The University of Stirling occupies a parkland campus on the outskirts of the small former spa town of Bridge of Allan, 2 miles (3 km) northeast of Stirling, close to the Wallace Monument. Occupying a spectacular setting at the base of the Ochil Hills, which rise sharply behind the campus, the University was sited in the former Airthrey Estate. It was developed from 1967 to designs by Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall and Partners, and today represents 134 ha (330 acres) of woodland and landscaped parkland, including a man-made loch noted for its wildfowl. Airthrey Castle, an 18th Century baronial edifice designed by Robert Adam (1728 - 92), forms the main administrative offices. The MacRobert Arts Centre houses a large theatre which acts as a noted venue for music, film and drama throughout the year.
Although King James VI (1566 - 1625) had promised in 1617 to found a 'free college' in Stirling, it took another 350 years before the University of Stirling came into being. Stirling has been at the forefront of educational innovation since then, being the first University in Britain to adopt a modular semester-based system of teaching, using this to promote inter-disciplinary degrees and has also been successful in adding new subjects to the academic diet.
Today, the University specialises in arts, human sciences, management and the natural sciences and has 8500 students, of which around 2300 are housed on-campus. The University also has two satellite campuses for the purposes of nursing and midwifery education, located in the grounds of Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and as part of the Lewis Hospital in Stornoway.