Our history

Now home to over 18,000 students from over 100 countries, we first welcomed 800 students as Napier Technical College in 1964. However our story goes back to the time of John Napier, the brilliant sixteenth century mathematician and philosopher from whom we take our name.

The past five decades have seen us grow into a globally renowned institution, while retaining our focus on professional knowledge and personalised learning. The timeline below marks key moments in that history.

1550 - 1944: Foundations are laid

  • 1550 John Napier, inventor of logarithms and the decimal point, is born in the tower house of Merchiston Castle.
  • 1958 Merchiston Tower is saved from demolition; restoration work begins with the intention of integrating the medieval structure into a new college to be named for John Napier.

1964 - 1992: Napier Technical College

  • 1964 Napier Technical College opens its doors to students at Merchiston. Courses included coopering, cabinet making, boat building, chemistry and engineering.
  • 1967 Renamed Napier College of Science & Technology.
  • 1974 Edinburgh College of Commerce merges with Napier to become Napier College of Commerce and Technology.
  • 1984 Her Majesty the Queen and HRH Duke of Edinburgh visit Sighthill campus and open the newly extended library.
  • 1986 Napier acquires the former St. Andrew’s College of Education at Craiglockhart. War poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon recuperated there during the First World War, when the hospital was used to treat shell-shocked officers.
  • 1987 The new Craiglockhart campus is opened by Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

1992 - 2009: Napier University

  • 1992 Napier is officially inaugurated as a University. Lord James Douglas Hamilton and Principal William Turmeau unveil the new University sign at Merchiston.
  • 1994 Napier acquires the magnificent buildings and grounds of the former Thomas Clouston Clinic at Craighouse in south-west Edinburgh.
  • 1996 A new Faculty of Health Studies is created within Napier University, following a merger with Lothian College of Health Studies and the Scottish Borders College of Nursing.
  • 1997 HRH Princess Anne visits and formally opens Craighouse campus. A sculpture of John Napier by Ukrainian artist Valentin Znoba is unveiled.
  • 2001 The £7m Jack Kilby Centre, a purpose-built 500 PC computer lab with 24-hour access, is opened at Merchiston by Nobel Prize winner Professor Jack Kilby.
  • 2003 Professor Joan K Stringer is inaugurated as Principal & Vice-Chancellor, becoming the first female Principal of a Scottish institution of higher education.
  • Craiglockhart campus2004: Craiglockhart Campus re-opens after extensive refurbishment, providing modern and iconic teaching accommodation.
  • 2005 Screen Academy Scotland is opened by First Minister Jack McConnell. It's a collaboration between Napier University and the Edinburgh College of Art. Patrons include Brian Cox, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Sean Connery.
  • 2007 Tim Waterstone, founder of Waterstone’s booksellers, is formally inaugurated as Chancellor of the University.
  • 2008 Napier University is rated Scotland’s best modern university by The Guardian University Guide.
  • 2009 We are ranked first in Scotland for graduate employability by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

2009 - present: Edinburgh Napier University