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Napier University is a modern university with some 15,000 students occupying four main and several smaller campuses, mostly in the south and west of Edinburgh. It has particular strengths in the area of vocationally focused courses. It also has strong international links, as a result of which has the fourth largest percentage of foreign students in the UK.
Napier University Business School is one of the largest business schools at any university in Scotland, and is rated as one of the best business schools in the UK. Meanwhile the School of Computing at Napier University is the largest computing department in Scotland. In 2005 it joined with the Edinburgh College of Art to launch the Screen Academy Scotland, a new centre of excellence offering practical, project-based, postgraduate courses in aspects of film making. Other particularly strong vocational areas lie in subjects as diverse as timber engineering, transport studies and journalism, as well as on accounting and law.
The University's main campuses are in Edinburgh at Merchiston, Craighouse, Craiglockhart and Sighthill. The Merchiston campus is built around the refurbished shell of Merchiston Castle and houses the sports, science, mathematics, engineering and computing courses. The Craighouse campus enjoys panoramic views over city and is home to the social science and communication arts courses as well as the Ian Tomlin School of Music. The Craiglockhart campus is the home of the law and business courses and is also marketed as a conference centre. It has recently benefited from a £24m investment in the Business School. The Sighthill campus is currently undergoing a £80 million redevelopment.
University accommodation is available to most first year students from outside the Edinburgh area. Napier University's students' union is called the Napier Students' Association (NSA). This is located on Merchiston Place near the Merchiston campus.
The origins of Napier University date back to the foundation in 1964 of the Napier Technical College. This occupied a campus at Merchiston built around Merchiston Castle, once the family seat of the Napier family, whose most prominent member was John Napier, the influential mathematician who invented logarithms. The college took his name. In 1966 it became Napier College of Science and Technology and since 1971 it has offered degree-level courses.
In 1974 Napier merged with the Sighthill-based Edinburgh College of Commerce to form Napier College of Commerce and Technology, in 1985 becoming a "Central Institution" with the right to validate and award its own degrees. Napier College became Napier Polytechnic in 1986 and in the same year acquired the former hydropathic hospital buildings at Craiglockhart. It became Napier University in June 1992. In 1994, the university acquired its Craighouse campus, based around the former Thomas Clouston Clinic, a private mental hospital.