Established in 1966, Heriot-Watt University now occupies a 154 ha (380 acre) campus at Riccarton, in SW Edinburgh. With 21,300 students (of which 14,100 are off-campus), 1570 staff and an income exceeding £134 million (2009), it is the city's second University.
Founded by Leonard Horner (1785 - 1864) as the School of Arts of Edinburgh in 1821, specifically for the education of the working classes, it was one of the first technical colleges. Funds were raised for new premises in memory of James Watt (1736 - 1819) and the Watt Institution came into being. As early as 1869, women were allowed to join classes. New premises were built in Chambers Street (Edinburgh) designed by David Rhind (1872), and following merger with George Heriot's Hospital (1885) it was this building which remained the headquarters of the Heriot-Watt College until 1992. The College became Heriot-Watt University on the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Higher Education chaired by Lord Robbins (1966).
The Riccarton Estate was formerly owned by the Gibson-Craig family who lived in Riccarton House, which was located close to where the University Library is today, but was demolished in 1956. The estate was purchased by Midlothian Council (1967) and gifted to the University in 1969. A phased move from the centre of the city to this new Campus proceeded from 1973.
Following a merger with the former Scottish College of Textiles (1998), there is a secondary campus at Galashiels. The textile college was established in 1909, to provide skills for the knitwear and textiles industries in the Scottish Borders. The university also maintains satellite campuses in Stromness (Orkney) and Dubai.
Until 2004, the Edinburgh College of Art (established in Lauriston Place in 1906) was closely linked with the University, constituting its Faculties of Environmental Studies and Art & Design.