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University of the West of Scotland


University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland
Motto Accingere in Ardua
Established 1897 (2007)
Type Public
Chancellor Dame Elish Angiolini
Principal Professor Craig Mahoney[1]
Chairman of the Court Ian Welsh
Administrative staff
Students 13,040 (2006)[2]
18,000+ (2007 est.)[3]
Undergraduates 11,395[2]
Postgraduates 1,635[2]
Location Paisley, Ayr, Hamilton, Dumfries, Scotland
Colours Red, black and white               
Mascot Francesca the Phoenix (Sports Union), Burnie the Pyro (American Football), Wolfie Wolf (Rugby)
Affiliations Million+, Scottish Universities Physics Alliance

The University of the West of Scotland is a university operating from four campuses in south-western Scotland, in the towns of Paisley, Hamilton, Dumfries and Ayr. The present institution dates from August 2007, following the merger of the University of Paisley with Bell College, Hamilton. It can trace its roots to the late 19th century, and has undergone numerous name changes and mergers over the last century, reflecting its gradual expansion throughout the region.

Holding a regional reputation for vocational undergraduate and post-graduate courses the University currently has over 18,000 students, with approximately 1300 staff, spread across six schools of learning.

The Crichton Campus in Dumfries is maintained in partnership with a number of other institutions, including the University of Glasgow.

The university's highest ever ranking for UK Institutions came in 2009 when the Complete Universities Guide placed UWS 62 out of 113 universities. [4] In 2015, UWS was ranked 118th out of 126 universities in the same league table.


  • History 1
    • Paisley Campus 1.1
    • Ayr Campus 1.2
    • Dumfries Campus 1.3
    • Hamilton Campus 1.4
    • Glasgow Creative Enterprise Cluster 1.5
  • Merger 2
  • Schools 3
  • Student accommodation 4
  • Student Life 5
    • Student Unions 5.1
    • UWS Radio 5.2
    • Student Associations 5.3
  • SAUWS 6
  • CUCSA 7
  • Sports 8
    • List of Sports 8.1
  • Partner Institutions 9
    • America 9.1
    • Select European Universities 9.2
  • Notable People and Alumni 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Although classified as a new university, the University of the West of Scotland has a rich, diverse history inherited from the various institutions that preceded it, including the University of Paisley, Bell College of Technology and Craigie College of Education.

Paisley Campus

At the time of the Industrial Revolution Paisley was renowned for thread weaving. The Coats mill was run by two brothers, Peter and Thomas Coats. These men, children of the Enlightenment espoused liberal ideals and became noted philanthropists. As members of the Philosophical Institution, founded in 1808 the Coats donated a museum and library to the town, funded the building of the Coats observatory and promoted education throughout Paisley.[5][6]

The Philosophical Institution, helped establish the School of Arts in 1836, which become a Government School of Design in 1846, one of twenty similar institutions established in UK manufacturing centres from 1837-1851. They were set up to improve the quality of the country's product design through training in design for industry. Peter Coats was director of both Paisley Philosophical Institution and the Government School of Design. Later, the Design schools were renamed Schools of Art, and once again as Schools of Art and Science.

In 1897 Princess Louise laid the foundation stone of a grand new building for the College. The design was the winner of an architectural competition and partially funded by local industrialists (Peter Brough, and Thomas Coats both contributed).

By the start of the twentieth century, Paisley Technical College and School of Art, (as it was known from 1904) was a centre for teaching the University of London External Programme. Perhaps the most famous principal of the College was Lewis Fry Richardson, FRS   principal from 1922 to 1940. A mathematician, physicist, meteorologist, psychologist and pacifist who pioneered modern mathematical techniques of weather forecasting, as well as the application of similar techniques to studying war. He also carried out ground breaking work on fractals.

