Robert Gordon University

Robert Gordon University
Robert Gordon University
Motto Omni Nunc Arte Magistra
Motto in English "Now by all your mastered arts..."
Established 1992 (Origins 1720)
Type Public
Chancellor Sir Ian Wood
Principal Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski
Students 15,579[1]
Undergraduates 10,427[1]
Postgraduates 5,980[1]
Location Aberdeen, Scotland
Colours Royal Blue, Red and Gold

Robert Gordon University is located in Aberdeen, Scotland. Building on over 250 years involvement in education, it was granted university status in 1992. Robert Gordon University currently has approximately 16,407 students at its two campuses at Garthdee and the City Centre, studying on over 145 full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Much of the university campus dates from 17th and 18th centuries.

The Sunday Times named Robert Gordon University the Best Modern University in the UK for 2012, partly due to it having the best employment record of any UK university. It said: "With just 3.8% of graduates unemployed six months after leaving, a degree from Robert Gordon University (RGU) is as near to a guarantee of a job after graduation as you can get.....RGU's graduates don't just get jobs, they get good ones, with 84.9% securing jobs commensurate with their qualifications...with starting salaries at an impressive £20,897".[2]

The Robert Gordon University was also voted best modern university in the UK for overall satisfaction by its students in the National Student Survey 2011.



In 1720 Robert Gordon retired to Aberdeen, having amassed a considerable fortune in Poland. On his death 11 years later he willed his entire estate to build a residential school for educating young boys. In the summer of 1750 the Robert Gordon's Hospital was established to provide residential education for the sons and grandsons of Aberdeen's burgesses. In 1881 this was converted into a day school to be known as Robert Gordon's College. This school also began to hold day and evening classes for boys, girls, and adults in primary, secondary, mechanical and other subjects. Many of these classes were organised after consultation with the Aberdeen Mechanics' Institute, and included scientific, technical and commercial courses for clerks, apprentices and others. In 1884 the whole educational work of the Aberdeen Mechanics' Institute was transferred to the college.

About the same time, local businessman John Gray offered to provide a school of science and art upon condition that the Governors named it Gray's School of Science and Art. In 1903 the then Scotch Education Department designated the vocational courses work of the college as a Central Institution, at which point it became Robert Gordon's Technical College.

The name Robert Gordon's Institute of Technology, or RGIT as it was popularly known, was adopted in 1965.

In 1991 the name changed again, to The Robert Gordon Institute of Technology. By this point, it was one of the largest Central Institutions in Scotland. In 1992, the RGIT was awarded university status as The Robert Gordon University, and the first Chancellor, Sir Robert Reid, was installed.[3]

Robert Gordon's mercantile adventures founded a strong and remarkably modern belief that his investment in the education of his townsfolk would equip them with the skills and knowledge to strengthen their success in Europe and further afield.[citation needed]

The city of Aberdeen is also home to the University of Aberdeen. The two Universities based in Aberdeen discussed a merger in 2002 but they decided to maintain their independence.


Like most Scottish universities; RGU has its own tartan; it mirrors the university's colours of Royal Blue, Red and Gold. Some students on their graduation day choose to wear a tartan kilt.


Students and Courses

There are approximately 16,407 students studying over 145 full-time and part-time courses at undergraduate, post-experience and postgraduate levels. RGU is the top university in Scotland for graduate-level jobs, according to The Times Good University Guide 2012, The Guardian, and The Independent, and was named the Best Modern University in the UK by the The Guardian.[4][Third-party source needed] The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 named Robert Gordon University as having the lowest graduate unemployment rate in Scotland at 3.6% and The Independent said it is consistently one of the best UK Universities for graduate employment.

As well as full-time and part-time on campus study, the University provides a complete range of distance learning facilities over the Internet via its CampusMoodle, with over 8000 students from 113 countries studying online for a wide range of courses.

