The University’s marine energy testing facility, FloWave, has been opened by Amber Rudd (MA History 1986), Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility, at the King’s Buildings campus, is a 25-metre circular pool that can recreate both waves and currents found at sea, enabling the testing of energy devices such as tidal generators and floating offshore wind platforms.

“It’s completely breathtaking,” said Ms Rudd at the opening ceremony. “It’s just remarkable to see what can be done here. It’s going to have a fantastic application for renewable companies wanting to test what can be done with tidal energy.”

The £10.5 million FloWave facility has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the University and Scottish Enterprise. It can simulate waves up to 28 metres high and currents of 12 knots in the two-metre deep tank, using 2.4 million litres of water.

Testing devices at scale in the unique facility can enable research milestones to be achieved in much shorter times than in open water, helping bring clean energy products to market more quickly and cheaply.

Ms Rudd added: “Renewable energy is such an important part of what this country does, and what we need to do. It’s a really exciting day – I think we’re seeing the start of something pretty extraordinary.”

Ms Rudd, MP for Hastings & Rye since 2010, reflected on her time at Edinburgh, saying: “It feels fantastic to be back here, a city that I’ve never stopped loving. Being back in this official capacity makes it very special indeed.”

She added: “I have lots of fond memories of Edinburgh. I was particularly interested in getting involved in acting, and one of the most extraordinary things I did with a friend was to put on a grown-up version of The Sound of Music. It was slightly hammed up, but extraordinarily good fun. Edinburgh was a wonderful place to try
things out.”

Ms Rudd joined an investment bank after graduating, before entering the venture capital industry, where she helped start-up firms find commercial opportunities.

She said that experience has helped her in her political career. “Understanding what businesses need to create employment has been absolutely critical to the work that I do now.”

Watch: FloWave in action.


The iconic “Golden Boy” statue that tops the dome of Old College has been regilded.

The dome was shrouded in scaffolding throughout the autumn, as the statue was prepared and gilded on site.

It is the first time in almost 30 years that the weather-beaten statue has been recoated. Stonework and leading close to the statue were restored at the same time.

The life-sized bronze figure created by John Hutchison has marked the city’s skyline since 1888. It is believed to be modelled on a well-known Edinburgh character, Anthony Hall, who was a boxer and athlete and later became a life model. The restoration took 2,500 small squares of 23.5-carat gold leaf to complete.

Watch: re-gilding the Golden Boy.


The University has strengthened its links with North America by opening a liaison office in New York City.

The new base will aid collaboration between the University and its partners in education, business and government across Canada and the USA. It will also help strengthen ties with Edinburgh alumni in North America and provide a point of contact for prospective students.

The office, at Rockefeller Plaza, is the University’s fourth overseas base, joining the India Office, China Office and the Office of The Americas, which works across Latin America.

Joanna Storrar, Executive Director of the North American Office, said: “Every day our deepening connections enable us to pursue opportunities – for applying our research, attracting financial support, recruiting new students, developing student internships – that we simply would not have from a distance. There is no substitute for being here.”

The University hosted a series of events to mark the opening of the office in New York City, and has launched two new scholarships to support outstanding students from North America.

The John Witherspoon Masters Scholarships – each worth up to $35,000 – will be open to postgraduate masters students in any field for 2015/16.

Video: The University's links with North America.


The University Library is publishing digitised editions of the Student newspaper from exactly 30 years ago, week by week.

The newspaper is being published on the library’s blog, in a one-year pilot that began with the 3 October 1984 edition.

“I can almost smell the glue that we used to put the paper together,” said Michael Devlin (MA Arts General 1985), who was editor of the Student in October 1984, in a comment posted to the Library’s blog.

The cover of the first digitised edition features Ian MacGregor (MA English Language & Literature 1985), now Editor of the Daily Telegraph, and Alastair Dalton (MA History 1987), now a journalist with the Scotsman. The Student was founded in 1887 by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Dr Sonia Wakelin and her children at Firbush.
Dr Sonia Wakelin and her children at Firbush.


Dr Sonia Wakelin (BSc 1995, MBChB 1997, PhD 2006), has made a very special trip to the University’s Firbush Point outdoor centre on the banks of Loch Tay – with her young family, 20 years after her first visit as an undergraduate.

Dr Wakelin stayed at Firbush in the 1990s, when her head of department, Professor Danny McQueen, arranged a reading party trip. Now a surgeon in Portsmouth, Dr Wakelin returns to Scotland regularly, and wanted her three children to enjoy the outdoor activities on offer.

“The experience is hard to beat, and the children loved it,” she says.

Firbush, which is run by the Centre for Sport and Exercise, offers preferential rates for alumni. An expansion is planned for its 50th anniversary in 2017.

University Challenge: alumni were narrowly defeated.
University Challenge: alumni were narrowly defeated.


Students, staff and alumni marked the 125th anniversary in November of the world’s oldest purpose-built Student Union building, Teviot Row House.

A weekend of events celebrated the history of Teviot, which was opened in 1889. There was a Prohibition-themed jazz night in the Library Bar, and a comedy and music extravaganza featuring Craig Hill, student comedians Joe McArdle and Becky Price, the Improverts and Hector’s Heroes Ceilidh Band.

The weekend concluded with a students v alumni University Challenge quiz, hosted by BBC Scotland’s Political Editor, Brian Taylor. The narrowly defeated alumni team were Ruth Davidson (MA General Arts 1999), Nicholas Grier (LLB Law 1982), Stephen Jardine (MA History 1985) and George McGavin (BSc Zoology 1975).

Discuss this article