Throughout the first half of the century the institution had a financial struggle. After the second world war Central Institution status provided a regular Government income but unfortunately also meant closing the school of Art, and ceding students to Glasgow School of Art. The new entity thus became Paisley College of Technology; a Government funded Central Institution in 1950. In the 1960s a large physical expansion took place alongside the Neo-Classical original building on the main 20 acre (81,000 m²) Paisley town centre site.

At the time Paisley, in common with other Central Institutions and the former Polytechnics, already offered a range of degrees under the Council for National Academic Awards. With the Further and Higher Education Act of 1992, the Paisley College of Technology was granted the title University of Paisley and was established as a University with a Royal Charter and degree awarding powers. Today, this institution forms Paisley Campus of the University.

Ayr Campus

The establishment of the University of Paisley prompted a merger with Craigie College of Education in Ayr in 1993, and led to the incorporation of Nursing colleges in the town. The Ayr Campus was operated by the University of Paisley before the merger that established UWS. Set in 20 acres (81,000 m2) of the old parkland of Craigie House bordering the River Ayr, the campus also houses the West of Scotland Management Centre, the Business School’s management training and development facility. A new £71.2 million campus for the University in Ayr, shared with the Scottish Agricultural College, designed by international architecture practice RMJM, on a riverside site adjacent to the previous campus, was completed and opened in August 2011.

Dumfries Campus

The Crichton University Campus in Dumfries is the result of a joint project between the University of Paisley (now the University of the West of Scotland), the University of Glasgow, Dumfries and Galloway College and the Open University. The campus mainly offers business, computing and, since the merger with Bell College, Nursing courses. Established in 1999 to provide a hub for higher education in the south-west of Scotland, the Crichton Campus has developed into an essential element in the regeneration of the Dumfries and Galloway economy.

Students at the Crichton Campus also have the benefit of a dedicated Students' Association which operates from its offices in the Dumfries and Galloway College building. The Crichton University Campus Students' Association (CUCSA) is a collective body of volunteers comprising elected representatives from both UWS and the University of Glasgow. Although the existing budget for CUCSA is tiny in comparison to the main students' association, SAUWS, events are held roughly every month in addition to the expected freshers' week at the start of the academic year.

Hamilton Campus

The Hamilton campus was founded in 1972 as the Bell College of Technology. The main campus was constructed in Almada Street, Hamilton, South Lanarkshire. A "Memorandum of Understanding" between the College and the University of Strathclyde was signed in 1993 to allow the College to offer degree level courses. In 1995, the Lanarkshire and Dumfries & Galloway Colleges of Nursing & Midwifery were amalgamated into Bell College.

Glasgow Creative Enterprise Cluster

Between 2008 and 2010 UWS opened offices in Glasgow, with a focus on the creative industries. The School of Media, Culture & Society has offices in Film City Glasgow and the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA). This forms a metropolitan base for research, performance, events and exhibitions, work with industry, and knowledge exchange activities, connecting the university's four campuses with the city where the media and arts sector is most concentrated in the west of Scotland.


On 1 August 2007, the University of Paisley merged with Bell College, a higher education college based in Hamilton. On 30 November 2007, the Privy Council approved the name University of the West of Scotland for the merged institution.

The name change was resisted by many in Paisley, seeing it as a break with tradition and the connections binding the previous university to the town. The 'Keep It Paisley' campaign attracted a number of supporters, amongst them local MP and then Secretary of State for Scotland, Douglas Alexander.

The merged institution serves over 18,000 students and is the largest 'new university' in Scotland. The Principal and Vice-Chancellor is Professor Craig Mahoney.


The University of the West of Scotland is organised into six schools:[7]

  • School of Business and Enterprise
  • School of Computing & Engineering
  • School of Education
  • School of Health, Nursing & Midwifery
  • School of Media, Culture & Society
  • School of Science & Sport

The university offers over 100 degree courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and has a rapidly growing number of doctoral students. It also carries out research and consultancy work for industry, and is ranked second in Scotland for the number of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships with businesses. The University attained Skillset Media Academy status in August 2010. Many courses at the University of the West of Scotland have an emphasis on vocational skills and offer students the option of spending a year working in industry at home or abroad. Currently the university's School of Education is the sixth best in the UK according to the 2016 Complete University Guide.[8]

The University has also worked with NHS Ayrshire and Arran resulting in a partnership in 2012 in the renaming of Ayr Hospital to University Hospital Ayr and Crosshouse Hospital to University Hospital Crosshouse.

