The definitive guide to studying abroad in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is really two cities for the price of one. Its 'Old Town' speaks of its ancient heritage, represented by a medieval castle set against the craggy outcrop of 'Arthur's Seat'. The neoclassical 'New Town', with its broad cobbled streets and handsome Georgian houses, invites you to stroll and appreciate the city's architecture and stunning natural setting. It's definitely an inspiring place to study abroad.

Edinburgh from near Arthur’s Seat, copyright CC User Joe Dunckley on Flickr

Educational endeavor is deeply rooted in Edinburgh's history. The city was at the heart of the 'Scottish Enlightenment', a movement in the 18th century that saw an outpouring of scholastic accomplishments driven by optimistic thinkers who argued for the fundamental importance of humanity as a force for good whilst, at the same time, challenging all forms of authority that could not be justified by reason. The movement had a far-reaching impact in the rest of Europe and the United States.

But Edinburgh is doesn't rely on former glories. Today, it is home to several leading art galleries, some with significant contemporary collections, has an innovative theatre scene and some great live music venues. Add to this its annual 'Fringe Festival', dedicated to alternative arts, and the city really is the perfect location to appreciate the past while looking to the future.


Some schools worth checking out

McEwan Hall, University of Edinburgh, copyright CC User dun_deagh on Flickr

The University of Edinburgh is situated in the centre of town, with science and engineering departments 3.2 kilometres south of the city. Established by a Royal Charter granted by King James VI in 1582, this prestigious university offers courses in the arts, humanities, politics, history and science. It is it particularly highly regarded in the field of medicine. Its alumni include a signatory of the United States' Declaration of Independence and several distinguished politicians.

Edinburgh Napier University is located 3.2 kms north of the centre. It began life as a Technical College in 1964, eventually amalgamating with a college of Science & Technology and a college of Commerce to become the university we see today. Edinburgh Napier offers a wide range of cross-disciplinary courses which combine theory and practice in a way that enables graduates to 'hit the ground running' with their careers.

Heriot-Watt University is based at a campus, set in beautiful parkland, 11.2 kms west of the city centre. It offers degree programmes in science, engineering, design, business and languages whilst maintaining close relationships with business and industry to ensure that courses are up-to-date and accredited by all the relevant professional bodies. It has a special 'Foundation pathway' course aimed at helping International students get their English up to speed.


THE places for student housing in Edinburgh

Street in New Town, Copyright CC User tiexano on Flickr

New Town isn't really close to any of Edinburgh's campuses but - those who can afford to - often choose to live here anyway, drawn by its quaint cobbled streets, spacious apartments and great cafes.

Old Town is very convenient for University of Edinburgh students and has lots going on, with many of the city's clubs located towards the nearby Grassmarket area.

Bruntsfield is good for Napier students and is only a 10-minute walk from the pubs of central Edinburgh. Nearby Marchmont is slightly cheaper and is close to 'Meadows', a large park which is great for kicking a football around and playing frisbee. Tollcross is also popular as it's only a 5-minute walk from the clubs of Old Town.

Students at Heriot-Watt usually try to find housing towards the west of the city, in places such as Dalry, Gorgie, Chesser, Slateford, and Balerno.

All of Edinburgh's universities have on-campus, university owned rooms and flats available. Each college's accommodation offices manage them, so you should contact them for details. Prices vary depending on whether they are catered or self catered.

If you decide to find your own housing, check out the Studentpad and Accommodation for Students websites aimed at students looking for rooms, flats or flat mates. Letting Web and City Lets are agencies offering private rented accommodation in Edinburgh.


The cost of education in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile at dusk, copyright CC User byronv2 on Flickr

Students deemed eligible and residing in the European Union may be able to get their fees paid in part or in full by the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS). Other International Students should expect to pay tuition fess from around £13,000 per annum.

All the colleges above have grants and bursaries available for international students, so do check the website of the one you are thinking of applying to.

You'll also find useful 'cost of living' calculators to help you assess what your annual expenses, in addition to tuition fees, may be.


You're here now, so what's next?

St Giles Cathedral during the Fringe Festival, copyright CC User Hamish Irvine on Flickr

All Edinburgh's universities have International Student Support sites or teams that provide a dedicated advisory service for international students on non-academic and welfare matters such as immigration, employment, finance and other concerns. Some also hold open days.

The universities also have hundreds of clubs and societies run for students by students. They cover sports, subject related fields and some that are just for fun! Volunteering in the community, with an arts organization or at the 'Fringe Festival' is also a great way to meet new people.

The Students' Union, a nationwide organization representing students and lobbying for their interests, also has an International Students' Association subsection. It's free to join. 

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