Renowned Education

Scotland is famous for its first-class education system and highly qualified graduates and school leavers.

Across the Central Belt alone there are more than 270,000 students in higher education institutions and further education colleges, one of the UK's highest student concentrations. 

Edinburgh outperforms Scotland in terms of school leaver qualifications, with more than half going into higher education or employment. 

Approximately 55% of Edinburgh's working age population are educated to degree level or equivalent.

Edinburgh's Universities

Edinburgh's universities are among the top in Scotland and reputed internationally for their research excellence in disciplines such as life sciences, medicine and informatics.

There are four universities in Edinburgh, all of them offering an exceptionally high standard of education.

The city’s largest university, the University of Edinburgh, is regularly ranked one of the top higher education institutions in the world in prestigious indices such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Edinburgh’s universities attract high-calibre students from all over the world. There are close to 60,000 students enrolled in Edinburgh’s universities, which collectively produce over 15,000 graduates each year. 

Further and Higher Education Colleges

In addition to its universities, there are six further and higher education colleges across the Edinburgh city region. These include the newly formed Edinburgh College (Scotland's largest college, with four main campuses in Edinburgh and the Lothians), Fife College, Forth Valley College, Leith School of Art, Newbattle Abbey College and Scotland's Rural College.

Most colleges provide both levels of qualification. Further education colleges offer courses for people over the age of sixteen, involving school-level qualifications such as Higher Grade exams, as well as work-based learning. Higher education colleges offer degree-level courses, such as diplomas.

Discover more about Education in Edinburgh. View the Education section of Edinburgh's Investor Support Pack.

Independent and State Schools

Edinburgh has a rich variety of prestigious schools catering for a full range of educational needs, spanning the state and independent sectors offering co-educational, same sex, day and boarding options from impressive nursery school provision to the best in higher education

Nine of the top 50 state schools in Scotland are located in the Edinburgh city region, according to The Sunday Times. There is a huge choice of primary (ages 5-11) and secondary (ages 12-18) schools, coupled with high standards across the board.

Edinburgh also has a high proportion of prestigious independent schools, with 23% of Scotland’s privately run schools located within the city. The high standard of the city’s schools is reflected in recent figures showing that pupil numbers continue to rise – with some schools having their largest number of pupils to date – despite the overall number of pupils in independent schools having fallen for the past five years (Scottish Council of Independent Schools).

  • Further information on Council-run State Schools (primary and secondary) can be found here.
  • Further information and a list of Edinburgh's Independent Schools can be found here.

1 out of every 13 primary and secondary students go to an independent school in Edinburgh. Positive destinations for Edinburgh School Leavers increased from 88.3% in 2012 to 92.3% in 2015. (source: Edinburgh by Numbers)

Nursery schools.

The Scottish Family Information Service provides free, impartial information on childcare in Edinburgh for families such as;

  • Nurseries, childminders, playgroups and out of school care
  • Early learning and childcare places for three and four year olds 
  • How different types of childcare are organised and what to look for when choosing a service
  • Organisations offering support, information and guidance at local and national levels
  • Local activities, events and initiatives

The Care Inspectorate was created by Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010. It is the national body responsible for regulating care services throughout Scotland and provides nursery school inspection reports.


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Investor Support Team

City of Edinburgh Council


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