Student accommodation

A great way to meet new people, make new friends, and gain some independence at University is to life on campus. The University has a number of halls of residence across the university, ranging from modern en-suite/studio flats at Ayr Campus to furnished flats within Paisley. Students at Dumfries may apply for a place within the University of Glasgow managed accommodation at the Crichton. In September 2012, the new £13.2 million on-campus Paisley student residence opened situated next to the library.[9]

Student Life

Student Unions

SAUWS Union bars are at the heart of the student community and are home to various events and activities including:

  • screenings of major sporting events
  • regular stand-up comedy gigs
  • quiz nights
  • poker competitions
  • karaoke and open mic sessions
  • pool tables and quiz machines

Recently the “Save our Union” student-led campaign against the considered closure of all commercial services including the student unions has received a lot of media attention during academic session 2014-15.[10][11][12]

UWS Radio

The student run radio station broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be listened to online.

Student Associations

The Students' Association, University of the West of Scotland, (informally SAUWS) is the recognised student organisation of the University of West the West of Scotland at Paisley, Ayr and Hamilton Campuses whilst The Crichton University Campus Students' Association (CUCSA)represents UWS students in Dumfries. Both organisations are members of the National Union of Students and run a variety student clubs.


The majority of the Student Clubs and Societies come are only available to SAUWS associated campuses and are run by students for students under the TeamUWS banner. These include the Christian Union, Islamic Society, gaming societies and course groups.[13] There are also STAR groups, Students Taking Action and Representing, which are a collection of liberation groups and peer support groups. STAR groups were set up to counter under-represented sections of the student body and reflect the diversity of our students being:[14]

  • Women’s group
  • Black students group
  • LGBTQ group
  • Disabled students group
  • Post-graduate students group
  • Mature students group
  • Part-time students group
  • International students group
  • Care Leavers students group

The current Student President is Jack Douglas. The current Depute President Education & Welfare is John Black.


For students at Dumfries CUCSA has a more limited range of sports and societies on offer and CUCSA is currently working with students to produce a new Netball club, both Boys and Girls Football clubs and an improved Riding Club. Currently those on offer according to the official CUCSA website[15][16] are:

  • Crichton LGBT+
  • The Dumfries Environmental Sustainability Society
  • Coders Guild
  • Crichton Anarchist Group
  • The Crichton International Society
  • Phenology Garden Club
  • The Crichton Ink Monsters (Writing Club)
  • Crichton University Campus Boat Club (Rowing club)
  • Crichton University Campus Sailing Club


Sporting affairs are regulated by TeamUWS,[17] the Sports and Societies branch of the main Students Association headed by the Sports President. There are a large number of varied clubs, including Aikido, Basketball, Curling and Snowsports who regularly compete in BUCS and Scottish Student Sport competitions. Students who join one of the sports clubs affiliated with the university must also join the Sports Union. However, there are also regular classes and drop-in sessions for various sports which are non-competitive and available to all university gym members. The University operates two sports centres across the west of Scotland, Robertson Trust Sports Centre at Thornly Park Campus in Paisley[18] and Hamilton Leisure Centre [19] on site on Hamilton Campus.

List of Sports

The full list of team and individual sports are:[20]

The university, as the University of Paisley, has also had a number of previous clubs including Ice Hockey, Shinty, Gaelic Football and Ice Sports. There have been attempts in recent years to resurrect these teams, most notably the Paisley IcePanthers, the university's former ice hockey team in 2008 by Finnish and German but due to lack of interest the club never happened. The most successful of all the resurrections was the American Football team. The Paisley College of Technology/University of Paisley Panthers American Football played between the 1989–90 British Collegiate American Football League and the 1996–97 British Collegiate American Football League seasons until the club rejoined as the University of Paisley Pyros at the start of the 2004–05 British Collegiate American Football League season.

