Battle of the Universities: Edinburgh

Sacha Wylie·30 August 2023·5 min read
Battle of the Universities: Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a vibrant, multicultural city. As the capital of Scotland, it is famous for its history, Georgian architecture and celebration of the arts. Every year millions of tourists flock to see its attractions and attend the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo or the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Due to its prestigious reputation for education, Edinburgh is also a popular choice for many students. However, with four universities to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which one is the right fit. Here’s a comparison between the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier University to help get you started!

Academic Reputation:

Founded in 1582, the University of Edinburgh is one of the oldest in Scotland and the world. It is a Russell Group University and typically ranks higher, finishing 12th in the Guardian’s 2023 UK University League Table and 29th in the latest Times Higher Education global rankings. However, Edinburgh Napier still ranks highly, finishing 83rd in the UK and making it within the top 500 universities worldwide. Despite being established more recently, it has been voted the best modern university in Scotland. Notably, it also has much higher student satisfaction rates than the University of Edinburgh. Both universities also have high post-degree employment rates which should hopefully make finding a job after university a bit more straightforward.

Different Courses:

While overall rankings are useful to an extent, it may be more beneficial to consider the ranking of the specific course or career path you wish to pursue. Edinburgh Napier is renowned for innovative learning in Science, Criminology, English and Nursing. It also offers more nuanced postgraduate degrees, such as Publishing. On the other hand, the University of Edinburgh is well-known for more traditional degrees such as Law and Medicine. It also ranks first in the UK and third in the world for Veterinary Science. Both universities are research driven and focused on innovation, meaning a degree from either would be regarded highly by future employers.

Different types of campus:

It’s also worth considering the type of university experience you want to have. The University of Edinburgh is a city university, with buildings in the Old Town, Bristo Square and King’s Buildings. The main library overlooks the Meadows which can be a nice place to relax during exam season. As most of the university is a short walk from the Royal Mile and Princes Street, all of Edinburgh’s facilities and attractions will be at your fingertips. This is a great choice if you really want to feel like a resident of the city. On the other hand, Edinburgh Napier is more of a campus- style university, with three campuses dotted around the city. It can be quite nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre and may mean there is more of a student atmosphere. In addition, none of the campuses are too far from the city centre and great bus and tram links mean it is still easily accessible. Finally, as the campuses are divided into different faculties, all your classes will be in one location.

Societies and extra-curricular opportunities:

Both universities have excellent student unions. With a population of around 60,000 students, there are always new people to make friends with at the University of Edinburgh. It also has over 300 societies to choose from as well as numerous sports clubs. With only a third of the UofE’s student population, Edinburgh Napier has a more intimate and friendly atmosphere. Although it has fewer societies, there are still plenty of unique ones to choose from and it is very easy to start a new one!


In conclusion, both universities would provide an unforgettable student experience. For those wishing to live in the city centre and attend a more prestigious university, the University of Edinburgh may be the perfect choice. On the other hand, if you are keen to pursue a more specialised degree programme and participate in groundbreaking innovation, Edinburgh Napier may be the best option for you. Either university would be a good choice, and would hopefully make your experience of being a student in Edinburgh very enjoyable.