A Focus on Glasgow
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : Scott Younger Read : 1200 Date : Sunday, April 06, 2014 - 11:24:44


    On March 1, the British Council organized one of its twice annual Fairs in Indonesia featuring British universities and other insitutions of higher learning, with 46 coming to promote their opportunities to Indonesian students. It was gratifying to see the event attracting great interest; one of the best ways to cement international relations as well as providing young Indonesians with higher learning along with an useful overseas experience.

    In my role as Honorary Research Fellow of Glasgow University, attached to the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, I went along to see friends there and some Indonesian graduates of the university, and this prompted me to write a personal overview of my first alma mater, founded in 1451, with a number of distinguished names contributing to the university’s long history.

    Perhaps the most famous and regularly quoted figure from the late 18th century period of the Scottish Enlightenment was the university’s Adam Smith, whose “Wealth of Nations” is still regularly quoted by today’s economists. This was a period in Europe of huge cultural and political movements; music moving from church-related to secular with Mozart playing a leading role, the influential poetry of Robert Burns, a contemporary of Mozart and whose life and work is well documented at the university. There were also enormous political changes taking place in North America with the birth of the United States and the revolution in France. Europe was emerging quickly from the Middle Ages.

    It was also the time of important inventions, such as Glasgow’s James Watt steam engine, the development of which was fundamental to the industrial revolution that propelled Britain to the forefront in the 19th century. Victorian names of prominence at Glasgow University were renowned physicist Lord Kelvin, who played a significant part in the laying of the transatlantic cable to the U.S., and Lord Rankine, involved in a number of important engineering developments, and for whom my grandfather worked as an assistant. A 20th century man of distinction was John Logie Baird, the inventor of television.

    Ranked in the top 1% of world universities, Glasgow is a member of the prestigious Russell Group, an association of leading research intensive universities in the U.K. There are over 24,000 students attending a wide range of programmes, 900 undergraduate degree combinations and over 280 taught graduate degree courses.