MSPs have congratulated the University of Stirling on its 50th anniversary during a special debate at the Scottish Parliament.
Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford led a 40-minute discussion on the University’s history and success at Holyrood on Wednesday afternoon. Members from across the political spectrum joined Mr Crawford in celebrating Stirling’s achievements as the University’s Principal, Professor Gerry McCormac watched on from the public gallery.
Mr Crawford told Parliament: “On 18 September 1967, the doors to the University of Stirling opened for the very first time, admitting 195 students, 164 graduates and 31 postgraduates. It was the first genuinely new university in Scotland for 400 years.
“The royal charter was signed in November 1967 and the great seal of Scotland was applied the following month.”
Reflecting on the last 50 years, the SNP politician continued: “Stirling’s university has grown to become a global player in educational excellence, and I am delighted to lead this debate to highlight the significant history and achievements of this wonderful institution.
“The debate also gives us the opportunity to consider the massive contribution that the university makes to education, culture and research.”
Mr Crawford praised the work of the University’s co-founder and first principal, Tom Cottrell, for building a “thriving institution that continues to inspire to this day”.
Politicians also paid tribute to the University’s “unrivalled” contribution to sport, its state-of-the-art library and its “remarkable track record” for welcoming international students during the debate, which was broadcast live on the Scottish Parliament website and covered by the BBC.
Alexander Stewart, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, praised the University’s “huge contribution” to the economy of Stirling, citing its 14,000 students and 1,500 staff.
He also spoke of Stirling’s achievements, mentioning the launch of its unique master’s degree in palliative nursing care in 1997. He said: “I congratulate all who have contributed to and supported the University, and I wish it well in its prospects for the future.”
Claire Baker, Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “I wish the University of Stirling, all its students – some of whom are starting out on their academic journey this week – and all the staff who work on the campus the very best on this special anniversary. It is a real landmark in the University’s life, and I wish everyone many successful years ahead.”
Green MSP Mark Ruskell, one of the University’s 82,000 alumni, spoke fondly of his time at Stirling and recalled a political “poster war” between him and another former student, the SNP’s Richard Lochhead.
Mr Ruskell added: “Indeed, he might not know that it was me who used to rip down his posters.”
Mr Lochhead and Conservative MSP Dean Lockhart also contributed to the debate before Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, brought proceedings to a close.
Ms Somerville, also a former Stirling student, added: “As someone who studied at the University of Stirling for two years as a postgraduate and had a very happy time there, I along with colleagues who studied or worked there, am confident that the institution will build on the history that we are celebrating today.
“I am sure that we will be back in the Chamber in years to come to celebrate its further success.”