leaders in ideas and solutions

When the School of Arts was established in 1821 its purpose was to “address societal needs by incorporating fundamental scientific thinking and research into engineering solutions”.