Edinburgh is among other things, a university town, with three universities: the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, and Edinburgh Napier University.

Founded in 1582, Edinburgh University is the sixth oldest university in the UK. Its heritage is reflected in much of the architecture of its five Edinburgh campuses. 

Edinburgh receives approximately 60,000 applications every year, making it the second most popular university in the United Kingdom by volume of applications.

Heriot-Watt University was established in 1821 as the School of Arts of Edinburgh, the world's first mechanics' institute, and subsequently granted university status by royal charter in 1966.

It is the eighth oldest higher education institute in UK. The name Heriot-Watt was taken from Scottish inventor James Watt and Scottish philanthropist and goldsmith George Heriot.

Edinburgh Napier University is the newcomer of the three, originally founded in 1964 as Napier Technical College. It takes its name from 16th-century Scottish mathematician and philosopher John Napier. The technical college was inaugurated as a university in 1992.

It has three main Edinburgh campuses in Merchiston, Craiglockhart and Sighthill and around 19,500 students, including those on-campus in Scotland and others studying on transnational programmes abroad and online.