TeamUWS competes in the East vs West varsity competition against Edinburgh Napier University in the sports of American Flag Football, Badminton, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Netball and Rugby. In the 2013/2014 competition the hockey games were cancelled due to location and weather difficulties.

According to the Scottish Daily Record, it is rumoured that South Ayrshire Council is considering giving the dated Dam Park Stadium, the venue for UWS-SRUC-Ayrshire College Varsity, to the University saving nearly £70,000. As part of the transfer, the facility will continue to be used by Ayr Seaforth AC and the local community.[21]

Partner Institutions

The University currently has over 100 institutional exchange and Erasmus programme partners across the world in the United States of America and Mainland Europe. Currently the university is building links with Chinese universities for future developments:[22]


Select European Universities

Notable People and Alumni


  1. ^ "Senior Officers". University of Paisley. Retrieved 1 August 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c "Table 0a - All students by institution, mode of study, level of study, gender and domicile 2005/06".  
  3. ^ "Merger forms regional university". BBC News. 1 August 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2007. 
  4. ^ "University league table 2009". Complete University Guide. Retrieved 31 May 2015 2007. 
  5. ^ "Sir Peter Coats and Thomas Coats". 
  6. ^ "200 years of the Paisley Philosophical Institution". 
  7. ^ "UWS - University of West Scotland - Schools". University of the West of Scotland. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Complete University Guide 2016 Education Table". Complete University Guide. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  9. ^ . University of the West of Scotland = UWS - Paisley - Accommodation = UWS - Paisley - Accommodation . Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  10. ^ . Scottish Daily Record = Daily Record - Blow to University of the West of Scotland Hamilton students as figures reveal that the union has been losing thousands of pounds = Daily Record - Blow to University of the West of Scotland Hamilton students as figures reveal that the union has been losing thousands of pounds . Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  11. ^ . Scottish Daily Record = Daily Record - Ayr students in fight to save their campus bar = Daily Record - Ayr students in fight to save their campus bar . Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  12. ^ . Scottish Daily Record = Daily Record - Hamilton UWS student union boss 'no confidence' bid fails = Daily Record - Hamilton UWS student union boss 'no confidence' bid fails . Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "SAUWS - Students' Association University of West Scotland - Societies". Student Association University of the West of Scotland. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  14. ^ "SAUWS - Students' Association University of West Scotland - STAR Groups". Student Association University of the West of Scotland. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "CUCSA - Crichton University Campus Student Association - Sports". Crichton University Campus Student Association. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  16. ^ "CUCSA - Crichton University Campus Student Association - Clubs and Societies". Crichton University Campus Student Association. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "SAUWS - Students' Association University of West Scotland - Sports and Societies". Student Association University of the West of Scotland. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "UWS - University of West Scotland - Paisley Campus Sports Centre". University of the West of Scotland. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  19. ^ "UWS - University of West Scotland - Hamilton Sports Centre". University of the West of Scotland. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  20. ^ "SAUWS - Students' Association University of West Scotland - Sports". Student Association University of the West of Scotland. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  21. ^ . Scottish Daily Record Daily Record - Who will bear the brunt of South Ayrshire Council's brutal cuts? Find out what services are set to be slashed Daily Record - Who will bear the brunt of South Ayrshire Council's brutal cuts? Find out what services are set to be slashed . Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  22. ^ "UWS - University of West Scotland - Study Abroad". University of the West of Scotland. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  23. ^ "UWS Student Wins Gold at World Junior Curling Championships". 
  24. ^ "2013 Inductee: Andrew Gavin Hastings". 

External links

  • University of the West of Scotland
  • The Students' Association of the University of the West of Scotland website
  • NHS Ayrshire and Arran
  • UWS Radio [2]
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