Our History


Our History

Robert Gordon University's role in the community can be traced back nearly three and a half centuries to the birth of Aberdeen merchant and benefactor Robert Gordon in 1668.

Robert Gordon's mercantile adventures founded a strong and remarkably modern belief that his investment in the education of his townsfolk would equip them with the skills and knowledge to strengthen their success in Europe and further afield.

Today, more than 260 years after his death, the University which bears his name remains true to his spirit and enterprise.

The birth of the University

The first 100 years and beyond

1668: The birth of Robert Gordon, future founder of Robert Gordon's Hospital.

1684: He is elected a Burgess of Guild, enabling him to trade as a merchant in the city.

1689: Robert Gordon graduates from Marischal College and establishes business as a merchant trader in Danzig in the Baltic.

1729: He founds Robert Gordon's Hospital, to educate the young sons and grandsons of Burgesses of the Guild who were too poor to maintain them at school.

1731: Robert Gordon dies.

1750: Robert Gordon's Hospital opens to provide residential education for the sons and grandsons of Burgesses of Guild or Trade Burgesses of Aberdeen.

The 1800s

The College matures and grows

1824: Aberdeen Mechanics' Institution opens - the beginnings of an adult education programme.

1881: Robert Gordon's Hospital is transformed into Robert Gordon's College with a secondary day school and separate adult education college.

1884: Educational work of the Aberdeen Mechanics' Institute is transferred to the College.

1885 : Gray's School of Science and Art opens on Schoolhill, funded by John Gray, head of the firm of William McKinnon, Engineers and Iron Founders.

1898: Aberdeen Pharmaceutical Society transfers training for apprentice apothecaries, chemists and druggists to the College.

The 20th Century

Higher levels of teaching and learning are reached

1903: Scottish Education Department designates the vocational courses work of the College as a ‘Central Institution for Specialised Instruction'.

1910: Robert Gordon's Technical College is formed.

1955: Local architect and businessman Tom Scott Sutherland gifts the Garthdee Estate.

1957: Scott Sutherland School of Architecture opens.

1965: College becomes known as Robert Gordon's Institute of Technology (RGIT) to reflect higher levels of teaching and its new role as a centre of excellence in the non-university higher education sector.

1967: Gray's School of Art moves to Garthdee campus.

1991: Name changes to The Robert Gordon Institute of Technology - one of the largest central institutions in Scotland.

1992: Awarded university status and first chancellor, Sir Bob Reid, is installed.

The growth continues

Garthdee campus grows and key facilities move to new surroundings

1998: At the end of the 20th Century the Aberdeen Business School moved to the Garthdee campus.

2002: The Faculty of Health & Social Care building was opened in the summer of 2002 and is home to Applied Social Studies, the School of Health Sciences and the School of Nursing & Midwifery.

Present day: Campus development continues in parallel with growth in RGU's reputation. All teaching is delivered at our Garthdee Campus in state-of-the-art facilities on the banks of the River Dee. Both phases of building development were completed by 2015, providing a fantastic learning environment for our students in a beautiful riverside setting.

Check out the campus fly through on YouTube.

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