Cordelie Corbett

Cordelie Corbett

Modified & Updated: 30 Jan 2024


The University of Glasgow is a prestigious institution that has a rich history and a strong reputation for academic excellence. Established in 1451, it is one of the oldest universities in the English-speaking world. Situated in Glasgow, Scotland, the university is known for its stunning architecture and beautiful campus. But there is more to the University of Glasgow than meets the eye. In this article, we will uncover 11 surprising facts about this esteemed institution that may leave you astounded. From famous alumni and groundbreaking research to quirky traditions and historical anecdotes, these facts will give you a deeper insight into the University of Glasgow’s captivating story. So, prepare to be captivated by these fascinating revelations about one of Scotland’s most esteemed educational institutions.

Table of Contents

The University of Glasgow is over 560 years old.

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is one of the oldest universities in the English-speaking world. It has a long-standing reputation for academic excellence and has produced numerous notable alumni.

Albert Einstein received an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow.

In 1933, the university bestowed an honorary doctorate upon the legendary physicist Albert Einstein. This recognition highlights the university’s commitment to celebrating and honoring influential figures in various fields.

The University of Glasgow has its own student-run brewery.

The Brewing and Distilling Society, established by students, operates a microbrewery on campus. This unique endeavor allows students to gain hands-on experience in crafting their own brews.

The university’s main building is an architectural masterpiece.

The stunning Gilbert Scott Building, often referred to as the “Main Building,” is a prominent feature of the University of Glasgow. With its Gothic design and grandeur, it is a testament to the university’s commitment to creating a visually captivating environment for both students and visitors.

James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine, studied at the University of Glasgow.

James Watt, whose revolutionary invention powered the industrial revolution, began his journey to greatness at the University of Glasgow. His time as a student influenced his future work and inventions.

The University of Glasgow is home to the world’s oldest debating society.

The Glasgow University Union Debating Chamber, established in 1451, holds the distinction of being the oldest student debating society in the world. It has had a significant impact on shaping public discourse and promoting critical thinking.

The university has its own museum.

The Hunterian Museum, located on campus, is the oldest public museum in Scotland. It houses an extensive collection of art, artifacts, and scientific specimens, providing a valuable resource for both academic study and public engagement.

The University of Glasgow pioneered the field of social sciences.

With the establishment of the Glasgow Social and Philosophical Society in 1751, the university played a pivotal role in advancing social sciences. It was at the forefront of promoting interdisciplinary studies and societal understanding.

The university is known for its groundbreaking medical research.

The University of Glasgow’s School of Medicine has made significant contributions to the field of medical research and advancements. Its scientists and clinicians have played key roles in major discoveries and breakthroughs.

The university has produced several Nobel Laureates.

Throughout its illustrious history, the University of Glasgow has nurtured and supported exceptional minds. Several of its alumni and faculty members have been awarded Nobel Prizes in various disciplines, symbolizing the university’s commitment to academic excellence.

The University of Glasgow was the first university in the United Kingdom to appoint a female professor.

In 1894, the university made history by appointing Dame Katharine Jex-Blake as the first female professor in the United Kingdom. This progressive move demonstrated the university’s commitment to gender equality and inclusivity in academia.


University of Glasgow is a truly remarkable institution, with a rich history, distinguished alumni, and a commitment to academic excellence. Its stunning architecture, extensive library collections, and vibrant campus community make it a top choice for students from around the world. Whether you’re interested in the university’s notable achievements, its innovative research, or its contributions to society, there are many surprising facts to discover about the University of Glasgow.

From its founding in 1451 as the second oldest university in Scotland to its groundbreaking discoveries in medicine and science, the University of Glasgow has established itself as a leader in higher education. The university’s dedication to fostering intellectual curiosity, promoting inclusivity, and providing a supportive environment for learning sets it apart.

Whether you’re planning to study at the University of Glasgow or simply interested in learning more about its history and impact, exploring these surprising facts will give you a deeper appreciation for this esteemed institution.


1. What is the history of the University of Glasgow?

The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451, making it the second oldest university in Scotland.

2. Who are some notable alumni of the University of Glasgow?

Notable alumni include economist Adam Smith, physicist Lord Kelvin, and bacteriologist Sir Alexander Fleming.

3. What is the University of Glasgow known for?

The university is known for its excellence in research and teaching, particularly in the fields of medicine, science, and the humanities.

4. How many students attend the University of Glasgow?

The university has a student population of over 29,000, with students from over 140 countries.

5. What are some impressive achievements of the University of Glasgow?

The university has made significant contributions to various fields, including the development of the first ultrasound scanner and the discovery of the Higgs boson particle.