UK rankings
2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993
Times Good University Guide 52th 46th[5] 51st[6] 54th 55th 56th 58th= 58th 61st 59nd 61st 59th= 59th= 59th 58th 58th 62nd= 74th= 66th= 83rd=
Guardian University Guide 38th 27th 36th[7] 50th[7] 39th 58th 97th 70th 78th
Sunday Times University Guide 54th[8] 54th 62nd 65th[9] 68th 72nd 72nd 83rd= 101st 96th= 70th 64th 72nd
The Complete University Guide 51st 51st 47th[10] 61st[11] 55th[11]
The Daily Telegraph 55th[12][13] 89th=
FT 58th 57th 55th 55th


The Garthdee campus is situated on the south side of the city, on the banks of the River Dee. The campus has seen large investment in recent years, beginning with Aberdeen Business School which was designed by renowned architects Norman Foster and Partners and opened in 1998. The Faculty of Health and Social Care (home to the School of Nursing & Midwifery, the School of Applied Social Studies and the School of Health Sciences) was designed by Aberdeen architects Halliday Fraser Munro and opened in 2002. Robert Gordon University also opened a state-of-the-art Sports Centre, designed by Thomson Craig & Donald, in 2005 which provides facilities for social and leisure pursuits as well as important teaching and learning space. The Centre is used to support a range of health-related academic provision, particularly in physiotherapy. The three buildings are connected by a ‘University Street’, part of the original Norman Foster concept for the site.

The City Centre campus is housed in more traditional surroundings, within some of the city’s famous granite buildings. It is currently home to the School of Engineering, the School of Computing, the School of Pharmacy & Life Sciences, some administration departments (including the Principal’s Office) and the Student Union.

Over the next 10 years Robert Gordon University is planning to move all of its City Centre Campus out to Garthdee. The first phase will make space for the School of Engineering, School of Pharmacy & Life Sciences, School of Computing, increased library provision, student services and informal areas for students. The second phase will provide new space for the remaining schools, the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment and Gray’s School of Art.[14]

Research and Knowledge Transfer

The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) assesses the quality of research in UK universities, with the outcomes used to allocate research funding. In RAE 2008, over 70% of research at Robert Gordon University was classified as being of international quality.

The University has world class researchers in allied health professions, computer science, engineering, architecture, accounting and finance, business and management, library and information management, and art and design.

Robert Gordon University launched 3 Research Institutes in 2009 to provide the focus for delivery of research and knowledge transfer within the University: the Institute for Health & Welfare Research; the Institute for Innovation, Design & Sustainability Research; and the Institute for Management, Governance and Society Research.

Key research partnerships which Robert Gordon University belongs to include:

  • The Northern Research Partnership in engineering and related disciplines, along with the University of Aberdeen and the University of Dundee, with significant funding from the Scottish Funding Council. This forms part of the Scottish Research Partnership.
  • Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA), a collaboration of leading Scottish Universities which aims to develop Scotland’s position as an international research leader in informatics and computer science.
  • National Subsea Research Institute, a partnership between the UK subsea industry and university sector to develop a co-ordinated research strategy and programme.

Governance and Organisation

Robert Gordon University’s governing body is the Board of Governors, which comprises 23 governors appointed to exercise the functions of management and control though, at an operational level, most of these functions are delegated to the Principal and Vice Chancellor. The Board of Governors also delegates functions relating to the overall planning, co-ordination, development and supervision of the academic work of the University to the University’s Academic Council. Both the Board of Governors and the Academic Council are supported by a wide range of committees.


  • Sir Bob Reid (1992–2005)
  • Sir Ian Wood CBE (2004 – present)

The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the university is its general chief executive and is the administrative head of the institution, second in precedence only to the Chancellor.

Principal and Vice-Chancellors[15]

  • David A. Kennedy (1992–1997)
  • William Stevely CBE (1997–2005)
  • R. Michael Pittilo MBE (2005–2010)
  • John Harper (acting) (2010–2011)
  • Ferdinand von Prondzynski (2011–). Professor von Prondzynski took up his post on 21 March 2011.


The University has three faculties:

  • Aberdeen Business School
    • Accounting, Economics and Finance
    • Communication, Marketing and Media
    • Information Management
    • Law
    • Management
  • Faculty of Design and Technology
    • Gray's School of Art
    • Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment
    • School of Computing
    • School of Engineering
  • Faculty of Health and Social Care
    • School of Applied Social Studies
    • School of Health Sciences
    • School of Nursing and Midwifery
    • School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences


RGU contests the annual Aberdeen Universities Boat Race against The University of Aberdeen.

