The University’s roots go back to 1821 with the establishment of the School of Arts of Edinburgh.

The University is therefore celebrating this year its bicentenary anniversary. The School of Arts was the world’s first Mechanics Institute, marking the start of a worldwide movement that would revolutionise access to education in science and technology for ordinary people with the purpose of addressing societal needs. The institution developed into the Watt Institution and School of Arts in 1852 and, in 1855, the Heriot-Watt College with the focus on “the practical application of knowledge and learning for the betterment of society” remaining a defining characteristic. In 1966 the College became Heriot-Watt University, established by Royal Charter, since which time we have continued to focus on innovating and exchanging knowledge for the benefit of society, delivering professionally relevant and career-focused teaching, and developing world-leading innovative research that provides practical solutions to contemporary issues.

  • In 1989, we opened our Orkney campus, as part of the International Centre for Island Technology.
  • In 1992, our last departments in Edinburgh relocated to our purpose-built 380 acre parkland Edinburgh campus situated on the western edge of the city.
  • In 1998 our Scottish Borders campus hosting our School of Textiles and Design was born from our merger with the Scottish College of Textiles.
  • In 2005, we became the first UK university to create an overseas campus in Dubai’s International Academic City.
  • In 2014, we opened our state-of-the-art campus in Putrajaya, Malaysia, serving the South East Asia region and beyond.
  • In 2019 we completed the restoration of Panmure House, the home of economist, Adam Smith, off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, as a place for debate and wider social enlightenment.
  • Our new state-of-the-art campus in Knowledge Park in Dubai has just opened its doors to students this April; it includes a dedicated student hub, a central student services centre, enhanced library, social learning spaces and much much more.