Robert Gordon University Boat Club

Partner Schools

Robert Gordon University has 2 Partner Schools in Switzerland

  • Business and Hotel Management School - Switzerland (BA Degree is a joint program between BHMS Switzerland and Robert Gordon University)
  • BVS Business School (Bachelor of Business Administration Degree is a joint program between BVS Switzerland and Robert Gordon University)


  • Duncan Fraser, Chief Executive, Aberdeen Football Club
  • Philippe Wehmeyer, Managing Director, GAME Group
  • Robert Cook, CEO, Malmaison
  • Hamish Dodds, President & CEO, Hard Rock Café
  • Sharon Morrison, Clinical Director, Birmingham Physiotherapy Centre (physiotherapist for Dancing on Ice and Strictly Come Dancing)
  • Jonathan Speirs, Co-founder, Speirs + Major
  • Ola Gorie, Jewellery Designer
  • Ena Baxter(of Baxter family), Artist
  • Alastair Maher, Scenic Artist
  • Maxwell Hutchinson, English Architect and Broadcaster
  • John Low, Chief Executive, Charities Aid Foundation[16]
  • Eilidh Middleton, Equestrian Competitor

Honorary Graduates

  • Sir Bill Gammell, Businessman (Doctor of Business Administration 2011)[17]
  • Michael Clark, Dancer (Doctor of Art 2011)[18]
  • Kevin Warwick, Scientist (Doctor of Technology 2011)[19]
  • Donald Trump, Businessman (Doctor of Business Administration 2010)
  • Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Adventurer (Doctor of Science 2010)
  • Barbara Dickson, Singer (Doctor of Music 2010)
  • Lord Alderdice, Politician (Doctor of Laws 2009)
  • Ben de Lisi, Fashion Designer (Doctor of Arts 2009)
  • Sir Andrew Motion, Poet (Doctor of Letters 2009)
  • Pamela Stephenson-Connolly, Clinical Psychologist (Doctor of Science 2009)
  • Nicky Campbell, Journalist and Broadcaster (Doctor of Letters 2008)
  • Lord Trimble, Politician (Doctor of Laws 2008)
  • Alan Johnston, Journalist (Doctor of Letters 2007)
  • Terry Waite, Humanitarian and Author (Doctor of Law 2007)
  • Gordon Brown, Politician (Doctor of Laws 2003)
  • Lord Norman Foster, Architect (Doctor of Design 2002)
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy, Barrister (Doctor of Laws 2002)
  • Baron Kinnock, Politician (Doctor of Laws 2002)
  • Stewart Milne, Businessman (Doctor of Business Administration 2000)
  • Paul Lawrie, Golfer (Doctor of Laws 1999)
  • Martin Bell, Journalist and Politician (Doctor of Letters 1998)
  • Sir Alex Ferguson, Football Manager (Doctor of Laws 1997)
  • Kate Adie, Journalist (Doctor of Letters 1996)


  1. ^ a b c Annual Review 2009–2010
  2. ^ The Sunday Times, 11 September 2011 (subscription only)
  3. ^ "RGU History". Robert Gordon University. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  4. ^ What the Papers Say 2010
  5. ^ League Tables
  6. ^ Times University Guide 2010
  7. ^ a b The Guardian University Guide 2009
  8. ^ Sunday Times University Guide 2010
  9. ^ "University ranking based on performance over 10 years" (PDF). The Times (London). 2007. Retrieved 28 April 2008. 
  10. ^ The Independent University League Table 2010
  11. ^ a b "The Independent University League Table". The Independent (London). 24 April 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  12. ^ "University league table". The Daily Telegraph (London). 30 July 2007.;jsessionid=HXFCSGXMNVABTQFIQMFCFGGAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2007/07/30/ncambs430.xml. Retrieved 29 October 2007. 
  13. ^ Daily Telegraph University League Table
  14. ^ RGU Masterplan 2009
  15. ^ a b Ellington, Henry (2002). The Robert Gordon University : a history. Aberdeen: Robert Gordon University. ISBN 190108572-4. 
  16. ^ All information supplied by Alumni Office, Robert Gordon University
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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